Sign declaring unemployment system is down (March 17, 2020)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Many Kentucky residents looking to file for unemployment benefits in the wake of the business shutdowns caused by the novel coronavirus were met with frustration early in the week.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order Monday to help people claim unemployment benefits faster. To speed up the process, Beshear is waiving the seven-day waiting period to apply and waiving the work search requirements to renew benefits.

When you file the initial claim application and requests payment, staff will conduct the eligibility review and process the request at the same time. Once approved, the initial payment is for 14 days with a maximum weekly benefit of $552. You can request benefits every two weeks, for a maximum of 26 weeks or until you get another job.

But as of Tuesday morning, the online system was working only intermittently and at a very sluggish pace.

"We are obviously experiencing higher volume within our systems," JT Henderson, executive director of communications for the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said in a statement.

Henderson said the agency is working to increase its server capacity to offset the increase in volume.

"We are asking folks to stay patient as we do this," Henderson said.

Several viewers contacted the newsroom to say they were also having difficulty getting through on the agency's phone line.

Henderson said he was not aware of any issues with the phones.

A sign seen on the door of the unemployment office at the corner of South Sixth and Cedar streets on Monday said, "The unemployment system is currently down. We are unable to access any claims at this time. You are not able to file a claim at this time. Please check back tomorrow to make sure the system is back up and running. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you."

By Tuesday morning, the office was open, and there were long lines inside. The governor is encouraging everyone to use the website in order to avoid waiting in a crowded office.

In Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb has not made any changes to the unemployment process. Everyone is encouraged to apply online. Josh Richardson, the chief of staff for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said no one in Indiana needs to visit the unemployment office as all applications are supposed to be filed online.

There are several qualifications to claiming unemployment benefits, including the person must have worked for the last 12 to 18 months before losing the job along with how much a person was earning. And the person must be out of work at no fault of your own. Richardson said the vast majority of people out of work right now because of COVID-19 will meet the that requirement.

However, several members of the restaurant community told WDRB they applied Monday night and were denied Tuesday morning. Henderson said if anyone has been denied, they need to follow the instructions to appeal.

For more information on Indiana unemployment benefits, CLICK HERE.

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