Public Comments for 06/07/2023 Unemployment Insurance Subcommittee
Last Name: rouse Locality: Henrico

Part 2: I applied for unemployment. Took them 42 days approx to authorize my claim. I was laid off. I had to call to get it expedited. It was noted that a payment was made when I was finally able to get into the online system on the 15th. Never made it to my bank. Called 5 days later, my bank had not been contacted. I contacted my bank to confirm. I got notice of a bank rejection at 7:49p Friday night. I cannot update my information via the website since there is no such access, let alone verify. I was able to get what they had for a routing number but not the account info via their phone system. So, when I got the email. I attempted to access that system via the phone menu. Not allowed except for during business hours. I called today to speak to a human after now being able to re-enter my banking information. They called me back, then proceeded to ask if I had done any work this week. They could only pass my information on, i.e. the fact I had updated my information as to my bank account. They did not know the schedule when they would attempt to establish a direct deposit transfer. So, same old, same old. Delay tactics, time trying to get a hold of someone to find out what was going on. I feel sorry for those that take these phone calls. They have no information. You are at the will and the whim of whomever is in charge. This system is a train wreck!

Last Name: Stargardt Locality: Dinwiddie

Last summer (2022), when I received a mailbox full of communications from the VEC, I immediately called the fraud department. I explained that I had not opened the claim. I was later laid off on Jan. 26 2023. I could not open my claim because of the previous fraudulent claim. It is now May 22, 2023, I'm still unable to receive my benefits, or get any answers on the status of my claim.

Last Name: Sharpe Locality: Norfolk

Hello. I left a thorough summary of my claim when this first aired. I just wanted to know if there's any person(s) on this committee that can point me in the right direction of finding an attorney that represents clients against VEC? I am no longer interested in contacting VEC 3 yrs later for something they clearly don't plan on correcting and releasing. I'm now ready to take it to the next level. Thank you

Last Name: Brosius Locality: Alberta

In the beginning the cart was put before the horse. I heard, that in the beginning it was all about "get the money out as quickly" to everyone and worry about the other issues later. If the VEC in the beginning had taken claims as normal and scheduled claimants who were not laid off (and had to go thru the regular process) I believe that there would not have been the extent of fraudulent activity and monies that were paid automatically would never have gone out to individuals who were not eligible to receive them. If, in the beginning all claimants had to establish their identity before their claim could be processed there would not have been so much identity theft and the individuals whose benefits were held up because someone committed identity theft would have been able to receive the benefits unless there was another reason on their claim. Claimants did not understand how they could receive monies and then months later were told that their discharge/quit/medical issue had to be addressed to see if they should have initially received their benefits and then if they should not have they would have to repay all monies back. Such a large portion of claimants were brand new to the system and even those who had filed previously and had to go thru the hearing process and or appeal process suddenly were receiving benefits without any questions. I also feel the contracted parties our agency had to assist did not really know how our agency operated and gave out false information to so many claimants. So often the contracted individuals told claimants to call the local office and yet we were not able to assist due to restrictions to access information. All information about who was doing what, was not shared with all staff handling unemployment within our agency (especially regarding the contractors). Also there were numerous local offices that put a voice message on their phones and we (our office) was one that did answer our phones in person most of the times. It was unreal as to the # of callers we were trying to assist from everywhere. I also believe that the more seasoned staff in the local offices should have been given access to information that was needed to assist customer instead of having to tell everyone to call the toll-free # where they could hardly ever get through to speak with anyone. Seasoned staff should have been given responsibilities in their areas of expertise. Seasoned staff were restricted in calling central office staff and/or other staff that we knew could assist us. As a 56 year employee of the Commonwealth of Virginia I have always worked in a helping position. However in the past several years as more and more access was taken away from the staff I felt no longer like I could help our customers effectively. We, as a state agency should be able to provide Quality Customer Service but that is so hard when the tools needed to do our job are either taken away and/or not given to us to use. When we were given what I call "busy work" then it was time for me to retire. I had given 55 years to the VEC and for the most part had enjoyed most of it. But "busy work" is not my area of expertise; helping and assisting always has been. It seemed to have become all about the numbers "quantity" instead of about 'QUALITY". I am fully aware that numbers are important but also believe that if quality work is performed the numbers normally follow. I finally retired but still feel for claimants.

Last Name: Tracy Lee Hundley Locality: Richmond

I have been with VEC since Gov Wilder’s admin. I have many observations to share after seeing many attempts to improve services. 1. Too many processes are still being done manually - even after automated options are available. 2. Too often staff are unable to adapt to new ways of working, the layoffs were necessary but we have lost some good people. 3. It is too hard to get an improvement from “design to go live”. Improved ESS has been delayed multiple times. 4. Funding/staffing levels should be increased beyond federal provision in recognition that VEC is attempting to serve employers, not just claimants. 5. Backlog in handling employer’s accounts impacts claims handling (due to lack of staffing for the most part but also stupid technical limitations that are ridiculous - for example: the phones drop calls & fail to forward…it’s not an actual system at all. I can be found if you have any questions. We have some really dedicated people working very hard but we need more full time positions. My office was once twelve people & now we are three.

Last Name: Davis Locality: Virginia Beach

I first filed for unemployment in March of 2022, I was denied because they said my employer said I left on my own even though I had all my separation documents and proof of severance that I received up until I filed for unemployment. I was never able to set up my online account after calling at least 10 times so I always received my notices by mail after the due dates. So fast forward to now and I still don’t have an appeal date. So I went 3 months with no income after working for 15 years straight! Luckily I found a job in June but I’m still recovering from having no income for 3 months and still waiting on an appeal 15 months later.

Last Name: rouse Locality: Henrico

I applied for unemployment. I applied via phone since I could not log on. Could not log on with my previous account, was told to wait for the pin. Did that, still could not log on and was told there was a problem with my account. After trying to reset my password on the site, I realized I had 2 accounts. I attempted to change my password, my secret answer did not work. For both accounts it accepted my SSN and birthdate but not the secret answers. I waited for the pin. once received I used the phone system to do my weekly reporting Since my online account was still broke. I decided to test the system again a week ago. Both accounts no longer existed so, I created a new one. I can get in to the system but cannot do anything. The 21 day turnaround got exceeded. I called, it got expedited. It was accepted. I received an email stating payment had been make. This was a retroactive payment. It had not hit my bank after 5 days. There was no notification in my bank that a test deposit had been made. I called. I had verified the routing number via the phone system. The agent I spoke with asked if I wanted this investigated, YES! I was told it normally takes up to 96 hours for the deposit to show up. It had been 120 hours. I emailed my bank, they have received nothing as to a transfer request. At 7:49pm Friday, I received an email saying my bank "Rejected Bank Account Notification" that it is. Now, I do not have an open claim? I get an email to request I create an online account, I have already. It has only been 6 weeks since I applied. i had an unemployment claim almost 2 years ago, that was a fiasco. It started before they got enough people to answer the phones. Now due to their not normalizing the database correctly my new account is probably in jeopardy. Something is not tied together here and I can't address it until Monday because the system will not allow me to put in my banking information.

Last Name: fetty Locality: MIDLOTHIAN

On April 27, 2023 I had my appeal hearing with an examiner. I recently received notice that the examiner denied my claim for unemplyment due to the appeal not being filed on time. Below is a summary of my two years working to receive the benefits that I am rightfully entitled to. - Initial claim filed 5/7/21 - My claim was initially denied as there was no record of income for me in 2020. Upon speaking with the VEC, I was informed that someone using my social security number filed a claim 3 months prior to my filing, which caused my claims to continually be denied. - I was requested to send in documentation to verify that I am in fact John Christopher Fetty. I submitted all of the necessary paperwork 5/28/21 - I spent nearly a year going back and forth with the VEC to trying to get my identity confirmed and be able to refile. July 2, 2022 I got my delegate involved who escaleted the matter. It spent months in escalation, to no avail. Once again I got my delegate involved and finally got it through escalation to appeals. - I received two letters on the same day. One stated that I was required to file information in 21 days. The second letter stated that I had been confirmed for benefits. Upon contacting the VEC to determine which of the instructions to follow, the VEC rep said for me to ignore the one letter requesting an appeal and that the second letter approving benefits was correct. She then advised me to got back into the portal and refile my weekly benefits from 5/7/21 to 7/19/21. She also told me that the remaining benefits owed to me would be $6,780. - Upon trying to go through the portal to apply for back weekly unemployment I was continually locked out. I spent several weeks trying to work with tech support to resolve the issue. I was told to contact the appeals line once again. Upon contacting the appeals line they informed that I did need to supply the information. By that point I missed the deadline, for which my appeal was denied. Let me restate, the only reason I missed the deadline was because of the information I received from the VEC. You can pull all of the phone records related to my claim and see the extensive number of calls made, the call from the Governor's office, and the multiple calls from my delegate to get my claim resolved. If I put that much effort in to get my claim resolved, appealing multiple times, and getting the appeal on the docket; then why would I not fill the simple paperwork. The reason is simple, I was provided incorrect information from the VEC. I have spent more than two years trying to get the funds that I was rightfully owed. I was not the person that wrongfully used my social to apply for benefits, which caused all of this to unfold. I followed all procedures and requirements asked of me by the VEC. I am only asking that I be awarded the proper amount for the 11 weeks I was unemployed. I was awarded 1 week of the 11, which would seem to confirm that in fact I was due unemployment, but I was told that it could not be backdated without the appeal going through. I pay my taxes and have been for 30 years. I have only applied for unemployment during the time I was in fact unemployed while actively looking for a job. I am pleading with the VEC to approve and provide the remaining funds of my claim, so that I can pay off the debit I incurred while unemployed.

Last Name: Bailey Organization: Elite Auto Body Locality: Hampton

We are an employer in the State of Virginia. We received a blanket statement stating that future communication with the VEC would be through an online system. The information to access the new system was unclear; we had no way to communicate with VEC customer support. Phone calls are answered by recording and then hung up. Through outside advice, we were advised to submit UI SIDES application which was completed on 3-6-2023. We reached out multiple times since and still do not have a access to the system. Attached emails are evidence of no adequate response.

Last Name: Baldwin Locality: Richlands

Fraud on my account. I filed my claim for the week of 8/15/21 thru 8/21/21. I should have received my payment on 8/25/2021. I did an on line chat with a gentleman named Hunter who informed me I had been hacked. I also contacted my unemployment office by email who said they would work on my claim. As of today I've been told its on the deputy's desk for review. I also tried to file my last week claim for 8/29/2021 thru 9/4/2021 per Governor Northern and was told I didn't have anymore weeks. All my correspondence are supposed to be on the deputy's desk waiting for review.

Last Name: Kenslow Organization: Waves Psychotherapy Services Locality: Virginia Beach

My corporation was "audited" with malintent to find us guilty of misclassifying employees as independent contractors. We have mostly employees with two independent contractors that clearly met the criteria put forth by the VEC. After many hours of back and forth and $1200.00 paid in legal fees on our end we were still "found guilty" Our back taxes "owed" were $66. I would like the public to know that this is how their tax money is being spent. I understand the need to audit corporations that are clearly fraudulent in their attempts to evade federal or employee taxes. We are a small, women owned business that provides out patient counseling services. As with all mental health service facilities we have struggled with keeping up with the demand to do so particularly since the start of COvid. Our attorney told us that the VEC had been targeting mental health private practices. I have also spoken with Barry Knight regarding this issue and worked with his staff throughout the ordeal so they are aware. The VEC needs to focus on their job; it is ridiculous that they wield their power in attempts to punish small corporations instead of supporting them. They also need to come up with CLEAR, CONCISE guidelines for corporations; not ones that are subjective just to promote anxiety and uncertainty. I would be happy to provide further clarification on this matter if needed. My email is

Last Name: Lanclos Locality: CHESAPEAKE

I have been waiting 2.5 years for my unemployment payments. I call at least twice a month and always get the runaround and conflicting updates on the status of the back pay due me. I have contact our past as well as present governor and got no response or resolve. On 5/18/2023, I was told by a representative that my account was on “administrative hold” . I contacted legal aid 5 times and received no response after leaving numerous messages. I can not afford an attorney. So, who fights for me, my rights?

Last Name: Norman Locality: Chesapeake

The process for getting unemployment was horrible. The first step was to go online to fill out the application answering confusing questions. Step two filling out the confusing application online weekly or calling in weekly. After those two steps never received a confirmation letter. Then try calling early Monday thru Saturday to talk to a representative which took weeks finally reaching someone that told me my information was not in the system. I started the calling process again taken a few more days for that representative to tell me I was in the system and the claims I filed each week were in the system. Then I had to fill out and send proof of my identity. I started the process in April finally getting my first payment in December 2020. I thought everything was finally straight. It was so stressful I stopped filing. That was a brief example of the challenging situation I experienced trying to get unemployment.

Last Name: Reed Locality: Newport-News

I had trouble with the website and the telephone claim line. I was denied 3 weeks due to issues in filing. Am still waiting on my appeal hearing and June 2023 it will be a yr. I get no correspondence other than waiting for an examiner to be assigned. No one I talk to to has any answers

Last Name: Hutchinson Locality: Richmond

Beginning of January 2022 was when I applied for Unemployment, as of today 5/18/2023 I still have not received a resolution. My Delegate's office at the time was great with trying to help me navigate the system. The system was down for over two months. I was locked out of my online account for reasons no one could give me. And when filing by telephone, after completing the weekly reporting and waiting for confirmation of processing, the system would tell me there was an error in processing my claim and to try again later. This went on for 3 months, multiple tries per day and multiple calls to customer service weekly. My claim was denied and finally a cust svc rep said it was bc the system thought I never responded or filed weekly claims. My Delegate's office helped me to get in contact with the resolution dept who told me to file an appeal and ask for a backdated window to be opened so I could file the 3 months of claims. My claim was reopened but not backdated to the weeks I was unemployed (Jan-Mar 2022). I could file current weeks, which would have been fraud since I was working at the time. The result of the appeal has never been relayed to me if it was ever even resolved. For 3 months, I was without income which caused significant financial hardship all bc VEC's system was having technical issues. To this day, I am owed 3 months of unemployment that I am sure I will never see and I am still owed answers as to why my online account is locked. Before Jan 2022, it had been over 20 years since the last time I needed to file an unemployment claim. There is no excuse for what Virginia did to me and countless others. It was wrong and caused a lot of unnecessary financial hardships for me and my family. I truly hope this system can get fixed so no one elese has to go through what I went through.

Last Name: Loving Locality: Chesterfield

My last day of employment was March 30, 2023. Today is May 18, 2023. I have not received a payment. I have filled out numerous forms and returned them. I have spoken to VEC staff. Last week I was told that they didn’t see anything holding up my claim and they would adjudicate it. Their word. Today I was told that it had not been assigned to a deputy yet and there were “lots of people ahead of me.”, If there are so many people in line that they can’t get to me for 6 weeks then why are they cutting staff? I am looking for employment and filing my weekly claim as instructed. I have almost run through my savings and am having to borrow from friends and family for basic needs.

Last Name: Mitchell Locality: Norfolk

When Covid hit and jobs started closing, the company that I was working for shut us down. I applied for unemployment and was denied. I appealed it and was denied. Why was I denied my benefits you may ask? Because the people from VEC was going to the company prior to the company that laid me off. I explained this and asked why were they talking to this company. I even defended the company saying that they weren't the last company that I worked for. All of this was during the time when the PUA was in affect plus your regular benefits. I was honestly looking forward to those benefits to provide for my family. We had to go without simple things a lot because I had no income or help form my State when I was in need. I cried and shamed myself many days and nights, almost going into depression. Thankfully the Pastor and church members prayed for and with me to keep my mind at ease so that I didn't go to far into a depressed state. Thank God. I later began to work for the USPS and became unable to work in 2022 due to health issues. I applied and was denied benefits again. This time because VEC said I was "able and available". It pains me to sit, stand, or walk for longer than 10 minutes. How or where am I to work if I have the issues previously stated. The cause of the issues, that nobody asked about, is bulging discs in L3, L4, L5, and S1, sciatica in the right leg, and degenerative bones in the left hip. So how "able and available was I really? I think that VEC should look at the reasons why people say they aren't "able and available" a little deeper before assuming, due to age or whatever criteria they look at, someone can get back into the workforce.I know people who, during the Covid times when I tried to receive benefits, got paid a lot of benefits and were aging from 19-25 years old and I know hadn't been working that long. Please reconsider the process and try to get more information when someone says that they aren't "able and available". With what I've stated I would love to be reconsidered for both of my cases, if possible. I can be reached @ if someone needs to contact me for more correspondence and/or information about me or my cases. Thank you.

Last Name: Mitchell Locality: Norfolk

My issue is that I became unemployed in September 2022 and was denied unemployment. I was denied because they said I was "able and available to work". I became unable to work at the USPS due to my L3, L4, L5, and S1 having bulging discs, sciatica in my right leg , and degenerative bone in my left hip. The most standing that I can do is between 10-30 minutes depending upon what I'm doing. I'm in pain multiple times daily, even when I'm just sitting around the house. So my complaint/concern is that I believe being "able and available" should be looked at differently. I went from bringing home around $2000/month to now having no income, because I was denied benefits. I'm sure that I'm not the only person who was denied but can't work due to health issues. Please reconsider your guidelines when denying those of us who want /like to work but life situations cause us not to be "able and available" as your system states right now.

Last Name: Burlingame Locality: Gloucester

I applied for benefits when my employer closed his business down due to covid and still to this day have not heard back from va unemployment

Last Name: Hale Organization: Myself Locality: Newport News

My name is Victoria and I became not able to do my job of choice or any job back in the midst of July 2021. I was no longer able to perform duties that's on the daily for my clients or myself, like: assisting them in their daily living so I was taken out from work and with the proper letter and notification I had delivered in person to my job Management/ Supervisor. I just a listing of a few things I had been struggling with my (gate), balance, sight and PTSD and begin to take me down. The Regional of the Healthcare industry I work in under stood the severity of this medical situation and granted from their end. From start to finished I did everything to I was told to even in my job search I did as I was too and at a point and time the system just locked me out and had suspended my phone number from the system... if and when I got a live person on the phone because on my sight that was the type pf assistance that was needed... went through ever step and was always surprised by how surprised they were of me not receiving any of the benefits and I'm still in need. I'm on Social Security Disability now... My point is they made a so call mistake and was sending checks out to people who wasn't free to receive them but not me... someone I felt who deserved it . Thank you

Last Name: Tyndall Locality: Oak Hall

I was laid off in November of 2021, and applied for benefits I was entitled to and to this day have yet to receive a payment. I was told by one employee of VEC I didn’t need to complete the portion, by another I did and that’s why my application was denied, but the form sent didn’t mention that at all, but rather simple questions about my work history. I’ve appealed, still have yet to have a hearing and was told that it would be dismissed because I didn’t file in time when I did, and have proof that their fax was busy multiple times when attempting to send them the documents. I signed up for their portal that I could never access, and they can’t seem to correct so that I can gain access. I almost lost my home, my car and had to beg family and friends to help me pay my bills because of their lack of support, and inability to properly do their jobs. What is even worse as a seasonal worker in November of last year I applied and come to find out they stopped using because of issues, and had no issues getting my claim processed and paid after a brief delay, but yet there is still 3,000 dollars they owe me and honestly I’m already to the point of going to court over it.

Last Name: Black Locality: Portsmouth

If you're claim goes to hearing, make it understandable to the average person. It's almost like it's written for someone with a law degree to understand, not your basic normal average unemployment collector. I missed my first hearing because I didn't list myself as a participant, I figured it was about me, why should I report myself. I had to appeal and thankful the officer overseeing my appeal saw that I was entitled to my unemployment, so it ended there. If he didn't, I would've had to take it civil court just because I didn't understand the procedure for filing an appeal. Plus you can't get anyone to help you do anything. The only instructions I got were the ones I got in the mail, and they were written in a way that made it seem like only someone who is a part of VEC chorus understand it. It almost seems like this is done on purpose so even those who's claims are legitimate, get confused, are lost in process and system, are ultimately denied and either can't afford to take it court or just give up. This seems like a system that the average person is doomed to fail at. Filing for weekly benefits on the whole were pretty easy and sells explanatory, but not the appeals process. Some actual human beings to assist on all levels works be very helpful. Have real human beings available to help walk us through the appeals process. This is essential for the appeals process because some of us have thousands of dollars we would have to back pay back to there state if we're denied. That could be life altering for many families who can't understand the process. None of this is taken into consideration. The appeals are the confusing part, and some assistance would really help instead of, your on your own, don't try to call us, you won't get through, nope can't email us either, hopefully you understand the legal documents written in legal jargon we just sent you! Just people who can help, and listen, not just bump us to the next department, or direct us to the website. REAL humans, NOT automated prompts. Make it a system that the average person can understand and isn't doomed to fail.

Last Name: Sharpe Locality: Norfolk

I have 50+ weeks of claims (half PUA-half regular unemployment) due to me, going back to 2020, that TO THIS DAY, I have not received. Every time I call, the representatives I speak to are unprofessional, hang up on me, tell me wrong information & when I correct them and they see in the system THEIR mistake, THEY STILL DON'T HELP ME, then they talk smart. Around April last year, I received a call from a man identifying himself as an employee with the 'state police association', and he was calling me because VEC stated to him they didn't want me to call them anymore because I 'allegedly' left a voicemail threatening to have VEC employees 'shot'. I was appalled at the length VEC would go to stop me from calling about money THEY OWE ME. I'm STILL looking for a lawyer to represent me for that. That is just wrong. I even reached out to Gov. Youngkin's office. NO HELP. So who CAN help me? I need my money. Point blank PERIOD! I even filed a formal (or informal) complaint & never heard anything back. I hope & pray this comment gets the exposure my claim needs. As well as VEC needs to be investigated. They need a whole new roster of employees. From the President on down to the work from home customer service NO HELP reps. They 'claim' they sent my case up to escalations over 100 times. Why haven't I received what's rightfully mine then? Make it make sense PLEASE

Last Name: Hartley Locality: Gloucester

Getting in touch with VEC on the phone is nearly impossible unless you have at least one hour. My call has been ended without cause on multiple occassions after waiting lengthy amounts of time. The website has glitches that will not accept online submissions for appeals. My documents could not be uploaded due to .pdf being attached to the document. I can not get an answer of how and where to access an overpayment for unemployment waiver. Everything written and online says that directions will be mailed. The dates of when the letters are written and when they are mailed are up to a weeks difference. The wording of the letters is confusing at best and I have a college degree.

Last Name: Crawford Locality: Suffolk

I reached out to the Governor’s office on 5/2/23 with this letter: Dear Governor Youngkin: My name is Tottiyonna Crawford age 24 and have lived in Virginia my whole life. In 2015 I graduated from high school a year early and luckily started working my first job at Wendy’s. From then on I consistently worked until March 20th, 2020 when the COVID pandemic was on the rise. Up until then I had never applied for unemployment but was surely thankful that it was there. Many of us around the country benefitted from there being a system in place already prepared for the unthinkable. Also many of us had worked and contributed to this system for years. Unfortunately though I live in Virginia where the whole government was not as prepared as other states and did not take into consideration the well-being of the citizens and decided to abruptly stop payments due to me in April of 2021 before the pandemic was even over. I spent many of my days trying to get in touch with someone to help with my case at the Virginia Employment Commission. There was a period when nobody answered the phone and then a time when they’d tell you anything just to get you off of the phone. I was even told to appeal my case when there was no need. Now I’ve been working on getting my back pay for two years in counting and there has been no progress. I get phone calls from workers at the VEC to update information as if I’m close to a resolution but they just say whatever to get you off the phone as well. It has been an absolute headache and a game of cat and mouse, because I’ve repeatedly gone up to the office to get a new PIN# and then when I call to further check on my case I’m told it is not the PIN# that’s in the system. Is the VEC deliberetly not trying to pay human beings what they owe? It seems intentional and when I continuously look online for an update or a breakthrough with the system I am sadly disappointed. Sometimes I can’t even login to the online system with the correct login information. I am still stuck in limbo when I am trying to establish myself in the world and complete my degree for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. There are many of us still in need, especially financially when there has been inflation along with debt that has accumulated from untimely responses and “assistance” from the Virginia Employment Commission. I’m hopeful that more than a few will finally receiving their dues from the Virginia Employment Commission and can finally give their sigh of relief from being done with this situation. I hope that this letter further brings this issue to light. Sincerely, Tottiyonna Crawford And now to top it off on 5/18/23 I am notified that I was denied by the deputy for failing to complete my claims when they already have copies of all of my claim confirmations. It just further shows that they don’t care to help the citizens or give them what is due. They rather lie and deceive those already stressed out, but I have my proof and will not stop until this is resolved in the right way. I am glad that this hearing is happening and hope for swift action.

Last Name: Flowers Locality: Richmond

Good afternoon, My comment is in regards to the recent layoff at Virginia Employment Commission. May someone explain to myself and others why there is 200+ layoffs within the commission itself when the work load is months behind? Even with the recent layoff status of the officers appointed by your government in which the unemployment rate is due to rise again because of the cost of living; will this help? Just looking for answers.

Last Name: Higgins Locality: Chesapeake

During and after the pandemic the VEC has been a nightmare in a time of need. First, I had to fight to get my payments Now I’m fighting to not have to repay. Months of reaching out to get assistance from public officials and the media I finally received payment. Long overdue and a late; I’ve been dealing with the financial impact of missed payments, having to live off charity of others and impact on my mental wellbeing as well as my physical health. The issue initially was identification and documentation was sent in. Now it’s about timeliness of appeal. I have learned it’s okay for their mail/communications to arrive late but ours have to be there ASAP (received notice three days before it was due!) There’s absolutely no one taking care of the people and no understanding of what it’s like to be not only unemployed but a disabled veteran who has limited resources.

Last Name: Carter Organization: VEC Locality: Richmond

Hello, I don’t really think that’s it’s a good thing to lay people off. My reason why is because of the people that is getting lay off they have families and people that they take care of. Some people have a hard time finding a job after being laid off from one. Those people that come in and they do they’re job and they do it to the best of there ability when you have some people who come into work barely doing work just walking around and talking. My thing is don’t lay off people that who see come in and do they’re job

Last Name: Reed Locality: Richmond

It doesn't make sense to cut the jobs of those who are currently working for the VEC especially the restricted employees. There should be funding to keep the restricted employees and make them permanent. Cutting these jobs is only going to make things worse because the people that are being laid off are the ones who deal with fraud and allocating payments which is what the people call in about the most. This whole situation is going to make a bad matter worse and the only way to fix it is to provide funding so that the people who have been there working on the claims and situations (fraud and overpayments) can continue to work and cut down the number of claims that are being held back due to unforeseen reasons. If need be, hire more people and bring the CSRs that are working from home into the office so that the calls can be handled in a timely manner and people can get some type of answers. Cutting jobs within the VEC was not the way to handle the situation. People are upset about the VEC being second to last in the United States, but no one is looking at the overall picture or at least providing those that work there with any incentive. No funding and low pay, cutting jobs and not explaining why, when the employees know that everything is still backed up and there is work that hasn't been looked at yet because of other things that are trying to get caught up. This is not fair and if anyone who works for the State of VA under the Governor or GA really cared, someone would go to the VEC and speak to those who are about to be laid off and ask them what they think.

Last Name: Alicea Locality: Norfolk

Dear Commitee Members, I am still waiting for pandemic unemployment. I was disqualified from receiving benefits, appealed the decision and won the appeal. Yet, I am still waiting. Now the claim says expired and when I call am told I have done all I can. I now cannot buy a home because I wasn't able to keep up with my bills while unemployed so my credit tanked. Please get these claims resolved so I can get back on track, the lo get it takes the more issues come up. I just want to provide for my family. Thank you

Last Name: Cotton Locality: Newport News

I have been waiting for my unemployment payment for 12 Weeks since November of 2021. I got fired November 16, 2021 and could not file until December of 2022 due to my account having fraud activity. I have sent every document that the VEC has asked for and I still have not received a payment. I have spoken to several people on the phone and and gone into the Hampton VEC office without any resolution. Please help because it is my benefit that I have never received.

Last Name: Brawner Locality: Chesapeake

I have been waiting for backpay since September of 2021. I was approved for 17 weeks of backpay around $11,000.00 dollars. When the money was deposited my account was hacked and the money was stolen. So since September I have been emailing,phone calls,texting doing everything the VEC has asked me to do. But the VEC has done nothing for me. I cannot find anybody that knows anything about my problem. Does anyone work at the VEC. I get no response or reply to any of my requests. Nobody knows nothing. VEC says they are still working and investigating. Come on give me a break for a year and a half. So I emailed Governor Youghkin. Still no response or reply about my problem. So I'm sending you this email maybe I can get some help from you. I don't know if VEC is or isn't working on my problem. Because nobody knows or even works at the VEC. I hope I can get some help from you with this issue. Thank you for your help.

Last Name: Knightnor Locality: Hampton

All the money they refuse to give you that you entitled to and all the money they try and make back

Last Name: Herman Locality: HENRICO

Dear Subcommittee members, I am speaking about my experience with the VEC during the pandemic and beyond. Thankfully , thanks to the Legal Aid Justice Center and in particular, Pat Levy Lavelle, my case is finally closed. In the beginning I was supposed to be on PUA but was placed in regular UI due to a faulty and outdated website. This began what was to be a series of threatening letters saying I owed money. My journey to rectify this began with the Office of Delegate Rodney Willet who tirelessly worked on my behalf to no avail. Letters to the VEC were not answered. There was a complaint about my first hearing examiner to the Secy of Labor after he exhibited unprofessional behavior. No response. I literally cried for three days from the stress of how that examiner treated me. It was not only maddening, trying to straighten my issue out. It was stressful beyond what a reasonable person should have to deal with. Employees at the VEC were not trained to deal with these issues, thus creating a merry go round of calls and letters. Somewhat understandable due to the shear magnitude of the pandemic. HOWEVER, The VEC should be ashamed of themselves and I will start with the people at the top for refusing to communicate with the public in a straightforward manner. The governors office ( Gov Northam) Pitiful in his late response and lack of care for the public was palpable. Two notable " good guys ' at the VEC for going the extra mile are Carole Scott and Michael Abraham. I would like to thank them for doing their exemplary best to help. My next step was the Legal Aid Justice Center.. Pat Levy-Lavelle answered my call promptly, and determined I was eligible, thus entitled to PUA, and that I did not own any monies. Without his help I doubt that this case would have ever been settled. I hope this committee gives this matter a good hard look ... and takes responsibility, putting people in charge that are better communicators. I was lucky, I knew how to advocate for myself, many did not and suffered immeasurable damages, losing their homes etc. I am writing this with them in mind. Thank you for your time. Laurel Herman

Last Name: Wilson jr Locality: Richmond

There shouldn't be repayments for accidental claims

Last Name: Golashesky Locality: Chesterfield

My interaction with the VEC since Fall 2022 has been awful. Their website requires random security questions (i.e. former husband’s new address or co-worker’s birthdate) which I have no knowledge of and, therefore, cannot access online services. Told to report to a VEC office to “prove” my identity for online access, visited the Northern Chesterfield office 10/26/22. Sat in small waiting room with 4 other people. Agent discussed my confidential claim information in the waiting room with the other 4 people listening. That is wrong! Visited the Mechanicsville VEC office on 11/10/22 to deliver proof of payroll since the VEC had not received any payroll data from my last employer yet. Agents tried to fax my payroll paperwork but fax machine “busy”. This paper was to Appeal the Commission’s decision to deny benefits. Called VEC 11/21/22, agent said the Deputy needs 90 days for Appeals; therefore, I need to wait. Called again 1/27/2023, agent said to “file a new claim” since I never heard back from the Deputy about my 10/25/2022 claim. Finally received Alternative Base Statement on 2/1/2023 for benefits beginning 1/28/2023. Feel free to contact me with any questions. This agency needs a total renovation beginning with online access with “normal” security-type questions that pertain to the claimant exclusively. Additionally, many of the personnel I spoke with were not helpful or did not seem to understand WHY I was contacting them.

Last Name: Weyer Locality: Chesterfield

I’m a current employee that in my opinion was wrongly selected fora reduction in force after faithfully serving 6.5 years at the central office located in Henrico. Thirty or so permanent positions of 160 or so select employees were given separation notice. Commissioner advised that no funding was available therefore the layoff to include the backlogs are no longer an issue against Senators Warner, Kaines objection. Tenure was not used in my case, if so why was someone with half of the seniority of myself in the same position (Benefits Supervisor). His name is Antoine Brit. I have system proof of the pending issues in my area that cannot be reviewed due to an office of 25 staff to a staff of 5 after the 6/9/23 layoff. I’m willing to provide answers to your follow up questions or concerns. 803 312-4674

Last Name: Gordon Locality: Lancaster

It has been 3 years since filing for unemployment. I have gone through 3 separate appeals which span over the course of 3 years which finally was turned in my favor in November of 22 yet still have not received my benefits. It is absolutely ridiculous being at the time I was wrongfully unemployed due to the pandemic I was the sole provider for my family of 5. When I call up there for updates they know exactly what the issue is yet do nothing to resolve it. I should not be begging for help from the people whose sole purpose of working for vec is to help people who have been done wrongfully by an employer. Someone should be held accountable for their failure.

Last Name: Wegbreit Organization: Central Virginia Legal Aid Society Locality: Richmond

I am Martin Wegbreit, Director of Litigation at Central VA Legal Aid Society, Richmond. Since the pandemic started, I have handled 564 unemployment compensation cases. Most problems I have seen I never saw in 40 prior years in legal aid in VA. Changes made by the VEC to handle vast numbers of claims & appeals over the past 3 years have made things worse rather than better. Major problems still exist. 1. Too much compartmentalization for Customer Contact Center staff to assist. Staff are not well trained, do not always have access to information & do not always understand what is on their computer screen. 2. Written documents are not written in plain English, have too much white space, too small a font & have inaccurate information; for example, notices say an appeal can be filed on-line, but only if the claimant creates an account & can use the Claimant Self-Service System (CSSS). 3. Every VEC Unemployment Compensation office or VEC Workforce Office must be staffed with an Unemployment Compensation Specialist who can resolve issues right then & there with no delay. 4. Fraud detection for the CSSS is the worst of both worlds, so low it does not keep out fraudsters & so high it keeps out legitimate claimants. The CSSS should allow 95+ percent of claimants to successfully create an account, create a username & password, & log in. 5. If the VEC emails a claimant that a document has been uploaded to the CSSS, the email also should say the uploaded document will be mailed. 6. All documents uploaded to the CCSS, whether by the VEC or by the claimant, should be viewable & available to the claimant. 7. First Level Appeals should be handled in the order in which they are received, which is not being done. This means sending the Notice of Appeal, scheduling the hearing & issuing the decision. 8. The Notice of Appeal acknowledging receipt of the appeal should state the date of the decision being appealed & the nature of the decision being appealed. 9. Due to current slowness of the mail, the appeals packet should be mailed a minimum of 20 days before a scheduled hearing. 10. When a party has a representative, the VEC should not use block scheduling for that hearing. 11. Additional phone lines & staff are urgently needed at First Level Appeals, so 95+ percent of calls get answered immediately or within a short (no more than 10 minute) waiting period. 12. A Decision of Deputy declaring an overpayment should list in one decision all outstanding overpayments in existence, rather than issuing multiple decisions. 13. A Decision of Deputy declaring an overpayment should state when benefits were denied & whether due to disqualification or ineligibility. 14. When a Fact-Finding Statement is sent to request waiver, it should cover all outstanding overpayments in existence when the waiver request is made. 15. The Installment Agreement should clearly state that the VEC will not pursue other collection methods if the claimant complies with the agreement. 16. Payment decisions at all levels should be promptly implemented & paid in no more than one month. 17. In 2022, HB 270/SB 219 required the VEC to create an Ombudsman (Chief Customer Advocate) to be staffed with 14 other people. Current information on the VEC website from November 2022 shows the Ombudsman was hired & interviews were being held. More progress is needed. 18. Benefits due in 2020 & earlier can no longer be paid electronically & paid only by paper check. This should be changed.

End of Comments