Louisiana residents still struggling to get unemployment benefits

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Louisiana Workforce Commission responds to specific questions

NEW ORLEANS (WDSU) — Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic and many people living in the New Orleans area tell WDSU they are still struggling to secure unemployment benefits.

Ronnie Davis, of New Orleans, told WDSU that he first filed for unemployment in March and recently refiled in November. But he claims, his most recent deposits have been for $0.

“(It’s) very, very, very frustrating,” said Davis. “It’s taking a toll on me, you know? I’m kind of losing hope.”

Davis, a father of six, said he just lost his apartment and had to move back in with his mother.

“I’ve never been out of work this long,” said Davis. “I’m a cook, so it’s very rough.”

Ava Dejoie, secretary for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said in many cases, the person has run out of eligibility for one type of claim and must apply for another type.

“You no longer have the 26 weeks that are allotted to you via your state claim. You’ve exhausted it, but via the CARES Act, you have an additional source of unemployment at least through the end of the year,” said Dejoie.

In Pearl River, Kaycie Woitha told WDSU that she has been out of work since the pandemic started because she works in the service industry.

Woitha claims when she tried to reapply for benefits in November, she was asked to provide information to verify her identity. She said she did but is still waiting for her money to be deposited.

Dejoie said many applicants have been asked similar questions after a large number of fraudulent claims were recently discovered.

“We are in the position of asking deserving citizens for more information to verify that they are not the victim of identity theft or claim because it’s not as simple as us just paying the claim,” said Dejoie. “That individual is going to get a 1099 at the end of the year for any benefits we gave.”

Dejoie asked people to be patient as the LWC works through that process. She said the need for help is great.

Since March 26, the agency has paid out $6.8 billion to almost 700,000 applicants compared to $153 million to 100,000 applicants for all of 2019.

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