GRANDVIEW, Mo. — As many people continue to struggle with financial hardships during the pandemic, the need for unemployment is higher than ever in Missouri.
The Missouri Department of Labor currently has roughly 21,000 appeal request for unemployment, a number it says is "unprecedented."
This is causing delays for when Missourians are able to have a hearing scheduled with the department, to see if they qualify for unemployment assistance.
Greg Driver is a contractor who's been unemployed since the Spring due to the ripple effects of the pandemic.
"Unemployment this year, they all of a sudden stopped,” Driver said.
According to Driver, his pandemic unemployment assistance with Missouri stopped coming in July.
"I contacted them by internet and of course gave up by phone and I followed up with what they called a hearing appeal August 4,” Driver said.
Four months later, Driver is still waiting to see if his hearing will be scheduled.
“They wouldn't respond to the hearing and they owe me $3,065 from what I computed,” Driver said.
According to Driver, the last thing he heard from the department is that there were tens of thousands of requests to schedule. The department told Driver it was "working as fast as possible."
"A few times they'd say something like we're overwhelmed,” Driver said.
41 Action News reached out to the department to ask why it’s taking so long for people to hear back:
“The unprecedented number of unemployment claims filed since the beginning of the pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented number of appeals. We are working diligently to serve all those that have filed an appeal as quickly as possible.”
"I gotta have those basics,” Driver said. “These are emergency, dental, proper medical, my truck, possible eviction, rent, you know stuff like that."
According to the department, after filing an appeal people then receive a confirmation notice.
Once a hearing is scheduled, people will be mailed a packet containing documents needed for the appeal.
After an appeal, if someone qualifies and is owed benefits, they will receive the assistance.