BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Department of Labor has made some improvements to help speed up unemployment claims.
Just last Friday, we spoke with a woman who had exhausted her COVID-19 unemployment benefits and was having trouble applying for an extension.
But since our story aired, she’s finally been able to speak with someone at the Alabama Department of Labor and has received her money.
“I was having difficulty contacting the Alabama Department of Labor in order to establish my extended COVID-19 benefits,” said LaTanya McCaslin.
McCaslin recounts the process of applying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, OR PEUC.
It’s an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits provided by the federal government under the CARES Act.
“I was really stressed out and it was a very difficult situation, and this week I was able to contact the Department of Labor, and I got through with the automated system, and I established my COVID-19 extended benefits and I’ve received my claim already,” McCaslin said.
McCaslin is among the nearly 300,000 claimants who have been paid $1.5 billion in COVID-19-related unemployment benefits. That’s 92% of claims.
According to the Alabama Department of Labor, that number represents more benefits paid in three months, than in the last seven years combined.
That number continues to go down as more people head back to work, but what about the last 8% of claimants?
“We encourage people to go online at labor.alabama.gov to file their claims and to use our new claims tracker app. That will give them the fastest response time,” said Public Information Officer for the Alabama Department of Labor, Kelly Betts.
“That’s going to give you any error messages, anything that you’ve put in incorrectly, and sometimes the issues are as small as a misspelled name,” Betts explained.
The department said under normal circumstances, it can take up to 21 days to file an unemployment claim, but that time frame has increased with the pandemic.
For those folks who don’t have access to the internet or smart devices, you’re encouraged to keep using the phone lines to get through.