HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The COVID pandemic has forced thousands of Virginians to file for unemployment, but many are having problems with getting those benefits.
“I’m almost to the point of giving up,” said Frank.
Frank, who did not want his last name published, filed his unemployment claim seven weeks ago. He said he was approved in April but has yet to receive one payment. He’s desperate for answers.
“This is really getting to me now,” Frank said. “Waiting for this money, the uncertainty. I’m losing sleep over this now.”
Frank, an independent contractor said he files his claim every week. He said every single day he tries to contact representatives at the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), but can’t get through to anyone.
“I just wish I could talk to somebody, anybody to help me with this situation,” said Frank. “If I’ve filled something out wrong, just help me. Get it fixed.”
A medical assistant, who did not want to be identified, said she’s going through the same problem.
“Even if you try to get help through chatting online it just kicks you out,” she said. “One time I was in there, I was 537th in place, and all of a sudden there were no people available to help. So, I just got kicked out no warning, no nothing.”
The medical assistant works in a doctor’s office and said her hours were cut, an impact of COVID crisis. She told News 3 she was approved for partial unemployment benefits but has only received one check.
The healthcare worker said it’s been tough to pay the bills and had to turn to family for help.
“I've had to split payments,” she said. “As soon as I get my check it’s already claimed for bills.”
With more than 50,000 Virginians filing for unemployment in a single week last week, Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) said the system is overwhelmed despite hiring outside help.
Sen. DeSteph is now working with the VEC to make sure people, not only in his district but across the Commonwealth, get answers.
“People are in desperate times and we’re just trying to help anybody any way we can,” DeSteph said. “These people, they need money for their rent; they need money for their food. They need money just to pay for things to get by.”
As for Frank, he said his next call will be to the senator because his savings he said he’s had to dip into will soon run out.
“If I just know that someone is just looking into it that’s all I’m asking, just for some help from a person,” he said.
Sen. DeSteph said he’s helped more than 500 people who were waiting on unemployment benefits get their checks. If you’re still having issues you can try calling or emailing your state senator and delegate.
Calls and emails to the VEC went unanswered.