Frustrations with NYS unemployment system continue

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: June 29, 2020 05:14 PM
Created: June 29, 2020 04:50 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) — The state’s unemployment system is finally starting to catch-up with the massive demand on it, but not everyone has been made whole.

Liz Coffey was working at a local call center when the pandemic hit. She was laid-off because social distancing wasn’t really possible.


She filed for unemployment online at the end of March,

“I figured it would take longer with the pandemic and everything I was figuring about a month and now here we are, three months later and still nothing,” Coffey told News10NBC.  

Back in May, she says, she got a letter in the mail letting her know what her benefit amount will be but she has yet to get any actual benefits.

“No calls, no anything and it's been impossible to get through it just hangs up on you and says there are too many calls. I even tried emailing through their messaging system and I just got kind of a canned answer that they're sending to everybody, saying because of the pandemic it's taking longer, so at this point, I feel like there must be something wrong with my claim but I don't know what it is you know,” Coffey said.

Ken Ferguson is in a similar situation, he applied for benefits in late April.

“She said that you've done everything you've got to do… I was following the rules, I was being more than patient I thought but when eight weeks went by and nothing is happening, nothing is changing, I wonder whether I’ve fallen through the cracks,” Ferguson told News10NBC.  

A spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Labor tells News10NBC she’ll have someone look into Coffey and Ferguson’s claims specifically but generally, the department has been working hard to clear the massive backlog of people who’ve been waiting. 

The state claims since the pandemic hit, it has processed 2.8 million claims, paying out $25 billion in benefits.

The department also says its new phone system now allows it to go from 8,500 calls per day to 30,000 and the average wait time is down to 10 minutes.  

“Every state has experienced an unprecedented surge in unemployment claims and New York is no different, but we have moved faster and more aggressively than any other state to get people their money -- including building a new unemployment application with Google, upgrading our phone system, and improving how we proactively communicate with New Yorkers -- and thanks to this work, we have now paid over $25 billion in unemployment benefits to 2.9 million New Yorkers. In the rare case that someone has not received benefits, it is likely they have a complex claim that requires adjudication or must submit additional information for their application to be processed,” DOL spokeswoman Deanna Cohen said.  

Coffey and Ferguson say if additional information is needed to finalize their claims, they haven’t been told so and still can’t get through on the phone lines to ask.   

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