DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With first-time unemployment requests continuing to climb, some Ohio residents are getting frustrated with the lack of assistance they feel they’re receiving from the unemployment office.
Dayton resident Anthony Creech worked as manager at a Walmart Auto Center before having a heart attack in December 2019. He was just getting back to work when the pandemic started, forcing him to request government assistance.
“I tried signing up for unemployment. Couldn’t get through, couldn’t get through. Finally got through. I got around $4,000, maybe $5,000 in payments counting the $600 a week the government was backing you with.”
But he said the government later took that money back and told him to request pandemic unemployment assistance in order to keep receiving payments.
“I said, ‘Awesome, let’s sign up,'” Creech explained.
“[The unemployment office responded] ‘Oh we can’t until someone releases you.’ So I go back to unemployment, asked them to release me. [They said] ‘Oh we can do that. Give them a week and they’ll text you.’ I never got nothing.”
Now Creech, who suffers from COPD and a heart condition, has had to move family members into his home just to stay afloat. And the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services said they’re doing all they can to be more responsive.
“We added 300 call center agents and adjudicators to our team to provide much needed help with the historic volume of calls and claims,” said Kim Hall, director of the Department of Jobs and Family Services. “And we’re in the process of bringing on 300 more.”
She said the department has also implemented a new text-to-file program where individuals can begin filing their weekly claims via text.
“Claimants who would like to take advantage of this new option can text the word ‘start’ to the number 36230 from the mobile phone number that we have on file for them. Once we confirm their identities, they’ll be prompted to answer the weekly eligibility questions and then we’ll receive a confirmation message verifying that they have submitted their weekly claim successfully.”
She said the new program will take pressure off online and phone representatives to process the high volume of claims they’re receiving.
After being denied repeatedly and getting the runaround, Creech said he’s just looking for some answers for himself and his family.
“Sure we were trying, because we got little ones, you know? We try to act like we’re happy but I guess the real secret is is to live one day at a time, but we’re kind of running out of time. And by a certain point, somebody needs to be accountable because they aren’t.”
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