‘They’re sorry for my wait’: Family waiting 6 months for unemployment aid

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The delay in receiving unemployment benefits from the state of Tennessee continues to frustrate a young family. Their case is complicated, so, it was sent off for adjudication to be reviewed by the state, but how long is an appropriate amount of time to reach a decision?

This family has waited six months for a decision to be reached on their unemployment benefits claim. The State Labor Department added staff in Nashville to handle the unprecedented number of unemployment claims filed after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Delays occur when there are difficult cases such as independent contractors, someone who is self-employed, even an injury that requires documentation from a medical professional.

It’s been a stressful time for Cory Curberson and his fiance BB LeDoux. About the time their 6-month-old son Corbin was born, Cuberson lost his job due to the pandemic. In their home, there are also three teenagers. Fortunately, LeDoux has a job with a call center was able to barely keeps them afloat financially.

Just as he lost his job, Curberson broke his arm in a fall, and it required surgery. The cast will be removed in August. He applied for state unemployment benefits in January. Regarding his claim status, the summary says it’s “in progress”.

He says, “I’ve contacted them through chat, that’s the only way you can contact them. But usually, once you get on chat that starts at 8:30 in the morning. You are in chat and you are in the queue. That queue usually lasts half of your day. You cannot leave that queue, or it restarts.”

When he received a response, the information wasn’t encouraging; he’ll just have to wait his turn, but he’s been waiting for 27 weeks and it’s been more than stressful.

LeDoux says, “It’s very frustrating not hearing from the state, and for Curberson not being able to work. He enjoys getting up, going to work, and providing.”

Due to his broken arm, the state asked Curberson to send information from his doctor. The Labor Department’s benefits record reads, his case is being adjudicated.

Curberson says, “It says that my medical registration has to go to an adjudicator. A person with a special license from the state to make a determination on your case. There is nothing wrong with my case, but it just has to wait its turn.”

In one of the chat messages from the state, he found out why a decision in his case is taking so long.

“There are over one million active and current claims in Tennessee right now. And each one has to be looked at individually. They’re sorry for my wait and everyone is having a long wait,” he read.

Curberson and LeDoux agree that the last 6 months with him out of work and waiting on the state for benefits, is one of the hardest experiences they’re gone through. The state’s response to us is that Curberson may be eligible for pandemic unemployment assistance and his case is being reviewed.

They remain hopeful that soon they’ll receive either a yes or no answer. For Curberson, his goal is to find a clerical position that doesn’t require heavy lifting due to his arm injury. The state continues to make its way through the backlog of unemployment benefits claims.

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