Richmond woman still dealing with same issues after VEC system update

Richmond woman still dealing with same issues after VEC system update
Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 17:17:29-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Nearly two years into the pandemic, Virginians are still trying to get through to the Virginia Employment Commission about their claims.

After a class-action lawsuit, a federal judge put the VEC under strict reporting requirements about how many claims, appeals and fraud cases the agency is facing and has resolved.

While progress has been made, an unemployed insurance worker from Richmond said four months after someone started stealing her unemployment benefits, the VEC still can't tell her how they plan to correct the situation.

CBS6 first introduced viewers to Tawanda Ross in mid-October after she spent months struggling to find someone at the VEC who could actually stop the fraudulent claims on her account and get her the months of benefits she is owed.

Someone at the VEC did contact the laid-off insurance worker after her story aired. However, since then nothing has happened. A fruitless call this week has only added to Ross' frustration.

"And then when I asked a question she was like, 'I'm limited to what I can tell you, you have to call the call center.' However, the call center is so backed up, when you call it hands up on you. It'll say they have too many calls in queue and hang up. So it's still the same thing that I was going through in August. I'm going through again, well, in November," Ross said.

Ross said with the holidays approaching and a new job that doesn't allow her to make ends meet, the VEC's inaction continues to cost her dearly. On Wednesday, her power was shut off momentarily and only came back on because of a medical waiver.

"I haven't been able to pay like the basic things. I've had to move some things around and luckily, I had saved a lot of the weeks that they gave me but I still haven't received a payment since August. I had to take a job in a nursing home where I'm overqualified and underpaid for and it's still not making a dent in any of my bills," Ross said.

VEC Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess told a federal judge this week that the VEC had failed to meet its court-ordered requirement to resolve unpaid claims by a mid-November deadline.

She blamed the long-delayed computer upgrade that took the VEC offline for several weeks.

However, Ross said she'd like to let the court know how Hess' explanation won't help her get what she's owed.

"Tell the judge that there hasn't been progress. There was some progress when you initially did the first interview with me. They called immediately during the broadcast to say that they were working on it and I would have a resolution within two or three days but that was not the case," Ross said. "It's those two or three days that have been a couple of months now. We're going into December and it's still the same thing."

CBS6 reached out to VEC spokeswoman Joyce Fogg to ask about the months-long delays in resolving Ross' claim. We have also relayed Ross' concern that with a new administration taking office in January, she is concerned about job changes at the VEC that may force her to restart the whole process.

As of Friday evening, CBS6 has not heard back from the VEC.

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