It’s no secret that it’s been a constant challenge to try and get in touch with someone at your state unemployment office for issues with your unemployment claims (e.g. why is it stuck or on-hold) and/or benefit processing questions. This has been exacerbated with 2021 extensions to the PUA and PEUC program that has left states scrambling to update their antiquated IT systems and created mass confusion for jobless people who are stuck in unemployment benefits limbo (video).
What’s worse is that even if you do get through to a live agent/representative to get clarity on why certain benefits have stopped or are not being paid, you may end up getting vague or incorrect answers (as was recently the case with the CA EDD). This has create a lot of anger and left people desolate as they are in desperate need of their UI benefits to make ends meet.
What is also happening is that many of the state unemployment representatives are new and are themselves dealing with the antiquated systems many state unemployment departments have, so if you feel like you are getting the run around ask to speak to a manager or someone who has access to do something with your claim. Don’t let them transfer you or give you the run around. A good tip I heard was to get their name and ID number (if applicable) so you can use their name when talking to them (builds a bond and makes them more likely to help) or on the other end you can use their name if escalating an issue or want to file a complaint.
Many readers have commented that it took them several hours and hundreds of attempts to try and speak to someone around their unemployment questions. And even if one does get through to a live representative they don’t always get an answer from the call center person they speak to, who often is not even aware of the new provisions in place and really just there to triage calls. It’s been very frustrating and creating a lot of financial hardship as you can see from some of the comments below.
Moe, from Florida commented, “who do I contact for missing FPUC payments? Every rep you speak with gives you a different answer. So far last week I had one that gives the normal “there’s nothing we can do” response. Then there was one rep who was going to give me a phone number but it sounded like the 833-FLapply #, and we started to argue on that and she claimed it was a different #, but the call got disconnected. And then there was one who told me they have a system they can see the dates the FPUC payments were made, but it’s a separate screen only they can see. I’m not sure why this has to be such a mystery. I mean they have to have some way of knowing how much and what dates they payments they are issuing are for. Why is this so difficult? Everything with my account is for the most part fine now, except I never got the retro payments. People many people that filed after me have made claims that all their payments are caught up. It doesn’t make sense.
Kristen who is in a tough spot commented, “I’m a substitute teacher in Texas and my benefits just ran out i only got paid for one week this week due to regular benefits since I’m part time covid emergency benefits only qualified it says they will contact us on whether are benefits are extended per case in Texas but I’ve gotten nothing by mail call or email and i cannot get anyone on the phone anywhere to ask if im gonna get the extended benefits or not and when ill know or any correspondence regarding it since i should being that i cannot go back to work yet and did and since school isn’t back in yet i’m not sure if qualify for the summer months or not this is my first year doing it and i don’t know what i’m supposed to do just that i’ve got kids bills to pay and don’t know now since i wasn’t expecting to be totally dropped and hoping to receive notice by now that i might auto extend on the benefits like it says we will online for the extra benefits amounts after exhausted this last week i’m not being paid for i just don’t know how i’m gonna live now can anyone in the same situation help?
If Calling Does Not Work Try These Alternative Contact Options to Get Information on Your Unemployment Claim
State unemployment offices are already overburdened and short on staff trying to manage the surge in claims. On top of this they’re using old and antiquated systems that have struggled to handle all the processing/certification that needs to take place for the enhanced unemployment provisions enacted this year. But from what I’m seeing via readers on this site and other forums is that there are a few other ways (and often more effective) that you can use to get in touch with your state UI agency other than via phone. Below are some alternate options you can use if you are finding calling and staying on hold for several hours is not working for you.
Niocolo shared her frustrations with trying to get in touch with someone, “Can someone tell me how they are getting through the phone system to actually speak with an agent? I have tried repeatedly over a 4 week period all three phone numbers provided and have only gotten through, put on hold, and after 30 minutes or so of waiting on hold, got to speak with an agent. Result of discussion was that I had to wait for an email. That was two weeks ago. Anyway, my question is simply this, “What are you doing to get through the phone system?” Does the time of day or day of week matter in terms of your success? Thanks in advance. Good luck to everyone trying to navigate through this process.”
Social Media – Facebook &Twitter
Most state UI agencies are actually pretty active on social media in posting updates to share the latest information on unemployment payments and/or delays. You can see relevant social media handles on some of the individual state unemployment pages I have set up for specific contact information (see via the menu above) but most large unemployment agencies have Facebook, Reddit and Twitter accounts. I follow a number on Twitter and Facebook, so you can follow me to get curated updates. From the state UI agency social media pages you can even try sending direct/private messages to get answers to your questions and also see the hundreds of comments from people likely in a similar boat to you. Just don’t share any confidential or personal information.
Surprisingly a lot of readers have said emailing your state unemployment department or agency has worked more effectively than trying to get a live agent. In fact under federal guidelines for these programs, states must provide claimants with alternate modes of contact, which may include email, and communicate with the claimant
based on his or her preferred method of contact. If the state contacts the claimant via email and the email is returned, the state must attempt to contact the claimant by U.S. mail.
While the response time may not be amazing it is actually a good way to get some specific feedback on your case and delays in payments. Again you should go the actual state unemployment page and look under the contact us section to get the official email (which should be ending with a .gov). I’ll repeat it again, but don’t share your SSN or other private information over email or to callers whose identity is not verified, unless you have to.
Your Local, State or District representative
In cases where you cannot get through to someone or are just a completely frustrated with the answers you’ve been getting you should try contacting your local, state or district representative. Look online for your relevant representative and their contact details. They can often get you the answer or at least get you a better contact for someone at the state UI agency with whom you can speak too. You will have to show that you have tried to contact the state UI agency yourself, that your claim is valid and you meet all the eligibility criteria but this option has also been proven to work in some states where it has been nearly impossible to get through to someone at the state unemployment office.
Angelina from NJ commented, “My sister-in-law suggested that I call my local councilman’s office because they are assisting people who need to get through to unemployment. I called and they took down my information and had somebody call me from my local Senator’s office and the man said that they have an unemployment liaison at each Senator’s office that helps people resolve their unemployment issues so people who are having an extremely difficult time getting through they will hand your case over to their liaison and the liasion will contact Unemployment on your behalf and resolve your issue. My sister-in-law’s husband had been trying to get through for nearly eight weeks and he contacted his local councilman’s office and they told him within 15 days he should have a resolution and two weeks later he got all his money. I called the day before yesterday and I was told that the process could take 15 days to be patient but they are working on it and the man that I spoke to asked that I pass on this information to anyone struggling to get through to unemployment, he urges you all to contact your local Senator’s office or councilman’s office for assistance. Good luck to all I hope this helps & I will keep you all posted I am owed 8 weeks in back payments.
One thing you should definitely avoid is trying to use a third-party or online agency who will want to charge you to follow up on your claim. This is likely just going be a scam or waste of money, and will cost you probably more than you would get from unemployment.
If you have found any effective ways of getting in touch with someone in your state, please leave a comment (and your state) below.