NYS DOL still reporting slow service due to surge in unemployment claims

Andrew Hyman
Created: March 25, 2020 11:45 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Despite making changes to its unemployment filing system, the New York State Department of Labor is still reporting slowed service, amid a high number of calls and website traffic.

The website currently has an alert which indicates the issue, and is still asking New Yorkers to ‘be patient’, though, many of you reached out to News10NBC to share your frustration.


It’s what brought us to Ellen Teneyck, who lives in Naples with her partner. 

Both were self-employed, and are now unemployed. 

Ellen worked full-time as a personal care assistant to her friend, who lives in a nursing home in Penn Yan. 

This was the case, until, on the suggestion of New York State, and the Centers for Disease Control, nursing homes became more restrictive of who can come in. 

Ellen says her friend is receiving full care at the nursing home, but because she is restricted from entering, her job is done for the time being.

"I don’t know what to do,” Teneyck said.

She says not seeing her friend is a difficult pill to swallow, but right now her toughest task is trying to access the state’s unemployment website to see if she would even qualify for benefits. 

The state does offer a Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP), but Teneyck is still trying to get in contact with someone.

”I get booted off the site, it won’t load onto chrome, you make a phone call, you get disconnected.” she said “We’ve tried repeatedly throughout the day today, with no success.”

We reached out to the department, and Deputy Director of Communications Deanna Cohen said.

“Our team is literally working around the clock to make sure that all New Yorkers get their benefits,” Cohen said. “Our dedicated representatives are doing the best they can to make sure everyone is served, as quickly as possible, even if it takes longer than usual.”

As previously reported by News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke, the website was averaging 250,000 logins per day, and more than 75,000 calls each day. 

Here are the latest numbers from Monday, March 16 to Saturday, March 21, 2020:

Over 1,734,100 total calls

Over 2,270,300 web hits

For fellow former workers Greece native Sarah Neidrich, the longer the wait, the more the uncertainty over the future grows. 

She says she just lost her new job, and already had a prior unemployment claim with about eight weeks left on it, so, she wants to know what her options are.

“To know that I can count on that being there to help me pay bills, but, if I don’t get that answer, I’m going to have to try to figure out how I’m going to get those taken care of,” she said.

We again reached out to the state, and Cohen said.

“I will need to get clarification from our [Unemployment Insurance] team on this. We are in the process of working on some frequently asked questions that will be posted to our website to help.”

In the meantime, both Neidrich and Teneyck say they’ll keep trying.

“I need work, or unemployment,” Teneyck.

The Department of Labor is also asking claimants to file on specific days based on your last name.

If your last name starts with A - F, file your claim on Monday. For last names starting with G - N, file your claim on Tuesday. For last names starting with O - Z, file your claim on Wednesday. 

If you missed your filing day, file your claim on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Cohen says the day you file will not delay your payment. For more information, click here.

If your company hasn’t shut down but you’re out of work because you’re quarantined or isolated, a new bill the New York State legislature passed earlier this week requires medium and large companies to offer paid sick time.

If you’re out longer than that, you might qualify for Paid Family Leave or Short Term Disability. For more information, click here.

At the time of this article’s posting, the department had not clarified the question, we will keep you posted.

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