Legal expert explains hurdles of getting unemployment benefits

A local legal expert says getting unemployment benefits during the pandemic may involve a few hurdles for some.
Aida Dimitrioiu, of New Rochelle, says she was out of work and tried to call for benefits numerous times to no avail.
"For three days, every time I called, every hour, the lines are tied up," says Dimitrioiu. "It was just a horrible thing. especially with the COVID-19 thing going on."
Dimitriou says she was running out of hope - until the Turn To Tara team stepped in and got some results for her.
She says she's all caught up now and was able to find another job.
Andrew Alter, a senior staff attorney with Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, says he and his colleagues have been helping Hudson Valley residents who qualify for their legal aid get their benefits.
"Fundamentally, the right is to receive these benefits in a very efficient and timely way. And be able to rely on them. And to be able to get the full amount of benefit they're entitled to by virtue of how much they've worked. And to receive them for as many weeks as they're eligible for them," he says.
Alter says some people may be falling through the cracks, not getting their benefits in part because of new federal eligibilities created because of the pandemic, and the technology used to process claims.
Jobless claims in the Hudson Valley for the week ending in Jan. 23, 2021 increased by 373%, compared to last year.
Alter says the most important thing people should know is to be persistent.
"You need to keep at it, you need to keep calling, you need to keep writing," he says.