A month and a half after pandemic hit Oklahoma, many still without unemployment

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A month and a half after workers started getting laid off in Oklahoma, there are still many who have not received unemployment funds. 

 “I feel like I’m making excuses but I just don’t know where else go,” said Madeline Schrock. 

Schrock was immediately approved for unemployment, but almost a month later, her debit card has not arrived.

“Now it’s just more of an anxiety thing, everyday, everyday, checking your computer, checking them, calling them,” she said. “Yesterday, we were on the phone for three or four hours just sitting there and it didn’t even, nothing.”

Her husband has a serious heart condition and she’s afraid of getting him sick from going to work. However, she already had to take out loans to afford the medication he relies on.

“Thankfully with the stimulus check, I paid back one of them. It was just a little one but I had to take out an even bigger one and, you know, I already had a loan for my car. It’s just, I don’t know what to do now,” Schrock said.

Rick Tompson has been waiting to find out if he’s approved since February. He said communication with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission stopped after the pandemic hit.

“I just want some kind of answer. That’s all I’m looking for is an answer so we can kind of move forward,” Tompson said. 

Monday, a spokesperson with the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector replied to requests for comment from the OESC with a statement saying, 

We are equally frustrated with the delay in claimants receiving their debit cards. The call center received approximately 35,000 calls today.
OESC is working to resolve an issue that appears to preventing claimants from setting up direct deposit without first having to receive their debit card from the vendor. This will help tremendously in resolving the issue where claimants can see benefits have been deposited by OESC but are unable to access them because they haven’t received their debit card. Claimants should call Conduent at 866-320-8699 or visit 
www.goprogram.com for questions about their debit card.
OESC has expanded its number of Level 2 claims agents to 200 and are calling back claimants as quickly as possible to resolve issues that may be holding up eligibility determinations.
Over the weekend the agency pushed several updates to its website including enhanced ability to check claims status, reset their pin, and a new weekly claims filing process.

Laid-off workers say they’re working to stay afloat under the desperate situation.

“We’ve done all the things as tax paying citizens and we’ve done everything that we’re supposed to do. We just want to be taken care of when we need to be taken care of,” Tompson said. 

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