What’s the holdup with Georgia jobless benefits? Labor chief explains

Georgia Department of Labor office in Augusta.
Georgia Department of Labor office in Augusta.(WRDW)
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 7:56 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler addressed complaints about the “slow” processing of unemployment claims.

“Understand that a regular individual filing a claim, even during a normal process, takes about 21 days because unemployment is not something you just sign up for and then you automatically get it. That’s not how the system is designed. It’s an insurance program,” said Butler.

That process could be longer or shorter. Butler said there’s a lot of vetting, looking for scams and fact-checking, that goes into the process. He said the more accurate your form is, the faster the process will be.

That includes making sure you have your legal name on the form.

Butler said the speed of the process can also be determined by your last employer, especially if there are any disputes over your unemployment claim. He said 91 percent of claims are being paid out, but that still leaves around 100,000 claims with issues, which can cause a delay in you getting benefits.

“Unemployment is very complicated,” said Butler.

Butler said they are inadequately staffed right now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s gonna be a little bit of a long lag now because you’re talking the workload is literally times a thousand right now, so a little bit more than that actually,” said Butler.

However, the Department of Labor is using innovations, especially with technology, to keep up with the demand.

“There’s only so many hours in the day that you can work. People say, ‘Why don’t you guys work 24 hours?’ Well, I mean the staff does have to sleep. They do have to get rest. They’re already working, 10 to 12 hour days, seven days a week. And even though our career centers are not open to the public, those people are showing up for work every single day,” said Butler.

Butler said phone lines will be busy. Staff members are answering hundreds of calls about unemployment claims. He said don’t give up on getting your questions answered.

Butler said some of the best ways to get your questions answered by calling 877-709-8185, using their social media accounts or by using the DOL website.

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Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.