People ask for more communication as unemployment claims remain unprocessed for weeks

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Things like paying for mortgage or daycare are on the top of many people’s minds as they go into another week without unemployment benefits, with no word on the status of their claims. NOW spoke to two people in the Savannah area who both say they’ve received very little communication from the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) since they filed their claims over a month ago.

Brian Amitrano of Wilmington Island says he finally got hired at Gulfstream in March after trying for three years to get a job there. Prior to Gulfstream, he worked at some resorts on Tybee Island and as an Uber driver.

By mid March, he was informed by his recruiter that all new hires would be suspended at the company and would have to reapply in the future because of the pandemic.

He applied for unemployment at the end of March and was told he didn’t qualify. Once he learned that, he filed for an appeal and says he hasn’t heard anything since.

In the meantime, he says it has been hard because he and his wife both are not bringing in the money they used to because of the pandemic.

“I have an attorney, so we’re actually working with the mortgage company and bought us some time between now and July,” said Amitrano.

His mortage isn’t the only bill he’s worried about – he has a car payment, every day expenses and has had to take his two dogs to the veterinarian in recent weeks.

“Every day life stuff just racks up a lot,” said Amitrano.

Sadly, he isn’t the only one experiencing problems getting in touch with someone at GDOL.

A single mother of three, who asked to remain anonymous, filed for unemployment back in April when she lost her job with a cleaning company because of COVID-19.

“You’re putting more stress on a family than really helping with not being able to communicate to the people that need help right now,” she said.

She had not heard anything from GDOL until NOW reached out to them on her behalf. Officials with GDOL say they are working to resolve the issues of her claim and get her the money she’s owed.

In a press conference last week, Commissioner Mark Butler said the claims process is meant to take time as a way to help prevent fraud.

“It’s not meant to be a fast process. It’s meant to be a careful, thoughtful process in which we have to follow a lot of rules and regulations that are set forth through federal and state laws,” said Butler.

Still, Department of Labor offices remain closed to the public because of the pandemic, leaving people like Amitrano and the single mother feeling helpless of where to go for answers.

“Communication is the big thing to it like everybody has to communicate around here or we’re all just going to be dead in the water,” she said.

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