VIRGINIA, USA — Unemployment claims have been backlogged for months, according to the Virginia Employment Commission, which says the number of claims it's received since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed the one million mark.
Now, some Virginians say they can’t even get ahold of someone over the phone.
The Q&A team followed up with VEC Communications Manager Joyce Fogg to get an update.
Q: How long is the current backlog for unemployment claims?
A: Fogg says the wait for a hearing is at least a couple of months
Q: Why is there such a long wait?
A: According to Fogg, the VEC has responded to or paid 92% of the more than 1 million claims filed during the pandemic. But she also told us this volume of claims is unprecedented and that the agency is completely flooded.
Q: What steps has the VEC taken to reduce the backlog?
A: The VEC has grown its call center from 80 people at the beginning of the pandemic to more than 500 workers, according to Fogg. She also says the commission has:
-Deployed staff from other departments within the agency to help with processing claims
-Hired back retired staff to eliminate the training period
-Is continuing to hire
Q: What should you do if you can’t get through on the phone?
A: Here are some tips from the VEC:
-Keep trying their general inquiries number: 866-832-2363
-Call before 8:30 a.m. during the week or before 9 a.m. on Saturdays. That’s when phone lines are less busy.