Despite struggles, man grappling with KDOL issues helps guide others through system

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The State of Kansas continues to struggle paying people unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor says on March 1, it will begin paying some while others will need to wait.

One metro man is helping others navigate the system while he waits in line like everyone else. Damon Walker hasn’t seen a dime of unemployment since December. He says the department of labor’s system isn’t working for them, and it’s not working for him either.

Every day he counts down the seconds. 

“I literally know that my phone takes about four to five seconds to connect. So, I wait until it’s 7:59 and 55 seconds, and that’s when I call in. More often than not, it’s too late or the phones are already jammed, it’ll hang back up on me, or give me a busy signal,” Walker said.

Despite calling and calling, Walker says his last payment was in December, and no one can tell him when they will be back on track.

KDOL says its phone lines are getting jammed due to auto-dial calls. The calls at times occur every 19 seconds, clogging the queue keeping people like Walker on hold.

KDOL says its antiquated system is a large part of the problem, which has sparked legislation to fix the issue. 

Payments will resume on March 1 for some, but Walker doesn’t know if that includes him.

“There’s 90 cents in my bank account. I am living on the good graces of other people. Thankfully, I was eligible for SNAP benefits. So, I am receiving some food assistance, which I’m very grateful for. However, my car insurance is going to lapse at the end of this month. My phone bill is due on the 28th. And it’s already past due,” Walker said.

Despite all of this, he’s helping others through Facebook. He does open Zoom meetings to help people navigate the system and keep others from waiting on hold for sometimes up to 4 hours.

“I’ve been doing my best to help people because that’s what I enjoy doing. So honestly, it would be great to get some relief from myself, but I, I want everyone’s problems to get fixed, not just my own,” Walker said.

Even though Walker knows their site more than most, he says recently he logged in and found something shocking — someone else’s personal information and social security number.

Walker says the new KDOL website requires a two-step authentication and the system had him set up a new account with a new email he created for it. When he logged in, he found the personal information of a woman in Wichita, including her date of birth all linked to his account.

“If I had not gone to the personal information portion of the website; I wouldn’t have known any better. There was no indication otherwise that it wasn’t my account,” Walker said.

“If I was a scammer, I would have been able to file an initial claim and enter my bank account information on her profile and route those funds to myself.”

Walker says he tried to find the woman to let her know but couldn’t make the connection.

KDOL says it is not experiencing any known information issues and it is the first case they are aware of. Walker says the department reached out to him and is working to resolve the issue.

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