Labor Phone Lines Overloaded with Calls

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2020
Information Contact: Georgia Smith, (208) 332-3570 ext. 2102

People are asked to visit Labor website for answers; file for benefits online

Idaho is one of several states across the nation where the surge of newly laid-off workers is overwhelming state unemployment phone systems. 

Laid-off workers who need to file for benefits – or have questions about unemployment insurance – should file online or visit the agency website instead of calling the department. 

“You do not have to call the department to file a claim. Everything can be done online and most questions can be answered by reviewing the posted material,” said Idaho Department of Labor director Jani Revier. “Our call volume is high and most callers are receiving a busy signal and will not get through.”

Jammed phone lines also prevent the department’s claim specialists from calling out to resolve issues with individual claims. When the department notifies a claimant there is an issue with their claim, the individual needs to wait for an agency claims specialist to call. 

Answers to questions about unemployment insurance and COVID-19 are in the FAQ section of the labor website at www.labor.idaho.gov. To make it easier, questions are divided into two categories: regular questions about unemployment insurance and specific questions about COVID-19. 

On Friday, federal lawmakers agreed to a significant expansion of the nation’s unemployment insurance program, however, according to Revier, it will take time to implement the CAREs Act programs at the state level.

“Help is on the way, and we are working to implement the changes as soon as possible,” said Revier. “People need to be patient as we work through the details with our federal partner.”

In the meantime, laid-off workers should go ahead and apply for benefits, even if they are not sure they qualify.

People filing for benefits need to watch the videos, read the frequently asked questions and read the user guides on the Claimant Portal web page before they file online at labor.idaho.gov/ClaimantPortal.

The department will notify the public about general program changes via email, social media, messages on its website and regular updates to the FAQs. 

Many essential businesses including grocery stores and assisted living facilities have urgent need for workers. To look for work, visit idahoworks.gov.

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36 thoughts on “Labor Phone Lines Overloaded with Calls

  1. kristen johansen

    how will i know when the new applications for unemployment insurance for self employed persons be available with all the information that i need to provide. is there a link to the new programs available to self employed persons ?

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      The CARES Act expanded the unemployment insurance program to include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This program allows payment for individuals who are not eligible for regular benefits, particularly self-employed individuals. We are working with the U.S. Department of Labor on further details so we can implement these changes, which could take several weeks. Please apply for benefits online at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal and continue to submit your weekly certifications. Enter your work history on the online application as self-employment. We will inform you of any changes that will potentially affect your unemployment benefit claim.

    2. Miaty

      I have a reemployment appointment and can’t get through because of your phones being busy. What am I supposed to do?

      1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

        There are no reemployment appointments scheduled currently and this will not affect your eligibility.

  2. Nick

    Been waiting two weeks now, still saying stop payment issues need resolved. Still waiting on something, any news. My family sure could use the help.

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      Our claims specialists are calling people with pending issues as quickly as they can. For short-term help, please check out LiveBetterIdaho.org for additional resources.

  3. Jimmy Jorgensen

    Small business owner,just started January 1,2020 need to apply for benefits

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      We are working with the U.S. Department of Labor on further details so we can implement these changes, which could take several weeks. Please apply for benefits online at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal and continue to submit your weekly certifications. Enter your work history on the online application as self-employment. We will inform you of any changes that will potentially affect your unemployment benefit claim.

  4. Allison Smith

    I was self employed for the last 2 years. In Feb 2020 I got a new job at a restaurant, I worked until they had to close in March because of COV19. I will be returning to work when they open again. I applied for temporary unemployment and it said I did not qualify for any amount. I earned $845.80 the first month of employment there. Do I qualify for ?????

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      We can’t answer specific claims questions but the CARES Act does include help for self-employed people. We are working with the U.S. Department of Labor on further details so we can implement these changes, which could take several weeks. Please apply for benefits online at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal and continue to submit your weekly certifications. Enter your work history on the online application as self-employment. We will inform you of any changes that will potentially affect your unemployment benefit claim.

  5. Dennis Miller

    I am unable to login to the portal due to excessive attempts, cannot get a hold of anyone to corrrect this……

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      Please be patient as our claim specialists try to answer calls from everyone with questions.

      1. Patricia

        This was my third week filing with a pending issue I know a lot everybody else is waiting and is in the same situation but I’m hoping you can give me an estimate on when you’re going to call I really need to pay bills and put food on the table I’m scared I was forgotten about or I missed your phone call and I’m sure if you’re going to leave a message when you call??

      2. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

        We are using the time between 4-6 p.m. daily to contact claimants and clear issues on claims. It may take several days due to the number of calls staff have to place. For short-term assistance, we have compiled a list of organizations on this webpage: https://www.labor.idaho.gov/dnn/COVID-19. Hopefully, that will help.

      3. Patricia Pollard

        Im really starting to worry!? I have been filing my weekly claim for 3weeks now almost 4 wks with a pending issue. I havent received a call yet!? I know you guys are busy and backed up and i thank you for all that your doing just kinda hoping theres light at the end of the tunnel!? Going on almost a month and everyone else from my job has gontyen their unemployment including the ones with pending issues!? i know im not the only one stuggling right mow but almost a month is quite a while.
        hoping i wasnt forgot or lost in paperwork. Can you give a estimate on how much longer the wait is?

        Thank you for your time

      4. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

        We do not have a time estimate, but using the time from 4-6 p.m. daily to process claims is expected free up time for staff to return phone calls, resolve issues preventing payment and process claims more quickly.

  6. Savannah Bloxham

    I believe there is a hold on my unemployment benefits due to an overpayment due from 2012. I did however receive benefits in 2018 so I’m confused on what is putting these benefits into a pending status. Can you please review my account and let me know how to fix any issues I may have created?

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      A claims specialist will contact you with for questions about pending issues.

  7. Kenneth R Holm

    I live out of state and am trying to sign up for unemployment, I have completed everything but it will not let me finalize. It says I need a Idaho drivers license which I do not have. My main residents is in Michigan. What do I need to do to complete the application.

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      This FAQ may answer your question: Can I apply for benefits if I do not have an Idaho driver’s license?
      Yes. If you file online and have an out-of-state driver’s license or identification card, your online profile information will remain unverified, but please continue with the online application.

  8. Andy Hollister

    I understand the phone lines are jammed up. Never the less, I sat on hold for over an hour waiting to ask a question regarding my status, which I was perfectly fine with. After over an hour waiting from 1:30-2:30 I got an automated response telling me my connection was being terminated and to call back later. I needed to file a new claim and the system didn’t allow this as my old claim hadn’t been exhausted. I became self employed as a sales representative after the first part of the year and now obviously can’t travel to sell goods to people. I just need some clarification as to where I stand as most of the orders I have in system with the companies I work with have either been cancelled or put on hold for the foreseeable future.

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      Self-employment is covered in the CARES Act. We are working with the U.S. Department of Labor on further details so we can implement these changes, which could take several weeks. Please apply for benefits online at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal and continue to submit your weekly certifications. Enter your work history on the online application as self-employment. We will inform you of any changes that will potentially affect your unemployment benefit claim.

  9. Denise Chapple

    Hi, my work history section says incomplete and I’m not sure why. It looks like everything went through but I’m not sure. Also I applied for unemployment on 3/16 and I was wondering when I can expect the first paycheck

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      If there is nothing preventing payment, payment will happen in about a week after filing. If there is an issue preventing payment, claims are worked in the order filed. Unfortunately, right now, due to extremely high claims volume, there will be a delay.

  10. Sky Attebery

    I literally cannot get into contact with anyone, I wake up at 8 a.m and get busy lines all day and chats say no one is available. Its been 4 says now and It’s worrying.

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      We have recently changed the system so you can file on your tablet or cell phone and you do not need to talk to a claim specialist to file. We appreciate your patience as we try to help everyone.

  11. Christian Harris

    Push to text link? My weekly claim has a pending issue. I know the reason is COVID-19 related and I have a call back letter. Phone is busy with people calling in.

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      A claims representative will contact you by phone or email for additional information. It is not necessary for you to call or initiate a click to chat session with us to have the issue resolved. Continue to file your weekly certifications.

      1. Bill Miles

        The problem is that the representatives are not calling. Some people have been waiting more than 2 weeks.

      2. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

        Our unemployment insurance staff is calling people back as quickly as they can.

      3. Jennifer Pfeufer

        I need to find out why my payment hasn’t been paid. We are living in a van. Help please

  12. David Ross Smallwood

    I have been laid off for two week for the virus. I have tried to sign up for unemployment but it frizzes up when I try to finish.

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      If you were using Internet Explorer, that may be the issue. As of last week, you can now file your claim via your phone or tablet.

  13. Benjamin Gonzales

    I made a mistake on my certification and cant fix it or get through on the phone. Help

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      A claim specialist will have to help you with this issue. We ask for your patience as we help everyone with questions on their claims.

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