BUFFALO, N.Y. — A lot of you have contacted us about problems you're having signing-up for unemployment benefits. We’ve heard from dozens of Western New Yorkers frustrated with the process.
"It's unbelievable, 1,000 people just to take the incoming unemployment calls. That's how high the volume is. And, they still can't keep up with the volume. And, there's nothing worse than being unemployed and nervous about a paycheck. And then you call for unemployment benefits and you can't get through on the phone. I get it. I get it," said Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday morning in Buffalo. "It's not that because you couldn't make the call today, it means you're not going to get the benefit, you will get the benefit. It's just an annoying delay. And believe me, people are working seven days a week on it."
Michael Meyers was furloughed from his job as a car detailer April 4.
"I left the medical field to change positions a while back to go into detailing because I love working on classic cars," says Meyers.
Meyers says he will have a job to go back to, but for now, it's stressful taking care of his son and not knowing when the first unemployment check will arrive. He is raising his son who has autism by himself, and they rely on this income.
Since April 6 when he initially filed, Meyers has called the state labor department more than 2,000 times and hasn't gotten a call back like he was told he would. He says it's an emotional roller coaster.
"What would you tell the State Department of Labor if you could actually get a human on the phone to say something to them?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"Thank you so much for taking my call would be my first sentence. I realize that they have thousands of people calling in, and I guess maybe hire more people to handle this, this crisis of thousands of people being out of work," says Meyers. “I've been trying since April 6, and it's been three weeks and not a call back and absolutely nothing. So, it's getting a little hard here."
"So, it's definitely been more than 72 hours," said Dudzik.
"Yes, it has it. I don't worry. People are getting to 72 hours that looked at other people's posts in different forums. I never I don't know why people are saying 72 hours. I didn't get any kind of response, indicating that," says Meyers.
The NYS Department of Labor says if you aren't able to complete your application online, someone from the state will call you. The NYS Department of Labor also Tweeted that it's working around the clock to process every claim and get New Yorkers their benefits as quickly as possible. That Tweet did not mention getting a call back within 72 hours.
"I think it's dragging out a little bit too long. The normal unemployment when you call it, you should get through, but because this is massive, again, hopefully, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. That's all I'm praying for me and my son," says Meyers.
Meaghan Carlson is a hairdresser in Cheektowaga and sole provider for her family of three. She hasn't been able to work for five weeks and is waiting for a call back from the state.
"Luckily, we had a little bit of money saved for taxes this year that we've had to use now for the expenses that we couldn't push off like food and certain payments, health insurance payment, we've, you know, companies that aren't as willing to work with you. And, unfortunately, our landlord has not been all that understanding. I've communicated with them every step of the way. And, they still send us certified letters in the mail saying that we were late on our rent and that as soon as the 90-day eviction window that New York State has is lifted we'll be evicted if we don't pay our rent,” said Carlson.
Tuesday night, 2 On Your Side received a response to our media inquiry. We specifically asked the NYS Department of Labor about what people should do if they have not received a call within 72 hours and what people who have filed for PUA should do.
A spokesperson for the state says if you have applied, you do not need to reapply. People with pending applications of any kind will get a call back to finalize their applications. That call back may not come within that 72 hour time frame. It could take less time or more time.
You can still call the NYS Dept. of Labor with questions. Everything is retroactive, so you will be paid back to your first day of unemployment.