The Virginia Employment Commission said it is overwhelmed with the thousands of Virginians filing for unemployment during the Coronavirus pandemic. As of March 28, VEC said 112,497 people have filed an initial unemployment insurance claim.
However, some people say that since the system is so overwhelmed, it is getting difficult to get their claims in. On Thursday, 8News tried calling the number to file an initial claim over the phone.
“Thank you for calling the Virginia Employment Commission. At this time, all representatives are busy assisting other callers,” an automated voice said on the other line, “Please try your call again later.” Then the call hangs up without giving the caller a chance to be placed on hold.
Chesterfield resident Daniel Rodriguez was furloughed from his job at Brown & Root Industrial Services, LLC on March 16. Rodriguez said he did not have a problem filing his initial claim because he was ahead of the surge.
However, after filing an initial claim, you need to access the program weekly to continue getting payment. Rodriguez said that has been the issue for him. He had trouble accessing the online portal to file his continued claim for this week.
“I would hit submit and it would crash and say, ‘Sorry, there’s been an error, we can’t process your claim right now’,” Rodriguez told 8News.
A spokesperson for VEC said they are not aware of any system crashes, but they are aware of both the internet and phone systems moving very slowly.
“What are they supposed to do? The infrastructure can’t handle it,” said Rodriguez.
When 8News reporter Laura Perrot tried connecting to the online portal, the webpage would slowly load and eventually go through on some tries. But on other tries, the webpage never loaded.
Rodriguez thinks Gov. Ralph Northam is doing all he can by waiving the one-week wait period and lifting other restrictions on filing for unemployment.
“My opinion, more pressure needs to go to Washington to get them to act,” said Rodriguez.
He still has not gotten any details from VEC about this past week’s continued claim. However, his bank confirmed to him that there is a $350 e-check being deposited from VEC.
VEC said they are hiring additional employees right now to keep up with the demand, but it will take some time for them to get trained.
To learn more about how to file for unemployment, click here.