Unemployment benefits

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It's a big deal, when you're out of work and your 'unemployment' benefit, check doesn't arrive. A local woman, desperate for answers, turned to 12 On Your Side for help.

Lynette Hicks tried to file for an extension of benefits, but, couldn't get anyone on the phone. This went on for 3 weeks. That's when she wrote to us. We got a response from V.E.C. today -- but, it doesn't look good for the state agency.

"It's supposed to bridge the gap and right now it isn't bridging anything. I am this close to being homeless," said Lynette.

Lynette Hicks is packing, preparing to leave a home she can't afford anymore. The lag in her benefits isn't solely to blame, but it certainly adds to her frustration.

"I'm entitled to these benefits. This is my money too. I need access to my money," she said.

Her biggest gripe with the V.E.C ... Lack of communication. Lynette claims she's spent the past 3 weeks, calling.

"They pretty much try your call again later," said Lynette.

She needs to file for an extension of benefits but can't get through to VEC by phone, and she doesn't have transportation to file in person at the Mechanicsville office.

"You can't do it online. My whole claim is filed on line but you cannot file for an extension on line," she said. "You need a better system."

She'd like to see the state's website upgraded. We presented the suggestion to V.E.C. today. And was told, yes you can, the extension feature is there.

"Yes, there is. And we have also added an email," said Joyce Fogg, VEC Information Manager. "Is this extension benefit something new? No."

So, we tried ourselves, checking out all the obvious headings to click. Nothing. We got confirmation, that you cannot file an extension online, in a follow up phone call to VEC.

Diane Walker: "To make sure I have the correct information. We just checked. You can file an initial claim on line but you cannot file an extension. So this was just a misunderstanding of our question earlier."

It's now something being considered. In the interim though, send an email to customer service @vec.virginia.gov. You will get a response.

"All of us in central office are doing our best to assist them," said Fogg. "We are doing our best to assist people to find jobs."

V.E.C. called Lynette today. She's being helped with her problem.  V.E.C. says no two cases are the same, and often times, its simple mistakes, that cause payment interruptions.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.