LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There could be as many as 100,000 Kentuckians still waiting to receive unemployment benefits, according to Auditor Mike Harmon’s testimony to a General Assembly committee Tuesday.
Harmon presented some of his findings discovered during his Annual Statewide Single Audit, include the 25 issues with Kentucky’s Office of Unemployment Insurance.
Harmon told lawmakers some of the problems include the Office of Unemployment Insurance violating federal law, making ‘high-risk decisions’ that led to fraud, and ignoring more than 400,000 emails from claimants asking for help.
“In my opinion, the systemic failures in leadership’s attempt to address these issues, though really well-intended, actually created more problems than they resolved,” Harmon said. “Certainly, (the office) has faced tremendous challenges, but it’s been well over a year, and eventually you just have to figure it out.”
Lu’Cresha Allen agrees. Allen told WAVE 3 News she has a seasonal job that does annual layoffs, so she files for unemployment almost every year. However, this year, her claim is ‘under investigation.’ Allen said the system asks her to refile each time she requests her payment, so she hasn’t had any form of income since Nov.
“If it weren’t for friends and family, I’d probably be living in the streets with my 8-year-old daughter,” Allen said.
Allen, like dozens of other Kentuckians told WAVE 3 News they’re frustrated with the lack of help or answers from the state’s Office of Unemployment. According to Allen, it’s almost impossible to get through to the phone lines; the one time she did, she still wasn’t able to speak with someone who could help.
“From 9:00 am Thursday to 6:45 pm Thursday, I was on hold, getting hung up on, calling back, getting hung up on, calling back, getting hung up on, hours at a time,” Allen said.
Allen told WAVE 3 News she hopes the elected officials, like Gov. Andy Beshear can try to remember the thousands of other Kentuckians like her still waiting for benefits.
“There’s a lot going into the vaccine, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be; this is life and death,” Allen said. “But isn’t eating and having a roof over your head life and death too?”