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Questions remain for nearly 200,000 Tennesseans waiting on jobless claims

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — There remain a lot of Tennesseans who are not getting unemployment benefits. While more than 300,000 are getting the money, nearly 200,000 are not.

Every top Tennessee lawmaker from Governor Bill Lee on down say they have been getting hundreds of calls or emails from people waiting for unemployment benefits.

Many have called television stations.

“On March 18, I filed my claim,” says Candace Richardson who was laid off because of COVID-19 precautions from her job as a server at a Dickson County, TN restaurant.

Like several of the nearly 200,000 Tennesseans we have talked to awaiting unemployment benefits, the young woman thought she had done something wrong in the filing.

Her phone call to the Tennessee Department of Labor said otherwise.

“I kept being told to be patient,” Candace told WKRN-TV, “I got my card in the mail to receive money on it, like a month after I filed my claims. They said the money would be on there in three or four days.”

It wasn’t.

Instead, the laid-off server told us about rent that’s due along with a car needing repairs and new tags, so she turned elsewhere.

“Luckily I got food stamps,” said Candace. “If I had not gotten that I don’t know how I would be eating right now… Lucky I got approved for that.”

The process of losing a job and not being among the 300,000 Tennesseans getting unemployment–sometimes seems too much.

“I was getting to the point where I was ready to give up…its kind of emotional,” she said trying to hold back tears. “I don’t quite understand why I have not received mine and a lot of other people have (theirs). I thought it was me and I was doing something wrong.”

Nearly 200,000 are asking the same questions.

Luckily Candace goes back to work next week, but she’ll still be owed weeks of unemployment.

The labor department says there have been system upgrades to handle the unemployment load and hundreds of workers retrained to help with the claims.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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