Will unemployed Kansans lose $600 of weekly federal benefits?

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Two weeks ago, Governor Laura Kelly announced the department would be working with specialists to fix issues in the system, but has it improved?

KSN reached out to the governor’s office.

A spokesperson for the Governor stated: “Governor Kelly recognizes the need to get payments made and the Department of Labor is working to quickly disperse unemployment benefits to the many Kansans currently unemployed due to COVID-19. That’s why since her announcement of changes within the Department of Labor, the Governor led the effort to partner with Accenture to identify improvements that can be made to get Kansans paid as quickly as possible. We know this has been an incredibly frustrating experience. The department is working diligently to improve customer service experiences and fulfill claims. To date, KDOL has delivered more than $1 billion in unemployment claims to nearly 200,000 Kansans. Accenture’s assessment to identify those improvements is still underway, but we will have more information soon about the progress being made to get Kansans the support they need.”

The state may be opening back up but the unemployment numbers haven’t slowed down. The initial claims have increased this week by about 2,000 claims.

Some Kansans said it’s been difficult as they’ve tried to apply for jobs, but the pandemic is making it difficult.

They also said the inconsistency in payments is making it difficult to manage the bills.

“Are we going to get it or are we not going to get it this week and we obviously, we don’t get it,” said Ashlen Peyton-Terriquez.

With an old unemployment system and Kansans having said there is inconsistent pay, many said they’re exhausted. 

“Something’s wrong with this or something’s wrong with that, it’s getting unbelievable,” said Peyton-Terriquez.

“Everybody’s in the same boat and it’s sinking quickly,” said mother Lisa Rhodes. “I feel like people are just tired of fighting a losing battle.”

While the claimants await the Kansas Department of Labor to fill out the claims, the $600 weekly added benefit from the CARES funding is set to expire July 31.

Kansas leaders said the outlook for that pay to be extended is up for debate.

Senator Jerry Moran stated: “I voted for the first three federal relief packages that included many provisions I would not support in ordinary circumstances, but hospitals needed supplies, small businesses needed loans, and folks who were out of work, through no fault of their own, needed relief. I am continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of those first three packages and working to determine which issues still need to be addressed or further addressed, but the country can’t afford an economy that’s not working. Americans want to get back to work in a safe manner, and the June unemployment report indicates that we are headed in the right direction.”

Congressman Roger Marshall said he doesn’t expect to extend the $600 benefits. He said it’s up to the state to hand out what’s been given.

“We can give them money, but if they don’t do the right things with it, it just sits there so they need to disperse the money that they’ve already been given,” said Marshall.

While many unemployed Kansans are still waiting to see payments, they hope they can see consistency.

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