PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - For many Arizona families, money is tight right now. More than 400,000 Arizonans have filed for benefits since March, but some say they haven't seen any money from the state, weeks after filing.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security's website says, "DES is doing everything it can to get Arizonans benefits as soon as possible. However, DES is experiencing a high number of claims due to COVID-19 and processing times could vary. Additionally, if there are issues with the claim, such as incomplete information, processing the claim could take up to 21 days. Prior to the increased claim volume, payments were being made, on average, within 14 calendar days after benefits have been processed and approved."
As businesses remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic, an unrelenting jobs crisis continues to push Americans onto unemployment rolls.
"What about people who are literally living paycheck to paycheck, and to go four weeks, six weeks without a paycheck means you're not paying your bills?" said Tamara Hieronymus from Peoria.
Hieronymus said she was laid off March 20, and she filed for unemployment right after that. For her, it's been more than 21 days.
"I sent the paperwork in, and I got a letter back immediately," said Hieronymus. "I got the little ATM card in the mail, and they said we need information about your holiday and your Arizona sick time, so my employer provided all of that information."
She said everything went smoothly until she sent paperwork to DES, showing she'd get sick and vacation pay.
"I faxed it in, and then stone cold silent," Hieronymus said.
Hieronymus says the status of her claim online has said "active issues" for weeks. The last time she saw any money was the beginning of April when her employer sent her a small check for unused vacation time. She says she has not received any money from the state. Her said boyfriend and daughter are having similar issues getting unemployment.
"My daughter is a stylist, and she can't," said Hieronymus. "She's supposed to be able to get it because they forced them to close, and she can't get it."
She says they have bills to pay and can't wait forever.
"It's starting to get stressful," said Hieronymus. "Like I wasn't worried at first. I thought with the federal government kicking in the extra money, and knowing I had a job to go back to in July, I was gonna be fine, but now with not even knowing when am I going to get paid?"
Someone at DES told her Tuesday the problem is likely just a delay, and they will get to her. Hieronymus hopes it's soon.