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Unemployed Kentuckians frustrated with phone appointment system

(AP)
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 2:02 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Lawrence Donini was lucky enough to find an available phone appointment with the unemployment office for late January. Then his scheduled appointment date came and went, and he never received a call.

“I waited all day long,” Donini said.

Donini was laid off from his service industry job in March due to COVID-19. When he refiled his unemployment claim in December under the new federal verification system, he told our sister station WAVE 3 News his account was thrown into an endless cycle of refiling requests; he has not seen a dime since.

“I have two little girls,” Donini said. “One will turn five on Feb. 22, and I have no money to buy her presents or anything like that. It’s hard.”

Donini is behind on rent, has over-drafted his bank account, and has to rely on food pantries to keep his daughters fed.

“I’ve worked in the service industry for 23 years, and I have never experienced being broke like this,” he said. “I mean literally, I have nothing.”

Donini is one of dozens who said their phone appointment did not go as planned.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky’s Office of Unemployment Insurance would launch virtual appointments in mid-January. With only 16 staffers taking calls, slots booked up quickly.

According to Amy Cubbage, the governor’s General Counsel, the unemployment office has experienced problems with people not answering their phones during their scheduled appointment times.

“Please answer your phone when we call,” Cubbage said. “We try three separate times, but then the employee has to move on to the next appointment.”

However, Donini said, “That might be true for some, but it’s not true in my case. I’m here, I’m still waiting. I’ll be waiting by my phone. Hopefully somebody will call.”

There were no available phone appointments at the time this article was published. Those searching for an open slot are advised to look on this website at midnight EST when appointments are posted.

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