HARRISBURG (KDKA) – There have been more troubles with the unemployment system in Pennsylvania as beneficiaries discover how frustrating dealing with this government agency can be.
As KDKA money editor Jon Delano reports, more than a year after this pandemic shut things down, some still have not received their first unemployment check.READ MORE: Allegheny County Health Director Says Delta Variant Is Fueling Rising Cases, Hospitalizations
Jacob Moan of Millvale has been waiting 15 months to get his first unemployment check.
“Not a single dime, not a single penny has come to me at all through unemployment,” Moan told KDKA’s Jon Delano.
In March of 2020 when the pandemic hit, Moan was laid off from his restaurant job in Millvale. Like many, he applied early on for unemployment and was accepted.
“I had gotten the pin to get into the account, and I was even sent a card. I have the card right next to me,” says Moan.
But no money, state or federal, was ever deposited into his account, and it took a toll on Jacob and his mother.
“Throughout the whole entire time of us not having that unemployment money, there were times when me and my mother, we couldn’t eat at all, and we were struggling with paying bills,” he says.
Michele Gudenburr, Jacob’s mother, says Peoples Gas has shut off their gas, meaning no hot water for showers and washing.
“It’s been really trying, sir. I didn’t think I was going to make it back in September of last year, and I called for help,” Gudenburr says.READ MORE: 'Itchy Mites:' Preventing Bites And The Itch That Comes With A Mite Bite
She says family and friends helped her through her suicidal feelings and she’s doing much better now.
Moan is back to work, but they need the long-overdue unemployment checks to pay off all the bills that accrued over the last year or so.
“Unemployment acknowledging how much they owed my son, which was over 20 grand. And the first payment he was supposed to get on his unemployment card was $7,000 some dollars. He never got a penny,” says Gudenburr.
KDKA talked to Moan’s state representative, Sara Innamorato, who says he is not alone. She says there are over 200,000 citizens whose unemployment claims have yet to be processed.
Contacted about the ongoing issues with the Unemployment Compensation Office, a spokesperson for Labor and Industry sent the following statement:
“First and foremost, anyone who is struggling to cope with stress, anxiety or another type of mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic should reach out to the PA Support & Referral Helpline at 1-855-284-2494 to be connected to free crisis support and counseling resources. Pennsylvanians can also use the Mental Health Resources guide to find more help and information.
“Unemployment benefits are not intended to be an emergency assistance program for individuals in crisis situations. Additional resources and programs are available, such as assistance for individuals in need of health care, housing and rental costs, utilities, food, and other emergencies. These programs can be identified by contacting 2-1-1 or applied for through the Department of Human Services’ COMPASS. Older individuals are also eligible for a variety of assistance programs that can help during a time of crisis. These resources can be found through the individual’s local Area Agency on Aging.
“Regarding the unemployment compensation (UC) claims of the two individuals you reference, without more information we are unable to tell why these claimants have not received payments. Contacting UC directly is the fastest and safest way to get a response about a question on an unemployment benefit claim.
“All individuals who filed in March 2020 have had determinations made on their claims. Any individuals who did not receive payments because they were determined to be not eligible for benefits were provided with the opportunity to appeal the determination. However, unemployment compensation law is specific about who is or isn’t eligible for payments, and L&I cannot violate state or federal law to issue payments.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Weather: Temperatures Continue Rising On Thursday
“Since the new unemployment system launched on June 8, L&I has issued more than 1 million payments totaling more than $912 million. Those numbers are consistent with the weekly claims and new claims that were filed on the old system, indicating the strong majority of people have successfully transitioned to using the new system.”