Unemployment benefits delayed for thousands of Kansans

TOPEKA, Kan. - It's a benefits back-up for some out-of-work Kansans trying to collect unemployment. Some have gone for weeks without their money.

The Kansas Department of Labor said anyone who has signed up for long-term benefits, called Emergency Unemployment Compensation, may be affected.

Chad Smith, of Gardner, is one of 400 people who were laid off when the T-Mobile call center in Lenexa closed in June. Since then, Smith has been looking for a job and collecting unemployment benefits, but they stopped coming three weeks ago.

"You're patient for a little bit, but after the third week you start to get nervous because it is a lot of money," Smith said. "You're talking almost $1,200. That can actually pay some bills."

Smith is glad he has just started a new job and will no longer have to worry about unemployment benefits. But he is far from the only one with this problem.

The Department of Labor said over the past three weeks, nearly 2,300 people have filed for extended benefits after the program was renewed by President Obama.

It's a lot to handle all at once and is a slow process because it's all done on paper.

"They are processing all of the paper applications as quickly as they can, but the process is still taking about three weeks," said Department of Labor Communications Director Barbara Hersh.

She said thousands of people are contacting the state's labor call center every day because of the slowdown. That's why the Department of Labor is asking people still in need of benefits not to call. Hersh said those affected should wait for their determination letter, which spells out benefit entitlements.

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