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DES working through backlogged unemployment claims; 10,000 Arizonans still waiting


 Rebecca Rorabaugh was furloughed weeks ago from her job as a hotel concierge and has spent every day since trying to navigate Arizona's unemployment system.

"This will be seven weeks without payment," she told 3 On Your Side. "I've gone past frustration, I've gone past the anger, and now I just feel forgotten and hopeless."

Rorabaugh says the Dept. of Economic Security (DES) lost her paperwork several times, and her phone calls and emails go unanswered. She says she was sent through an appeals process and ultimately approved for unemployment, but has yet to receive payment.

"I know there are others in the same position," she said.

Brett Bezio, a spokesperson for DES, says there 10,000 Arizonans currently waiting for a determination on their claims, a sharp drop from weeks ago when the backlog of undetermined claims reached 40,000.

"DES made significant progress this week to resolve common active issues across UI claims and expedite benefits for Arizonans in need," Bezio said in an email. "Our adjudicators are working seven days a week to resolve approximately 10,000 remaining unemployment insurance claims that have yet to receive a benefits determination."

Arizona is not the only state scrambling to meet unprecedented demand on unemployment systems. Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee about the issues many states are facing.

"Our job is not done helping workers during this challenging time," Scalia told lawmakers. "The state unemployment insurance computer systems are really old, they are bulky, but we have tried to help by making our chief information officer available."

"We do believe states have found fixes and workarounds," he added.

Rorabaugh says it's not enough, as she has had to put the mortgage, the credit card bill, and the car payment on hold.

"I don't know what the answer is, but whatever they're doing isn't working," she said.
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Friday, 19 July 2024

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