Georgia to help troubleshoot jobless claims after complaints

After months of complaints from people who have struggled to file unemployment claims, Georgia officials announced Thursday that they would begin scheduling troubleshooting appointments online.

The Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday that it would launch a program on Monday that would offer 3,000 appointments in the two-week pilot program. New time slots will become available on the department’s website each Monday.

Someone having trouble filing or receiving benefits will be assigned a two-hour window during which a Labor Department employee will call and answer questions.

The department’s offices have been closed because of COVID-19. With a crush of claims sparked by the pandemic beginning in March, people have complained that phone lines are always busy and emails go unanswered. Some Democratic state legislators have led protests outside department offices saying they’ve been forced to troubleshoot for constituents who can’t get answers.

“We have been adding personnel to our staff to help with general responses and this addition will allow our experienced staff to focus on resolving claimant issues more efficiently,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, an elected Republican, said in a statement.

The state has paid more than $15 billion in regular state and special federal benefits to hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries since March.