People in Tri-Cities waiting on unemployment checks, legislators trying to get answers

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL)- Thousands of Tennesseans are waiting on their unemployment checks, some for over a month.

“They say to have patience, but patience can only go so far,” Sandra Compton said.

She said she waited on her unemployment check for a month.

In 2016, the state moved the process for filing for unemployment completely online. Since then, the state said a backlog has piled up of 6,000 people waiting on their checks beyond the 21 days the federal government allows.

State representatives from the Tri-Cities said it’s the number one call they are getting right now — people from their districts wondering where to turn after waiting on their checks for weeks, sometimes months.

“I’ve had to ask for help from my parents first time in 28 years of marriage — and that was tough — when the electricity is going to be turned off and the guy is giving us ‘till noon to pay it,” Compton said.

Compton says, with a son and husband with disabilities, she is the main source of income for her family.

“By the time that you’re done paying off everything there’s not really much money for groceries. We’ve already been through all of the savings that we’ve had,” Compton said.

She said not only has she waited for her check, she’s had to wait for any answers as to if she is even navigating the new system correctly.

“There’s nobody there to explain to you…to answer your questions So it just makes it really tough,” Compton said.

State representatives from the Tri-Cities told News Channel 11 they’ve collectively gotten calls from hundreds of people waiting on their checks.

“What I’ve been able to do is to try to get human beings to contact the unemployment folks just to get them a better idea of where their claim is when they may be able to expect to get some unemployment,” Rep. David Hawk (R- Greeneville) said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development said they hope to clear the backlog of 6,000 claims this month and have new procedures in place that should speed up the system.

Rep. Timothy Hill (R- Blountville) said he and other legislators are scheduling a meeting with the Department of Labor to find out the root cause of the delays.

The legislators we talked with said to contact your local representative if you are still waiting on your unemployment check.

Since we talked with Compton she has gotten her unemployment check.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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