Updated: March 20, 2020 07:23 PM
Created: March 20, 2020 04:32 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — With so many businesses closed, there is a surge of New Yorkers looking to file for unemployment benefits, but the state is having major problems keeping up with the demand.
If you log on to the New York State Labor Department’s website, you’ll see alerts all over the front page saying the department is dealing with an enormous volume of claims right now and claimants need to be patient. But that’s putting it mildly.
James Samuels lives in Chili and is retired so Thursday, he helped his daughter file for unemployment benefits.
She’s a hairdresser and her salon is currently closed under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order.
“The system at the state level was so overloaded that we were not able to get through and kept getting booted out and had to start the process over and over again,” Samuels said.
Samuels says they spent six and a half hours on the computer Thursday trying to file the claim.
Then, his daughter was required to call Friday morning to confirm the benefits as a first-time enrollee which took another two and a half hours.
“This was a no-brainer expectation that unemployment was going to spike and they needed to have some additional resources to handle the surge of claims,” Samuels said.
Surge is an understatement.
A spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Labor told News10NBC its website is averaging 250,000 log-ins per day which is a 400% increase over the average.
The call centers are also getting more than 75,000 calls from people looking for help each day.
“To address this unprecedented increase, we have added server capacity, bandwidth, and dedicated more than 700 staff members to address the influx. We are also hiring an additional 65+ individuals for our call centers and we will add more as we are able,” Deanna Cohen, the Deputy Director of Communications, said.
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.
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