PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island began its two-week pause on Monday and new restrictions and closures went into effect, which could force some people to seek out-of-work benefits.
Unemployment insurance claims in the state have topped 633,000 since the start of the pandemic, the latest data shows.
Margaux Fontaine, a spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Labor and Training (DLT), said they won’t know until next week whether the statewide pause caused a spike in claims, but the agency did see an increase of more than 800 claims in the week leading up to it.
One 12 News viewer wrote into 12 Responds saying she lost her job because of the pandemic and was concerned about the process of applying for unemployment benefits.
“I am now told I have to email a photo of me holding my license and the email won’t go through,” she said.
Fontaine said you can’t apply for benefits by email, but the DLT may seek additional information via email, such as verification of your identity. She stressed to be careful and make sure the email address ends with ‘@dlt.ri.gov.’
If you find yourself recently unemployed, there are two ways to apply for benefits: visit the DLT’s website and fill out a form or contact the call center at (401) 415-6772.
DLT officials recommend applying online for a faster response.
Last week, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that people receiving unemployment benefits during the pause will get an extra $200 per week.
Fontaine said the DLT is on schedule to deliver those additional funds beginning next week.