Las Vegas Sun

August 24, 2017

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Fewer bugs in agency’s technology in delivery of unemployment checks

Nevada officials say the majority of those on unemployment have received their payments through the new $40 million computer system that has gotten off to a rocky start.

But at least two people who are jobless in Las Vegas say they have been shortchanged on their benefits.

The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said Monday in a press release it has processed 48,000 claims through its new system. But it says the online system may be down intermittently while testing is being completed to ensure accuracy of claims being filed.

And its automated telephone system has continued to run consistently since Sept. 4.

But some report the telephone system is busy or they wait hours for an answer.

Ivan Duron, an unemployed construction worker, said Monday his call finally got through on Saturday. But his payment was $80 short of the $230 he had been receiving.

He said he’s got to try again on Tuesday to find out why his payment was reduced.

Diane Wolf, an unemployed Teamster, said her payment was $70 short of what she had been getting.

The state worker she contacted on Saturday didn’t know how to remedy the problem.

“They’re still screwed up,” said Wolf.

Frank Woodbeck, director of the department, said those who have not been able to file on the automated telephone system should continue to call until they get through “so they can be paid as well.”

The department said last week nobody would lose benefits because the payments will be backdated. And the agency put in additional telephone lines to help alleviate the problem.

“We apologize for the inconvenience that our customers experienced during the implementation process. The new system is state of the art and will serve our customers extremely well for years to come,” said Woodbeck.

The system, four years in development, was launched in stages on Sept. 4. The department said there would be minor delays but the troubles were bigger than first announced.

Problems developed in filing over the Internet, and the agency was flooded with calls. It installed extra lines. But unemployed individuals both in Southern and Northern Nevada complained they either get busy signals or waited hours on the line, which then hung up on them.

Woodbeck said, “While we have processed the majority of claims, we are still extremely busy with those who are initiating their first unemployment claim, which is resulting in a busy signal.”

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