HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Delays continue at the Virginia Employment Commission, this time for claimants denied benefits who are appealing their case.
In Virginia, it takes hundreds of days on average to get your appeal heard when the US Department of Labor (DOL) says it shouldn't take more than 30.
A Henrico woman says she can tell you just how long it takes in the Commonwealth.
“Every time I call now they just can't tell me anything,” said Elyse Wilson, who, like many others we’ve spoken to, is having trouble getting through to the VEC.
18 months ago the then-unemployed tech worker applied for benefits.
After a six-month wait, the VEC denied her claim.
So Wilson appealed.
Nine months after that, she finally got a hearing this past March.
But her wait continued into this week because no one at the VEC had been able to tell her what the verdict was.
"When I spoke to the person that was doing the adjudication, it was it was lovely,” said Wilson. “It went the way it should have, and I expected to hear something relatively quickly, maybe that day or the next couple of days. Then it turned into me calling every day for a couple of weeks, and then maybe once a week and I kept getting the same thing: "Our systems are being upgraded.""
Wilson is hardly alone: as of May, some 56,000 Virginians were part of a backlog of claimants appealing the VEC's denial of benefits.
That backlog is why for the first quarter of 2022, Virginia was ranked by the DOL just about last in how long it takes to hear an appeal: 310 days, or more than ten months on average, ahead of only Alabama.
Virginia also ranks at the bottom in getting that first unemployment check out to claimants.
The DOL says getting 87% of those payments out within 21 days is acceptable. Virginia on average, gets only about 20 percent out in that time frame, ahead of only the Virgin Islands.
"You expect to hear back pretty quickly, but obviously with the pandemic, it was okay be more patient,” said Wilson. “So I was more patient, and then I had to be even more patient.”
But as for the long wait since her appeals hearing, and the now year-and-a-half since her initial claim, Wilson says even the pandemic can't justify that. She has a message for VEC Commissioner Carrie Roth.
“I would like to tell her personally that a lot of people are suffering,” Wilson said. “I would like to ask why, and get to the root cause and ask if they have any measures in place that are actually being put in place. Because everything I’ve seen them change to date, really hasn't changed much."
After I contacted the VEC this week about Wilson’s case, they got in touch with her, and after several days were able to tell her how her appeal turned out.
She lost that first appeal and said Friday that she filed a second appeal through her lawyer.
We also had hoped to speak with VEC Commissioner Carrie Roth this week about the appeals' delays and Virginia’s abysmal ranking by the Department of Labor.
Late the night before our scheduled interview, her spokesperson postponed our meeting until next week.
We hope to bring you her thoughts then.
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