In addition to the video above of a non-distanced, hellacious unemployment claims line in Little Rock yesterday, I’d like to share another tale of woe about attempting to claim unemployment benefits in Arkansas.

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My correspondent asked that her name not be used, for fear of angering someone in the state’s impenetrable bureaucracy. Workforce Services won’t talk about individual cases. So I can’t swear to its accuracy. But there are too many stories like this, as the lawsuit filed yesterday by Legal Aid of Arkansas said.

Here’s one woman’s story, unedited except to remove some identifying elements:

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I thought I’d tell you the god awful rigamarole the State has put me through trying to get my pandemic unemployment claim unlocked so I could file my weekly claims since the end of December! I have been unable to claim any weeks because the state has my claim locked and wanted my identity verified. I have verified my identity and done this 3 times! Still my claim remains locked! In January the AR Dept of Workforce sent an email containing a link that I was to use to email a copy of my state ID -in my case my AR drivers license. I emailed a scanned copy of my DL immediately. No response. My PUA claim remained locked. Then I called their 2 phone numbers for days on end- mailboxes are nearly always full. I was able to leave two messages asking them to phone me back in past four weeks. I did miss two return calls from ADWS and since then I haven’t received another call in response to my message asking them to phone again. Now, ADWS recordings on phone tells claimants to email, I received a response to the email I sent them at the email address they furnished; their reply ; call the phone numbers OR go to your local office to verify your identity! This is madness!! On Feb 4, 2021 I took a copy of my AR drivers license to the local office and Placed it in a box I was instructed to place it in. Later that day a woman called me from Dept. Of Workforce telling me I had to come in person and let them see my face/verify my identity. I went to thelocal office again, asked for the person, per our phone conversation. She looked at me through a hole in the plastic partition and told me to pull my mask down so she could see my face, (in a pandemic! She looked at my face and my drivers license picture and stated “you’re good!”. I thanked her and left. My claim is still locked and I still cannot file my weekly claims from 12-27-20 through 2-26-21! I’ve called both phone numbers numerous times weekly, the recording states all are busy and to call back or to email them at same email address to verify my identity which I’ve done 3 times already and gone to the office in person!! After calling again this morning and being on hold for 1.5 hours a lady answered and told me my claim was locked because the office had not sent them the okay/documents to unlock my claim and I had to either call the local office (number is busy, no human answers, mailbox full, recording says email them which I have several times ) OR to return in person AGAIN to verify my identity.

The bottom line is, when claimant (me) calls the 501-682 number the recording tells claimants to email to verify identity, when I emailed at email address they furnish their email response was “go to your local office or send your ID in via the link (which is now expired and ADWS states they cannot resend but Commerce czar states they will send you a link on 7 on your side- they will not) or go to a local office and verify your ID in person. Which I have done all the above and STILL cannot get my claim unlocked to claim my weeks. This is beyond unacceptable. People are being given the runaround of their lifetime and can’t get their pandemic unemployment that they are eligible for.

I plan to continue to attempt to get my ID verified yet again and my pandemic unemployment claim unlocked but the Pandemic unemployment ends mid March. Time is of the essence and they know it. It’s beyond a frustrating nightmare! I drove to local office at 9:45 this morning just to see how long the line was, it was the length of the strip mall!!

If I am having these kinds of problems then other claimants are as well. It makes one wonder… Why are claimants being given this terrible runaround? What’s going on at arkansas Department of Workforce Services regarding the pandemic unemployment and why are they making it so difficult to file weekly claims? It’s worth noting that if a claimant doesn’t file the weekly claims, then claimants can’t receive the benefits (monies).

You have to wonder why legislators with time to go to news conferences about the non-existent issue of transgender women playing sports aren’t raising hell on behalf of identifiable constituents who ARE facing real hardships because of the failure of state government. How about an “even playing field” for these poor souls, so horribly served by an agency headed by a man bonused five years running for his exemplary performance by Governor Hutchinson.