PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Nearly a quarter-million people in Rhode Island have applied for unemployment benefits to date.
Through our 12 Responds initiative, Target 12 has heard from many of you who are frustrated with the R.I. Department of Labor and Training (DLT).
“Why doesn’t anyone at DLT call back or answer the phones…I have been calling and emailing and I have not received 1 payment,” one person wrote to us recently.
DLT Director Scott Jensen said he understands your frustration as his team works through a record number of claims.
A federal fraud investigation bogged the agency down, according to Jensen.
“We’ve had to freeze a lot of claims, which then requires that those folks call and verify who they are, which is not helping our capacity in the call center at all,” he said.
He encouraged people who haven’t been able to get through to keep trying, adding that the DLT has tripled the size of its capacity to take calls.
In addition, he said there’s a group of 30 workers making calls, leading us to ask why the DLT hasn’t increased the size of that group to reach out to more people.
“Because we still need the other group of employees to actually process claims,” he responded. “We could hire 3,000 people in the call center and we would still be having some challenges in getting the kind of customer service that I know people should and are entitled to.”
Jensen said about 70% of claims go straight through once the DLT verifies the information, while other claims require more work.
Visit the DLT’s website to learn more.