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OESC holds in-person event in Ardmore to help with unemployment claims

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 7:03 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Oklahoma (KXII) - The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission hosted an event Wednesday and Thursday at the Ardmore Convention Center to fix problems many have had with obtaining unemployment benefits.

It’s the third event the OESC has had, the previous ones in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The event will continue Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Ardmore resident Shantelle Jones said she’s been trying to file for unemployment since last month.

“I’ve been waiting on unemployment,” she said. “I just need money. I’ve been trying to work but nobody’s hiring with a pandemic going on.”

Jones checks online every day to see if there’s been any progress. She said her boyfriend tells her to have patience, but she says that’s not an option for her.

“I can’t,” Jones said. “We’re struggling, we have three kids we have to take care of.”

Jones says her calls were put on hold for hours, the online agent never responded, and emailing didn’t solve anything either.

“The emails- they don’t work,” Jones said. “They send me the same information every time I ask for something different. So its kind of hard to get in touch with somebody.”

With the proper paperwork, someone filing a claim can come to the event to talk to a worker about traditional unemployment, fraudulent claims, state benefit extensions, or problems with the state credit card.

OESC Interim Executive Director Shelly Zumwalt said the commission is being as careful as they can to keep people safe during the pandemic.

“We require people to wear masks,” Zumwalt said. “We give a health screening when they walk in, we take their temperatures and the seats are socially distanced.”

Janet Zuniga and her family came to the event after her mother lost her job.

“It was actually pretty smooth and it went by pretty fast,” Zuniga said.

She said it’s easier than trying to figure out the paperwork yourself.

“They actually know what you need to fill out and everything,” Zuniga said. “It’s really nice that they have it set up like this.”

Her mom needed a translator, which the security commission provided.

“If someone has an issue with navigating that sight without an interpreter we have an interpreter on staff,” Zumwalt said.

The OESC planned to only help people who got passes on Tuesday, but since not all the passes were given out, they said they’ll take walk-ins on Thursday.

Copyright 2020 KXII. All rights reserved.

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