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Unemployment: Kansans experience difficulties when applying for benefits

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – From constant busy signals to online issues, many Kansans say they are experiencing problems when trying to apply for unemployment benefits.

State officials with the Department of Labor said unemployment rates are at an all time high.

“The first count I have on my phone for the day is 55 times,” said Chris Harvey, former Spirit AeroSystems employee. “You get through to an automated system and then we had to wait another two and a half hours to talk to a representative.”

Frustration is just one way to describe some people’s experience. Kansans said they are facing log in issues, trouble navigating the website, unclear alerts when filling out the application or they just can’t get through the phone lines at all without a busy signal.

“It’s pretty scary not knowing if you’re gonna get through,” said Marcia Spielman, unemployed worker. “Not knowing if there’s going to be any kind of income coming from not working right now.”

Spielman’s business is considered non-essential, so she was forced to close. She is filing for benefits for the first time. She said her sister is experiencing the same issues.

“Am I even going to be able to file ever?” said Spielman.

State officials said they have doubled staff and are working tirelessly to address the problems online and on the phone lines. They said there is simply so much traffic coming into the website and call lines, that employees are trying their best to keep up.

Delia Garcia, Secretary of the Department of Labor, said one of the main problems for applicants deals with the login username and password. She said those issues have now been fixed and should help decrease the number of calls coming in.

“We are trying to move every moment, every hour of every day to get improvements,” said Garcia. “We are working very hard.”

Some state employees are working remote and the state has put more laptops in service to better serve those applying for benefits. Garcia said with 200 phone lines and the number of calls coming in, the lines can quickly back up.

“There are some emotional moments over here with our staffing because we are trying to do our very best,” said Garcia.

Officials said if you are still experiencing problems with your username or password, fill out the email form online.

Garcia said the phone lines should only be reserved for those without internet, people who cannot speak English, and military members who recently moved to Kansas.

She said she is grateful for the patience of callers and said officials are doing everything they can to help make the process easier.

For more information about unemployment benefits in Kansas or to apply online, click here.

The Department of Commerce has created a COVID jobs website for those ready to work. Click here to see the job listings.

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