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FOCUS pushes state to act on unanswered unemployment claims

The FOCUS investigative team took Kentucky unemployment claims up the chain of command and got results.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear (D-Kentucky) continues to emphasize that we will get through this together, and that means we all have to do our part to take care of each other.

Our FOCUS unit has been working hard to do just that for those unemployed in the commonwealth due to COVID-19. Over the last several weeks, a flood of desperate emails came in expressing frustration and pleas for help.

FOCUS regularly makes a list of the names of those people who have reached out to us, their contact information, as well the description of what’s going on with their claims, and then sends those lists up the state’s chain of command. That has produced results.

“I’m absolutely convinced that it wouldn’t have gone through without you bringing some attention to it,” Edward Winfield, 46, said.

The unemployed bartender and father of two says when he could finally get a hold of a supervisor with the state unemployment office, she could only guess that the hold-up with his claim was due to his green card.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman (D-Kentucky) told FOCUS that having a green card shouldn’t matter because those workers still pay their taxes like everyone else.

Soon after that, Winfield finally got the help he had been waiting for since March.

“Literally a couple days after you did that, magically my claim went through and I got paid,” he said.

For Rhonda Stinnett, 48, her claim was under investigation because she was overpaid for unemployment 9 years ago. She says a supervisor told her that she would also not get the $600 federal help each week until she paid off the balance. That turned out to be not true.

“I don’t know who you got in touch with, but the next day (Wednesday) they had put the $600 into my account,” Stinnett said.

Meanwhile Ryan Reynolds, 35, had been waiting since mid-March, and the delay wasn’t due to his famous name. The unemployed chef believes it was a corrected W2.

“Whatever you guys have done, I hope you guys continue to do and help other people out,” Reynolds said.

He says a supervisor reached out to him to process his claim after FOCUS submitted his name to the state.

Reynolds wanted to thank Liz Carrier personally.

“She’s the one working that fight, there’s a lot of heroes in this fight and she needs to be known.”

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►Contact reporter John Charlton at jcharlton@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@JCharltonNews) and Facebook.