by: Bailey Strohl, Ozarks First
Missouri Job Center says they have a backlog of over 8,000 emails regarding unemployment benefits.
At the virtual Q&A the job center hosted, a lot of the questions were centered around if individuals are eligible for unemployment and when they can expect to get benefits.
For those needing help, the job center says they should go online and file a claim before asking other questions.
“We are recommending honestly if you have any question whatsoever, go ahead and apply and file for it,” said Sally Payne, assistant director of Springfield’s Department of Workforce Development.
For self-employed and gig workers who don’t typically qualify, you need to apply and get denied for average unemployment first.
Being denied makes you eligible to receive benefits through the Pandemic Public Assistance Program.
Because the unemployment office is so overwhelmed with claims, here are some helpful tips:
- Try filing during off-peak times, so the system doesn’t shut down.
- If you are unemployed because of COVID-19, make sure to choose that option when filing to avoid waiting.
- If you must call, expect to be on hold for about 45 minutes.
Matt Morrow, with the Chamber of Commerce, says if local businesses can hold on for a little longer, it will hopefully pay off.
“A lot of questions about essential business,” said Morrow. “What parts of my business can I keep doing, can I keep operating at all, and for how long will we be in that situation, and many of those are still open questions, but if we can stick to it, there’s a lot of belief that if we will be able to come out of this sooner than some other areas that other parts of the country are able to come out of it. Maybe get to something resembling normal soon.”
The job center suggests if you want to apply, go through your bank or institutions you already know to avoid getting scammed.