FORT WORTH, Texas — A Fort Worth woman has a warning for fellow Texans applying for unemployment in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis: If you're having trouble getting into the system now, just wait. There may be more hurdles ahead.
"It's so stressful," said Desire' Nesmith. She's a wife, mother and former substitute teacher and childcare provider. She lost both of her jobs as schools and facilities starting shutting down mid-March.
"On the 18th, I had no issues applying," Nesmith said.
What followed was two and a half weeks of confusion. Nesmith said her unemployment claim was accepted, but then her payment was put on hold. A few days later, she was finally able to reach someone over the phone, but she was told there were more problems to work out.
"That's when they told me 'Oh, there's actually a few issues with your account,'" Nesmith said. "We fixed all those, and they told me by the end of the week I should find something else out."
This past Friday, Nesmith's payment came through direct deposit. She thought she was done, but she was wrong.
"Then I see that I have notices saying that I've been determined to be ineligible for benefits, and that I now owe them the money that they paid me on Friday!" she said.
So she's still calling the Texas Workforce Commission's numbers for answers, like so many of you and another one of our viewers, who still couldn't get through after calling a staggering 347 times.
"Last week we were getting over 1.5 million calls in a single day," said Cisco Gamez, a spokesman for the Texas Workforce Commission.
He says this is a wave of unemployment requests is so big, the system just wasn't ready. The TWC has asked the Department of Labor and state technology services to help build up the website and phone lines to meet demand.
For more on the number of applicants during the fight to contain coronavirus, click here.
"We're just asking Texans please be patient with us," said Gamez. "We want to help you and we will help you."
In the meantime, Nesmith had to help herself and use the money for her family.
"I talked to my husband and we kind of had to touch it to pay our car payment and our mortgage that were all due at the first of the month, and we're already a couple of days late," she said.
Like the commission, and all of us, she's figuring it out as she goes.
More on WFAA:
- Wall Street jumps 7% as markets rally worldwide on virus hopes
- Bank of America prioritizing some small businesses ahead of others for federal stimulus money
- Your questions answered: Experts from across Texas shared advice, insight on COVID-19 crisis
- Paying it forward: Texans plan to donate stimulus checks
- State representative asks Texas governor to freeze property appraisals amid coronavirus concerns