HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Connecticut’s latest job report shows the state’s unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, but it may not be accurate.

The Department of Labor says there were problems with responses and the number is about 17.5 percent.

Meanwhile, those close to running out of benefits are now eligible for an extension.

Starting on Friday, those who are getting unemployment can apply for 13 more weeks of emergency benefits.

In the meantime, the Department of Labor says it’s working harder to process claims, but some feel they’re falling through the cracks.

Connecticut’s workforce has been devastated. The hardest hit industries have been restaurants and retail.

More than a half a million unemployment applications have been processed since March 14, which is four years’ worth of claims.

The concern is now helping those whose benefits are running out.

“Letters will be going out tomorrow to 71,000 potential claimants and on the letters, there will be instructions on what to do,” said Department of Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby.

Those eligible will get an additional 13 weeks, but there are some who are still struggling to get the first round of benefits.

“To ensure all residents eligible for the extension apply for these federal benefits, an estimated 65,000 Individuals with a benefit year that ended between July 1, 2019 and the present will be sent instructional letters. These individuals have not filed for benefits during the current benefit year and in many cases may be working. An additional 12,000 letters will be sent to claimants who recently exhausted regular state benefits and have filed in the current year. Approximately 500 letters will also be issued on a weekly basis as other claimants exhaust state unemployment benefits,” the DOL said.

To meet federal integrity standards which requires that eligible claimants exhaust any state benefits before qualifying for an extension, the 65,000 individuals will be instructed to follow these steps:

• Use the blue button at www.filectui.com to file a new claim application so the agency can determine if there is eligibility for state benefits.

• After successfully completing a new claim application, individuals receive a confirmation email from the agency and aMonetary Determination of Unemployment Compensation Benefits (Form UC-58) in the mail.

• If the UC-58 indicates a person does not have a weekly benefit rate, they are monetarily ineligible to apply for state unemployment benefits. They will use the green button at www.filectui.com to access the PEUC site and file a claim application. If eligibility criteria are met, claimants will be entitled to collect up to 13 weeks of extended benefits.

• If the UC-58 indicates a person has a weekly benefit rate, they are monetarily eligible to apply for state benefits. They must first exhaust all entitlement to regular unemployment benefits from Connecticut or any other state before they can file an application for the PEUC extended benefits.

The 12,000 individuals who recently exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits will receive letters instructing them to file for PEUC benefits. This can be done by using the green button on www.filectui.com and accessing the PEUC application site. If eligibility criteria are met, claimants will be entitled to collect up to 13 weeks of extended benefits. This same letter will be provided to an estimated 500 individuals each week as they exhaust their 26 weeks of state benefits.

Many continue to feel the effects of being out of work.

Jeremy Wohlford was laid off while working corporate travel for a large company.

“I finally got the email saying my claim was processed,” Wohlford said.

He’s been waiting seven weeks for unemployment. The problem seems to be that he was doing another job for the company in New York and Connecticut is gathering information on wages from that state.

“Sometimes, it’s a matter of where did they start and then where did they have the majority of their wages,” said Deputy Commissioner Dante Bartolomeo.

The DOL says it can take a month or more and that’s difficult for a lot of people.

“Savings account is empty. I have cashed in my change jar, which I’ve been saving a couple years. I’ve done everything at this point, but borrow from my friends,” Wohlford said.

Progress has been made on handling claims. It started with six weeks and now it’s down to between one and two weeks.

The DOL says the additional 13 weeks will be in effect through December this year and will include the $600 federal stimulus.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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