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The ups and downs in the journey for unemployment payments

FOCUS is following the journey Benjamin Isaacs and explores the frustrations of filing claims from his perspective.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In-person appointments with specialists remain coveted opportunities for Kentucky unemployment filers who are still struggling to get their benefits.

After Kentucky Career Centers reopened across the commonwealth over a month ago, lines still form outside the Louisville office at 600 West Cedar Street.

That’s where Benjamin Isaacs, 70, had his appointment this week.

FOCUS has followed his journey with unemployment since he filed in January.

“The continuing saga of Ben Isaacs and Kentucky unemployment,” Isaacs said as he walked, using a cane, to the back of the line.

The former federal census worker, whose income ended when census work ended at the end of last year, reached out to FOCUS for help when his claim would not move forward and when his March phone appointment with Unemployment Insurance never happened.

After FOCUS pressed the Kentucky Labor Cabinet to review his claim, Isaacs eventually received thousands of dollars in backpay in April.

But that suddenly stopped as his claim locked up when he tried to request more payments.

Therefore the in-person appointment he scheduled.

“My friends and I at the census bureau, none of us have had a legitimate, regular file every two weeks ability to do anything,” Isaacs said. “It’s always been these backpay forms, so what we hope to happen is it just starts being regular unemployment filings.”

That’s what Isaacs says he hoped to accomplish with a specialist he’s been in contact with and who he was supposed to meet with.

“I’m hoping to meet the woman who’s been helping me…and thank her,” Isaacs told another filer in line.

But as FOCUS was trying to tell his story, security, including Louisville Metro Police officers, as well as the unemployment office’s manager came out and accused Isaacs of “wearing a wire” and accused FOCUS of trying to have him secretly record his meeting inside.

At that point, we had already taken the microphone we used to interview him off, and explained to the UI manager and security that he was never going to wear it inside.

Still, the false accusations continued as the manager told Isaacs, “They understand that you can’t come in with that and that’s really underhanded,” to which I responded, “One more time, and this is for the record, he was never going inside with a microphone.”

WHAS11 has filed a complaint with the governor’s office which promised to respond about the incident, but still hasn’t.

Also, during Tuesday’s virtual press briefing with Gov. Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, FOCUS asked him about the complexities and resources involved with unemployment claims coming from federal and military workers.

Gov. Beshear responded that written statements would be provided on that.

Meanwhile, despite security ordering Isaacs that he would have to come back another day for an in-person appointment, he was eventually allowed in to meet with the specialist.

“She is going to stay on top of it and monitor it, she’s been terrific the whole time,” Isaacs said after.

Isaacs also addressed what happened before going inside, calling it harassment.

“What is the saying in the Washington Post? Democracy dies in darkness, well, this was the perfect example of it,” Isaacs said. “They want to shut me down, they want to shut you down, good luck.”

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

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