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KDOL promises to clear unemployment backlog within 90 days

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 6:15 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With a backlog of 25,000 Kansans waiting for unemployment benefits, the Kansas Department of Labor promises to take action, clearing that up within 90 days. At this point, some Kansans still waiting for their first check months into the COVID-19 pandemic, expect more than $15,000 in unemployment benefits.

“I’ve been waiting for Kansas unemployment for over four and a half months now,” unemployed Kansan Michael King said. “They have not sent me any money since the pandemic started. At my estimation, they owe me in the neighborhood of $20,000 by now.

As about 25,000 Kansans wait, the state, for the first time, releases a timeline for when they should finally receive a check.

“From what I can see, the department (of labor) is heading in the right direction. They have brought in some outside help, they brought in new leadership,” said Kansas Rep. Kyle Hoffman who serves as the vice-chair on the state’s Joint Committee on Information Technology.

A majority of the unemployment backlog is made up of Kansans in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program. Kansas lawmakers who were part of the KDOL’s briefing on the timeline for getting unemployed Kansans the money they’re qualified to receive said at least half of the backlog is an easy fix. They said there was a widespread misunderstanding with the application process as nearly 12,000 claimants answered unemployment-related questions wrong. This made them ineligible for the benefits, at least temporarily.

The KDOL is working to change the unemployment application process to clear up any confusion and to contact people on the backlog to clarify some questions on the applications.

“So they need to go back and verify those questions, maybe clarify the questions a little more,” Hoffman said. ‘And they are hoping that will take care of the 25,000 fairly quickly.”

While some going through the unemployment process say it’s a relief to finally see a timeline, they feel that three more months is too long to wait.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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