VILLA HILLS, Ky. — As the cries for help to get unemployment benefits in Kentucky reach a fever pitch, the state’s leadership is trying to assure citizens more help is coming.
It cannot come soon enough for Cynthia Naylor of Villa Hills, whose business was shut down by the pandemic last year as her husband, Lee, was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
Naylor has been hand-making and selling handbags for the last 20 years since leaving corporate America, with most of her sales at various shows in the region.
“They canceled all the art shows, so I had no income coming in,” Naylor said.
In January, Naylor says, the unemployment benefits she was receiving suddenly stopped with no explanation.
"I just keep applying… and they keep saying apply again,” said Naylor. “You call and you just get a recording saying they’re putting you on a wait recall list, but they never would call you.”
The timing to have no income to live off of could not be worse. Last week, Naylor’s husband took a fall and suffered a stroke. Doctors discovered he had a brain tumor, and he underwent surgery this week, Naylor said.
“He’s doing well,” Naylor said, “But he can’t use his right side, so we have to go through rehab.”
When not at her husband’s side, Naylor said, she’s online or on hold trying to get answers.
“I have called every hour for the whole time that they’re supposed to be open, day after day after day, just to get something about a return call. But they never call you back,” Naylor said.
Naylor worries about mounting medical bills on top of everyday bills with no money coming in and says she would like to focus on caring for her “sweet” husband. “It’s so sad … and I know we got a long ways to go,” she said.
WCPO 9 reached out to Kentucky’s unemployment services to request a special look at Naylor’s case, but the state did not respond to that request. A spokesperson with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet told WCPO no one was available for an interview.
"The Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance staff is busy helping citizens during the pandemic. Our priority is helping those who have applied for and are currently awaiting the UI benefits they are eligible to receive," the statement read.
The commonwealth has announced plans to open a new call center next month to help people struggling to get their unemployment claims resolved.
Gov. Andy Beshear announced last week the state is also working to open 11 Kentucky Career Center regional offices April 15 for in-person appointments, including a location in Covington. People with unemployment issues will have to schedule appointments, but the scheduling tool for that is not online yet.
Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to talk to her about telling your unemployment story.