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NYS: 'We read KeyBank the riot act' following late LWA payments

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: September 21, 2020 05:15 PM
Created: September 21, 2020 04:42 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) — New York State is pointing the finger directly at KeyBank for a delay in payments to the unemployed. Millions of New Yorkers who were expecting $900 in payments on Friday, woke up to nothing in their accounts.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke was first to report on the issue, which was eventually resolved, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office says it’s not happy about how long it took.

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The enhanced benefits were funded by the federal government through the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program but funneled to New Yorkers through the NYS Department of Labor.

Those who were out of work because of the pandemic during the first three weeks of August were eligible for the payments and promised the money would be in their accounts by Friday. But business hours came and went and the money wasn’t there.    

NYSDOL basically handed its bank, KeyBank nearly $2 billion to fund these payments last week for nearly 2 million New Yorkers.

KeyBank admitted early Friday that it had trouble with the sheer volume of processing. By mid-day, KeyBank had gotten much of the money out to those who get benefits through direct deposit but by midnight, those who get benefits on pre-paid Key2Benefits cards still did not have the payments and were getting desperate.

“It’s very unprofessional ya know what I'm saying? Yes, they’re helping us by giving us the money but people are planning, they have to pay bills, people have to eat, they're planning... ya know to do things with the money. If it's supposed to be there it should be there,” said Tom Allen, who is unemployed and waited until Saturday for his money.

Eventually, over the weekend KeyBank caught up but there’s one more round of payments going out this Friday and of course, the unemployed are concerned.  

Monday, Gov. Cuomo was asked directly about this situation during a conference call with reporters, he deferred to his top aide Melissa DeRosa who said, “we have had conversations with KeyBank, I think that saying we've had conversations is downplaying it, they have been read the riot act. We have been assured that this is not going to happen again… Should this happen again we may consider no longer working with KeyBank.”

In a statement to News10NBC on Monday, a spokesman for KeyBank said, “a processing issue that caused a delay in Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) payments specifically to Key2Benefits cardholders was resolved and all claimants received their funds by 3:30 a.m., Saturday morning. Claimants who are indicating problems with their expected payment are experiencing a separate issue, for which they should contact the New York Department of Labor. We are reviewing our processes and procedures to make sure there are no issues for future LWA payments.”

Individuals will only receive LWA payments for the weeks they were eligible and collecting traditional Unemployment Insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. If you think you are eligible for additional weeks that you did not receive you should call
888-209-8124.


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