Ever since the federal government renewed its unemployment extensions, the Missouri Department of Labor has been overwhelmed with phone calls from people trying to find out what they need to do to continue receiving benefits.
“The problem is we have people who have exhausted (their benefits) for six, seven weeks now. So that’s just a lot of weeks, individuals are frustrated, this is their life line,” said Amy Susan with the Missouri Department of Labor.
She says that’s why they’ve created a new online tool that can help people find out if they even need to do anything at all. Whether or not you need to actually talk to the department about your unemployment benefits largely depends on whether or not you’d already started into the four-tier extension system.
“Rather than sitting on the phones all day and all night, rather than calling from their cell phones, their husband’s cell phones, sister’s cell phones and home phones all at the same time. If we can focus and get more people to use this online tool to help them decide if they need to call us or not, if they do not need to call us; then we can open up that phone line for those individuals that do need to get ahold of us to establish that claim,” Susan said.
She says the tool was intended to be user friendly.
“Plug in a bit of their information, a few pieces of information such as their name, last name, date of birth and so on. Our claims text will look up their claim to identify what program they’re open and then send them the additional information that includes instructions on whether they need to call or not to call,” Susan said.
Susan says 55,000 Missourians had their benefits expire since the beginning of June.
“This is some form of correspondence with us. We know you’re there, we know you’re trying to get ahold of us, this is just another attempt to try to reach out to these folks and let them know, remain patient, look at these instructions, find the program or the scenario that you’re on, and just read those instructions,” Susan said.
Susan says in payments should start going out in the next one to five weeks for those that are eligible to resume receiving benefits. She says within 24 hours of launching the online tool, more than 700 Missourians had used it.
Follow this link for our previous coverage of the unemployment extensions.