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Virginia unemployment claims backlogged as frustrations rise

The VEC says it's expanded its call centers - but some Virginians say no one's picking up the phone.

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.

Send a message to your nearest VEC Office. VEC Central Office1-866-832-2363 Mailing AddressP.O. Box 26441 Richmond, VA 23261-6441 For TTY* Callers: Virginia Relay, Call 711 or 800-828-1120. * NOTE: Virginia Relay enables people who are deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf/Blind, or speech disabled to communicate by TTY (text telephone).

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