In-person unemployment benefit meetings start in Kentucky

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Kentuckians looking for unemployment benefits are meeting face-to-face with Kentucky Career Center workers for the first time since the pandemic’s start.

It follows recent problems with the state’s online portal and some Kentuckians not getting their benefits in a timely manner.

Since this morning, people have been waiting outside the Career Center office on Fairview Drive for their number to be called. Some say they hope to finally get help to get their claims processed after months of problems.

“I have now not received any unemployment money for the last month-and-a-half or so,” said Jacquelyn Gesser of Owensboro.

“I’m here to see if I can get unemploytment from January 13th to the present day,” adds Mark Gordon of Owensboro

Those were some reasons people met with Career Center workers in-person. Some like Jeffery Duncan of Hopkins County say they are owed months of unemployment, worth thousands of dollars.

“I tried to do everything as best as I could, you know, but it didn’t do any good,” he said, recalling efforts over the phone and internet with state officials o get money owed to him.

It’s the first time since before the pandemic some could talk with unemployment office representatives directly.

“I had a bit of trouble last time with my last online application, and it was almost impossible to get anyone on the phone, they were overwhelmed,” Gordon recalled.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says 9,500 appointments were made across the state for the next two weeks.

“This is really going to help us, given the amounts of fraud that have started, really since December and trying to find the needle that is the real claim from the haystack of all the fraudulent claims that have come in,” he said during Thursday’s press conference.

These in-person meetings are also the first meetings career centers have had since 2017, when the state stopped in-person meetings at those offices.

State officials say starting next Monday, Kentuckians can set up for another round of appointments that will start on May 3rd.

(This story was originally published on April 15, 2021)

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