WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - If you’re still waiting for unemployment benefits, you are the exception, not the rule. At least that’s the word from the state.
New York's Labor Department was again a topic at Governor Andrew Cuomo's daily briefing Monday.
For weeks, people have complained that they haven't been able to collect unemployment benefits through the state.
The state blamed the delays on a major backlog of cases at the labor department.
The problem prompted state Senator Patty Ritchie (R. - 48th District) to launch an online petition calling the Department of Labor a "disaster."
Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon held a news conference Monday afternoon and said the data on backlog cases is misleading and an inflated number because thousands of applications are partially filled-out or are duplicates and won't ever be paid.
But many have been paid. The commissioner says since the COVID-19 outbreak started, the state has paid out $9.2 billion in benefits.
Reardon says that's what the state usually pays out in 4 and a half years, not 2 and a half months.
“Remember that we did an enormous amount of work in this past week and I know that there are a lot of people who have been moved into the payable status since yesterday. So people may not realize that their claims have been processed and that their claims are payable,” said Reardon.
“That doesn’t mean everyone is cleared from the backlog. It’s the majority of the people cleared from the backlog. We’re getting very, very close, so for the people who are still outstanding, they are the exception, not the rule,” said Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa.
Meanwhile, Senator Ritchie’s office says the problem still exists, citing 200 phone calls and emails came into the Senator’s office Monday alone.