PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In just three days, the federally-funded $600 boost will end for people collecting unemployment.
This news comes as KDKA learned eight percent of Pennsylvanians trying to collect unemployment money continue to sit and wait for their claims to be processed.
KDKA investigator Meghan Schiller checked back in with two people she interviewed last week as they waited for their checks. She reached back out hoping for some good news, only to find out they’re still waiting and watching their bank accounts go even further into the red.
If 2020 had a sound, it would sound like a busy signal. The sound of waiting and uncertainty. The sound Scott Kirschler hears every time he calls the state’s unemployment office.
“The silence is deafening so I don’t know what to do,” said Kirschler.
He’s a father of three from Pine Richland, and KDKA investigator Meghan Schiller first talked to him last week and now one week later?
“My car insurance is due and I don’t have the money to pay for it,” he said.
Kirschler filed for unemployment on June 3, and he’s now faced with the daunting task of calling his car insurance company to ask for a pass.
“It’s very degrading, I can tell you that,” said Kirschler. “I never applied for unemployment. I’m college educated and I’ve worked since I was 16 years old.”
He’s one of some 90,000 people in Pennsylvania who need to know if they are going to get money or a rejection letter.
State Secretary of Labor and Industry Jerry Oleksiak refers to them as the eight percent.
“The remaining 8 percent are claims that need to be reviewed manually and were not automatically approved for various reasons,” said Sec. Oleksiak.
As of this week, Oleksiak said 92 percent of Pennsylvanians who applied for unemployment benefits either saw cash appear in the bank or received rejection letters.
State Rep. Dan Miller says unemployment issues consume his staff.
“The majority of people who reach out to us on unemployment are coming either via email or phone,’ said Rep. Miller, D-42nd District. “I would say my staff is working incredibly hard, the best that we can, to provide honest and straightforward help. And probably 90 percent of the time, that is what we are spending our time on.”
Rep. Miller hopes Congress can push through a second round of stimulus checks in the coming weeks.
Sec. Oleksiak says if you’re owed money, then you will get your money.
“If anyone is still waiting on payments from any weeks from April 4 through July 25, you will be made whole and you will receive those benefits,” Rep. Miller said.
As for the people waiting since April or late spring, Susan Dickinson, the director of the Unemployment Compensation Benefits Program, said those people are now on a list that staff is going through name by name.
“So they are proactively going in and looking at those and if they sent an email that is a very good thing (because) that gets someone a place in line,” said Dickinson.
If you still have unemployment questions, including the end of the $600 federal benefit, you can ask your questions directly to the experts on July 23, from 1-2 p.m.
A livestream will be online here. Those without internet access can listen by calling 1-833-380-0719. However, access is limited, so the Department of Labor and Industry asks that those spots be reserved for individuals who need them.