Turn To Tara exposes problems accessing benefits in New York

The coronavirus outbreak has left hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers unemployed, but some workers looking to secure the unemployment benefits they are entitled to say they are running into some infuriating challenges.

News 12 Staff

Mar 31, 2020, 9:33 PM

Updated 1,516 days ago

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The coronavirus outbreak has left hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers unemployed, but some workers looking to secure the unemployment benefits they are entitled to say they are running into some infuriating challenges.
Liz Endrich is newly unemployed after losing her job this week at a warehouse in Pleasantville due to the coronavirus.
As soon as the shock wore off, she set out to file for unemployment benefits, but so far, she says things have not exactly gone her way.
"We are taking turns on two phones and calling all day, it's insane,” she says.
Endrich now sits in her Sleepy Hollow home connected to her cellphone, desperately trying to reach anyone at the New York State Department of Labor since people can only complete their application by making a phone call.
“From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., I’ve been on the phone...then it disconnects you,” she says.
News 12 witnessed the same thing during a Zoom conference chat on Friday afternoon.
“It's totally frustrating. I don't know what to do. I walk the dog, go for a run. And then knowing I have to come back to this and dial again,” she says.
Endrich said she Turned to Tara as a last resort, hoping News 12 could help resolve the situation for her and others going through the same thing.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment surged to a record 3.3 million just last week alone - the largest jump in new claims in history. In New York, claims increased a staggering 520% from this time last year.
When News 12 reached out to the New York State Department of Labor regarding the application delays, it said the team is working around the clock to get everyone benefits.
It has extended hours, server capacity and staff working the phones, but with 1.7 million calls to its hotline in seven days, it's proving to be a game of whack-a-mole.
To help ease the strain, it is now implementing a filing system based on the first letter of people’s last names:
A through F has Monday, G through N has Tuesday and O through Z has Wednesday.
Any claim you filed will be backdated to the date of people’s unemployment, so no one will lose money.
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