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After 8 weeks, small mistakes make for major delays in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments

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Posted at 8:21 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 21:21:38-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For some, Monday marked eight weeks without any unemployment assistance dating back to just after the March 3 tornado.

Chris Weaver is a self-employed photographer who says it was shortly after the tornado when he applied for unemployment benefits. This was before COVID-19 gripped the state and the country, so there was no mention of it on the Jobs4TN application.

While applying, Weaver says he was asked if he had been impacted by tornado damage and he replied yes. At the time, Weaver felt it was the only way to get any traction on the claim, having had all his clients cancel on their contracts.

Chris Weaver is a self-employed photographer who says it was shortly after the tornado when he applied for unemployment benefits. This was before COVID-19 gripped the state and the country, so there was no mention of it on the Jobs4TN application.

As many as six weeks go by and still no payments. By then, Weaver became a regular on the Facebook group, Tennessee Unemployment Nightmares. A group he fondly refers to as “the orphans.”

“There’s 1,800 people on there now. Last week it was 893. We need to have some one directly assist all those people that are in severe pain. I guarantee you there are a lot more people in worse shape than I am,” said Weaver.

On the page, people share their stories and updates on navigating the unemployment process in hopes that someone else could benefit from their experience.

Up until this afternoon, Weaver was like many others who only had a transcript of their certification records to show for all the hours of calls and emails. Shortly after speaking with NewsChannel 5, Weaver checked the status of his claim again, to find the records of his certification had been wiped.

The panic was followed shortly by relief, as only 15 minutes later Weaver would hear from the Chris Cannon and the Tennessee Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development.

We contacted Cannon earlier in the day for some clarity on the issue and as he explains, it all came back to when Weaver first applied.

Weaver had checked the box marked for Disaster Unemployment Assistance and only just recently checked the box for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Weaver says it was just over a week ago when he discovered the PUA check box in his application, to which he checked yes.

Weaver never thought there was an issue with his claim, since at the time of his applying, PUA wasn’t even an option.

DUA provides temporary benefits to workers or self-employed people whose livelihood was lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and do not meet eligibility requirements for regular unemployment.

The money for the DUA comes from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Other requirements include having one week of unemployment directly following the date of the disaster.

By Weaver selecting both options, his claim was put on hold for further review. Cannon explains that as of Monday evening, the claim has been manually moved to the PUA pool where “it will be set for payment tonight.”

Below is a statement from Cannon and the Tennessee Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development.

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