Unemployment office making progress in processing claims
Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The struggle continues for some people trying to file their unemployment claims.
Wednesday marks one week since the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation first started rolling out its new computer benefits system. The web component launched on Monday.
On Tuesday, the agency said it's making progress processing thousands of claims despite complaints from people who turned to Action News after reaching busy signals or running into problems using the new web system.
"I have bills coming in," said Victoria Ginsburg, a single mother who is unemployed. "I'd have to ask family members to aid me in paying the bills so I don't default on anything."
Ginsburg is having trouble filing her weekly claim. She needs to speak with an operator but can't get past a busy signal. Ginsburg said she hasn't received unemployment benefits for over a week.
"The lines are busy," Ginsburg said. "So all you hear the whole day is busy, busy, busy."
Department director Frank Woodbeck said staff is working extra hours to handle the transition.
"We anticipated it'd be busy because you have between 45,000 and 50,000 claimants at any point in time within the system," Woodbeck said.
The agency has processed roughly 78,000 claims since last week and call centers handled 40,000 calls on Monday alone, Woodbeck said. The web system is up and running but taken offline in intervals to make sure it's working properly and isn't overwhelmed, he said. The new system was tested and built specifically for Nevada, Woodbeck said.
"Once the bugs are worked out, as any new computer system always has, it will be a very smooth running, very efficient and effective system," Woodbeck said.
The director is encouraging people who don't need to speak with an operator to use the automated phone system after hours or file online. Woodbeck said people who are just learning about the 59 percent cut to federal, extended unemployment benefits are also tying up phone lines. The worst of the cuts are in effect during the month of September as a result of the sequester.
Action News also reached out to Governor Brian Sandoval's office about the problems.
"The Governor has been aware of the problem and the efforts being made to remedy it," spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner said in an email. "Transitioning to a new system is difficult and it has taken longer than anticipated to get the system working."
Woodbeck said he expects the agency to remain busy through the end of the week.