Many New Yorkers struggle to obtain unemployment benefits

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eyewitness News has learned many New Yorkers are still struggling to get their unemployment benefits, as the state announced today an additional 207,000 people have filed for unemployment.

Felipe Ramos, of Pelham Bay, filed for unemployment March 28 after he was laid off from his job as an ambulette driver. He has not received any payments even though the automated system through the state unemployment phone line confirms he has an active claim on file. He has tried to speak with a representative, but he can't get through to anyone.

"My rent is up this month, coming up. I don't know where I'm going to get the money from," he said. "I don't know whether to go out there and expose myself and look for work. I'm the only source of income for my family."

Sean Quinn, 29, of Napanoch, has been going through similar frustrations.

He filed for unemployment in mid-March after being laid off from his construction job, but has yet to receive any payments.

"It says I have a valid claim on file and that it's just pending," he said. "I go through the whole thing to speak with a representative and it just always hangs up. I call literally like hundreds of times a day."

Quinn has been living off his savings, which is drying up quickly.

"I don't know what to do at this point. I really don't," he said.
Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to Governor Andrew Cuomo, addressed the backlog during the Governor's daily press briefing Thursday.

She said the federal government after passing the CARES Act March 27 then put out guidance that people had to apply for unemployment, get rejected and then apply for pandemic unemployment.

DeRosa described it as a "complete disaster."

"So now the majority of the backlog is from that category of people," she said.

The state rolled out a new, streamlined online application Monday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo assured people they will get their checks.
"You will get the check. I know you want it today, but you will get it," he said.

Cuomo said all payments will be retroactive.

"It's not going to cost you any money," he said.

A spokesperson for the state Labor Department said the state has added 2,600 representatives to phone lines to deal with unemployment claims and has made 600,000 call backs.

In New York State, 1.4 million people have filed for unemployment. The state has distributed $2.2 billion in unemployment benefits.

To file for unemployment benefits in New York State, visit labor.ny.gov or call the Telephone Claim Center at 888-209-8124.

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