Feb 11, 2011 12:12 AM by Matt Stafford

Unemployed and having trouble getting help

"We're late on a lot of bills, says Brandon Pelton. "It's getting scary."

Since Pelton was medically discharged from the Army last year, finding work has been harder than he ever thought. He's filed for unemployment insurance from the state, but waited for issues with Veterans Affairs to be worked out so he hasn't been getting the full amount. Pelton was told his unemployment would be back paid when the V.A. issue is straightened out. In the meantime he's late on his bills, especially the mortgage.

"It's kind of the last straw with my creditors," says Pelton

The V.A. issue got straightened out in January and he says he's tried since the first day to get the new information to unemployment to update his claim, but he hadn't heard back for weeks.

"Please just call me if you can't get to it right away, let me know you've received it," Pelton says, hoping for results but willing to accept just a confirmation that his papers were received.

Pelton finally got a letter in the mail Thursday, but says the amount was incorrect -- with no back pay. He's left still trying to get someone to answer his call at the busy Department of Labor and Employment in Denver.

"We are overwhelmed," says John Antal, program director for unemployment insurance for the state of Colorado. "We've had unprecedented numbers."

Antal says during 2010 their office received about 4,500 claims every week, and they have 230 phone lines in the Denver office that take all the calls for the state.

"It fills up at the beginning of the day and it's busy until we close down in the evening," says Antal. He suggests calling on Thursdays and Fridays -- the easier days to get through. Also, he says go online. They would like to see more people using their online service, but know some people feel like they need to talk to a person.

Pelton says he's tried the online service but need personal help; with his mortgage looming he has to get things straightened out fast.

He's continuing to call and send in paper work, hoping to get his back pay and get back to work.

"I'll enjoy doing something that pays the bills," says Pelton. He just hopes he can do that soon.

If you would like to file a claim with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, click here. You can also find out more about unemployment insurance or follow an existing claim.


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