'A few hundred of the most difficult' unemployment claims from March remain unprocessed, unpaid

Posted at 9:21 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 10:02:02-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee state officials say 98 percent of the many COVID-19 unemployment claims have been processed, but the remaining claims “are some of the most difficult.”

Arthur Dyer’s claim has been on the shelf since he applied at the end of March. Although his claim was approved shortly after, he’s waited this long to get his first payment.

The only issue Dyer could think of standing in his way is the fact that his last job lasted just three days. Dyer accepted the job in Nashville which came with more money, but after being furloughed he soon lost his home.

Thursday was move-in day for Dyer having found a new place an hour away in Baxter. There wasn’t nearly as much celebrating as you would think from a man who spent at least one week living out of a tent in a nearby park.

Thing is Dyer has no idea how he’ll manage to pay for July rent if he doesn’t have unemployment money to make up the difference.

“If I don’t have some type of income coming in, we will probably have to move out,” said Dyer.

We talked with Chris Cannon from Tennessee Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development on the status of backlogs in the state and why some claims are taking longer than others to pay out.

Cannon says when a claim draws a red flag for their servers, it needs to be investigated manually before a decision on eligibility is made.

“It takes a human being to do that and unfortunately we’ve been so overwhelmed the last three months,” said Dyer.

You may notice on your claim dashboard the words “active issues.” Cannon says “that doesn’t mean there’s an actual problem with your claim. That just means your claim is under review.”

Just under 27,000 claims are still waiting to be processed, which Cannon says is a fraction of what it was in weeks prior. On the latest data from the week ending June 6th, once again it appears fewer people are continuing their claims from one week to the next.

Suggesting good signs ahead, as fewer people are having to rely on the help. At the peak, there were more than 116,000 new claims the week of April 4th and we’re down now to 21,000.

“Sure that number has dropped, but it’s still an unprecedented number. You have to think, that’s typically what the state would receive in a three month time period,” said Cannon.

Cannon says they also promoted several call agents to the role of adjudicators, giving them the authority to approve and process claims on the spot once they gather all information.

Ask that to the 40 employees now assigned to just answer voicemails and Cannon says he expects to have more claims resolved. Starting with the oldest claims first.