Thousands of UI claims in 'active issues' preventing benefit payments

Thousands of UI claims in 'active issues' preventing benefit payments
Posted at 9:22 AM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 12:22:43-04

Unemployment benefits are beginning to flow for some who have been waiting weeks for payment while their cases were in an "active issues" status with the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), according to ABC15 viewers.

But many others are still waiting. Phoenix mom, Alicia Cordova's claim is one of them. She says she filed for unemployment on March 20.

"I have called easily over 1000 times," she said. She gotten through five times.

"Out of those five times, only one person knew what they were talking about and was transparent with what my case was," she said. "The last person finally told me no you’re waiting for an adjudicator."

According to DES there are still about 45,000 claims with "active issues" that need to be investigated before benefits will be approved.

The most common problems involves questions about a claimants ability to work, availability to work, voluntarily leaving employment, being discharged from employment, and receiving severance or vacation pay, according to a statement from DES spokesman Brett Bezio.

Regardless of the issue Bezio says, "an adjudicator will conduct a fact-finding to resolve any issues." That can include phone calls to the claimant and employer. "These reviews do take time as we must ensure we are adequately processing applications according to set guidelines and statutes."

DES says about 250 workers are dedicated to doing those reviews right now.

But Alicia, who also moderates a Facebook page about unemployment claims issues where workers share information they've learned while navigating the system. She says some in the group have been able to get a resolution just by calling in.

"It's kind of luck of the draw," she said. " It depends on who you get because some people clear their issues out with the agent."

"Per federal rules, contracted call center agents are not allowed to respond to questions about existing claims," Bezio said. Contractor ValorIT representatives "are only able to handle calls related to initial claims and PIN resets."

As of last week's check, ValorIT representatives made up about 120 of the unemployment office's 250 call center agents.

For now, Alicia says the Facebook group will have to do but she wishes DES

"We’re kind of like the blind leading the blind. But we’re just trying to streamline all that information that we’re putting together...that should be a little bit more forthcoming from DES," she said. "If DES were more forthcoming then we probably wouldn’t even need I guess a support group."