‘Old, antiquated, and needs to be updated’: In-person appointments begin for unemployment guidance

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 7:21 PM EDT
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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Across the commonwealth, 13 sites are now open to help Kentuckians address concerns about their unemployment insurance claims as thousands pour out in search of guidance.

“When you combine years of painful staffing cuts, an out-of-date system designed to tell people ‘no,’ and the effects of a once-in-100-years pandemic – many Kentuckians have been unable to obtain benefits,” Gov. Beshear said in a news release. “In addition to taking many new actions to help Kentuckians in need, we are now making good on our promise to begin putting unemployment specialists back into the local career centers.”

Kentucky Career Centers across the state are now booked with 9,500 appointments spanning the next couple of weeks, offering in-person assistance to answer questions and decide which claims are legitimate after a four-day shutdown of the system.

“From everything that we’ve heard - and we’ve called and checked in on these, we had legislators stop by too - things are going smoothly,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during a news conference Thursday. “People are really happy to see somebody.”

One of the regional centers, located in Prestonsburg, has Floyd County Judge-Executive Robbie Williams hopeful for the days to come.

“Hopefully, they can get these unemployment benefits sorted out, corrected, and they can get people their unemployment benefits and they can get back on their feet,” he said.”

However, he worries that people may be in too deep as the weight of the pandemic adds to the stress of their already declining situations.

“You know, I’m seeing things with people and I see it in their eyes I’ve never seen before. They’re at the end of the rope,” Williams said. “Most of your managers and business owners and stuff are still doing well. It’s those hourly workers that live paycheck to paycheck that’s been affected, and then they can’t get their unemployment benefits on top of that.”

He hopes to see progress in the days to come, saying the pandemic has shown the holes in the system and he believes they can now be addressed and filled to best serve the people of Kentucky.

“The system we know, it’s old, antiquated, and needs to be updated,” said Williams. “I think the governor’s doing the right thing with shutting it down last week to get those checks and balances in place.”

Gov. Beshear said Thursday he believes the in-person claim checks will be beneficial in cutting the illegitimate claims out and making sure those who need benefits can receive them.

Visits are by appointment only through online registration. The next round of scheduling will be available Monday, with daily availabilities expected to open each day after.

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