Alabama unemployment system glitches cause claims issue

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Some Alabama residents spent the holiday weekend struggling to claim their weekly unemployment benefits.

The Alabama Department of Labor told local news outlets that about 53,000 people were blocked from filing the required weekly report telling state government that they still don’t have a job. Only then will another week’s worth of unemployment benefits will be issued.

The department said Monday that it had resolved the problems as the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections rose by 154 to more than 14,500 and the number of confirmed deaths rose by nine to 560. While many Alabama residents went to lakes or Gulf of Mexico beaches for the Memorial Day holiday, others watched programs commemorating war dead online as many in-person ceremonies were canceled.

New rules from Gov. Kay Ivey went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday allowing entertainment venues like bowling alleys, arcades and theaters as well as child care facilities to reopen subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules. Youth sports practices also have been allowed to resume, though competition won’t begin until June 15, and summer camps are now allowed to open.

For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The state Labor Department said technical glitches led those who tried to file their weekly certification to have their account suspended.

“Your access to the Internet Weekly Claim System has been suspended,” said the message reported by Al.com. “You have had two chances to enter earnings for your claim. Failure to call within 4 calendar days from today’s date could result in a denial of benefits.”

Spokesperson Tara Hutchison told WSFA-TV claimants were not seeing errors Monday morning and that suspensions had been lifted.

However, a second message indicating filings had been made also caused some confusion.

“Some of you saw a message on your trackers indicating that the week has already been filed for you,” the department wrote online late Sunday. “This was an error. You will need to go back and certify yourself, online or by phone. Again, we apologize for all of the inconveniences today, we know it has been stressful.”

As of May 19, ADOL had disbursed more that $1 billion in unemployment benefits to a little more than 250,000 people, according to ADOL figures. A vast majority of the money comes from the federal government’s coronavirus relief program. More than $850 million has come from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, the additional $600 most are receiving in their unemployment check.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.