With overwhelmed website and phones, Kansans trying to get unemployment lose patience

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TOPEKA, Kan. — A website so outdated and overloaded that even the person in charge is having trouble logging in – that was the discouraging news Monday from the Kansas Unemployment Division.

“We are experiencing extreme technical difficulties at this time,” Kansas Unemployment Director Laura Klein Searles announced on Facebook.

Searles said that although her IT team had told her the system was working but slow, she acknowledged that even she had had problems logging in.

She said her staff had worked over the weekend and into the night with outside vendors to resolve the problems. But by late Monday afternoon, the website still wasn’t working, and a message pops up showing a server error.

So what should people do who are still trying to file for unemployment?

Searles said to call instead, noting that the call center staff has quadrupled. But calling still has challenges.

“I’ve been trying every day,” said 58-year-old Frank Donegan, who was laid off March 21. “There’s four phone numbers that people are told to call. I’ve got two phones one for work, one for personal. I sat there and dialed four different numbers back and forth: Busy, busy, busy. You just want to break your phones and start over.”

After weeks of trying, Donegan was able to reach someone Monday who helped him complete an unemployment form that he had already supposedly completed online weeks earlier.

Donegan was promised his first check would arrive within a couple of days, but he’s not holding his breath. Two of his nephews were approved for benefits three weeks ago and still don’t have a check.

“The unemployment needs to be fixed, and the government is not handing out money fast enough,” Donegan said.

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