OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A federal unemployment program called Extended Benefits is ending, leaving people who rely on that money wondering what they’re going to do to support their families.
People collecting unemployment in Kansas are particularly concerned about the Extended Benefit program ending because many in the Sunflower State haven’t been receiving their unemployment checks as it is and are having a difficult time getting answers.
It’s become frustrating for those in Kansas who aren’t able to get help from the Kansas Department of Labor. They’re wondering where their unemployment checks are.
“It’s almost impossible to get a hold of them,” Dylan Caywood said. “I’ve called him 100 times. You might get through one phone call.”
When a claimant finally gets through, the reason for non-payment is another problem, Chad Fellers said.
“They tell everybody it’s a glitch in the system,” Fellers said. “That’s it. That’s all they say is it’s a glitch in the system.”
That glitch in the system has prevented Fellers, who lost his job as a construction liason due to the pandemic, from getting an unemployment check for the last eight weeks.
“You pay all this stuff out for times like this and then you feel like they let you down,” Fellers said.
Bar manager Dylan Caywood also lost his job due to COVID-19 and has gone five weeks without receiving his unemployment benefits because of the glitch in the KDOL system.
“It keeps you up at night honestly, not knowing when you’re going to get paid, how you’re gonna pay your bills, how you’re going to eat,” Caywood said.
Worry turned to panic when the Kansas Department of Labor posted a letter on its Facebook page to announce the Extended Benefits program was ending the week that ends on Dec. 12. The letter says that KDOL is prohibited from making any additional payments, regardless of any remaining balance of EB entitlement.
“I just want them to pay me the money that I’m owed,” Caywood said. “It’s not like it’s just free money. I’ve paid into this to get this money.”
KDOL’s communications director Jerry Grasso sent a statement to FOX4 confirming the end of the Extended Benefits program, but he noted that if an EB claim has been “approved but not received,” those outstanding payments will be made.
Read Grasso’s full statement below:
“On Nov. 23, KDOL announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) notified the state that Kansas has officially ‘triggered off’ of the unemployment insurance Extended Benefits (EB) program, bringing the program to its end.
“The federal agency’s announcement means that Kansans’ last payable week on the EB program will be the week ending Dec. 12, 2020. For more information on the EB announcement, please click here.
“If a claimant has been approved but not received payment for the EB program, or her or his case is awaiting adjudication or determination, any outstanding weekly benefit payment approved by KDOL will be paid accordingly even if the federal program has ended.”
The Kansas Department of Labor is contacting people affected by the EB program’s suspension. Many claimants may be eligible for The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.