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Labor to change phone availability times to help speed up claims turnaround

Idaho Department of Labor is adjusting its phone schedule to accept incoming calls between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mountain Time, and is reserving the hours of 4 to 6 p.m. MT for processing claims.

The move is expected to aid hundreds more recently unemployed Idahoans daily by freeing up time for staff to return phone calls, resolve issues preventing payment and process claims more quickly.

"Our goal is serving Idahoans as quickly as possible through this difficult time, and adjusting our phone schedule means we can focus on processing claims so Idahoans will receive their benefit payments sooner. This move reduces wait times for phone calls and click to chat interactions," said Labor Director Jani Revier.

From 4 to 6 p.m., claims specialists will return claimant calls, answer questions and clear up any issues on claimant applications. A trial run last week proved successful, allowing staff to clear more than 800 issues on claims in two hours.

"If you applied for benefits and there's an issue pending on your claim, please be available to answer your phone during these times," Revier said. "It may take several days to hear from us due to the number of calls our staff need to place, so please be patient as we work to serve you."

Agency staff are also being reassigned to help process claims during this time, and the department is hiring an additional 12 claims specialists with more to be hired later.

During the past three weeks, the department has issued 60,603 payments for a total of $17.95 million to more than 30,546 Idahoans whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19.

Claimants do not need to call the department in order to file a claim and can access the claimant portal via cell phones and tablets.

Answers to many of the questions people have can be found in FAQs at https://idahoatwork.com/2020/03/18/faqs-about-unemployment-insurance-and-covid-19/. Details on the CARES Act provisions such as extensions, benefits for self-employed and gig workers and the $600 additional payment will be posted in the FAQs when they are available.

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