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People in Tennessee waiting a while for unemployment benefits

By Lyndsey Price, lprice@wcyb.com
Published On: Sep 12 2013 04:59:23 PM CDT
unemployment benefits
KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

Unemployment numbers continue to fall but the wait times to get Tennessee unemployment benefits seem to be going up.

Unemployment numbers have fallen but for some people in the area the impact of the hurting economy isn't going away. "I lost my income and my health insurance, and that was important to me. A week after that I had been diagnosed with melanoma," says April Frost, who has been waiting on her unemployment benefits.

Frost tells us she worked at a local health department for nine years and was laid off with little warning. "Knowing I had cancer, that I'd been diagnosed with that, it seemed helpless. It really did," adds Frost.

Frost tells us she filed an unemployment claim on July 12. "At 61 days I still hadn't heard anything so I decided to go to the offices in person," says Frost.

Frost tells us another problem she's having is figuring out who to ask about the benefits, because you can no longer apply in person -- you have to call the claim center or go online. "If you're here for anything regarding unemployment you had to just call a phone number or go to a website, which I had been doing for 60 days," adds Frost.

Frost says the changes have been frustrating. We learned the reason for the change in filing reports comes from shortage of federal funds. "When that funding ran out we made the tough decision to reduce and have a reduction in force. We closed some centers," says Jeff Hentschel with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Frost learned her check was mailed Wednesday after a long 62-day wait. Now, she wants to give advice to others that may go through what she did. "They need to think smart and they need to plan ahead, because they are going to have to cover their finances, bills, survive and take care of their families for up to two months or more," adds Frost.

Meanwhile, Frost decided to go back to school to finish her degree in nursing. "I got the financial aid to be able to go back so hopefully I can finish out this degree and put this in the past far behind me," says Frost.

Both Frost and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development say you need to know if you should apply for benefits by phone or online before trying to file a claim. For a link to a website where you can find help, click here.