80°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Unemployment pay delays causing desperation, taking toll on Nevadans

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the shutdown of businesses and casinos throughout Nevada, causing thousands to seek help from the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, which oversees the unemployment office.

A total of 412,211 initial claims have been filed this year through the week that ended April 25 — further exceeding the number of claims filed in any full calendar year in state history — but only a portion have been processed.

The delay in processing unemployment insurance claims is taking a toll on Nevadans.

Carol and Tad Allen

A fundraising campaign created Monday on Facebook was a last-ditch effort to help pay bills and not the way Tad Allen anticipated celebrating his 60th birthday.

The Las Vegas resident was laid off from his job at car rental company Budget nine weeks ago and hasn’t received his unemployment insurance benefits, though he did receive his Bank of America debit card.

Allen said he has been calling the office multiple times a day over the past two months to find out why he has not been receiving payments but is unable to contact the office.

His wife, Carol Allen, said they’ve tried to scrape together extra cash by selling all of her jewelry — including her engagement ring. It was just enough to cover this month’s rent while the stimulus check helped cover other expenses. She’s not sure how they will pay rent for June or their other mounting bills.

“I don’t even know if we’re allowed to do the fundraiser, but we don’t have any other choice,” she said. “We’re desperate. What else are we supposed to do? It’s so sad and sucks to have to ask for help.”

Kate-Marie Stone

Kate-Marie Stone, a stage hand for shows on the Strip, was able to file her unemployment insurance claim in March.

Everything appeared to be fine and she received her Bank of America debit card, but she’s still waiting to receive her first payment.

“If I hadn’t checked (my account) online I would have never seen the message saying there was an issue and it’s being reviewed,” Stone said. “And it doesn’t tell me what I need to do.”

Since March, she has been calling the unemployment office every day, starting at 7 a.m., to try to speak with someone to find out when her claim will be reviewed and what documents she may need to submit, adding that it’s unclear why her claim needs to be reviewed.

Luckily her husband is still working, even though he has reduced hours. She said the family of four, who live near Henderson, have just enough money to cover bills but “groceries get tight.”

“I have two kids — four and seven — so when it comes to explaining certain things to them I’ve said we shop differently,” Stone said.

Scott Linting

An error message prompted Scott Linting to call the unemployment office in order to continue filing his claim for unemployment insurance benefits. That message popped up March 20, and Linting said he still hasn’t reached DETR.

“In all this time, I have had no assistance,” he said. “Money is running out; bills are stacking up and food is scarce.”

The graphic artist in Enterprise was laid off from his job and immediately filed for unemployment, but he has yet to see any funds.

He has called the two phone numbers for Southern and Northern Nevada residents, the 1-800 number for the third-party call center, a phone number to special claims and even the U.S. Department of Labor.

“I even tried driving down in person (to the office),” he said. “Trying to get a hold of DETR has left me exhausted, waking up early every day and calling every five seconds, and (feeling) defeated.”

As of Tuesday, he said, it had been 46 days without reaching anybody at the unemployment office or receiving any financial assistance.

Cheryl Butler-Adams

International corporate travel agent Cheryl Butler-Adams has only a few weeks before she will need to find a new place to live.

“I get that it is a stressful time for us all but DETR took a stressful situation and made it far worse,” she said. “I have three weeks to get (my claim) together or my landlord will begin eviction proceedings on May 31.”

The Henderson resident needed to submit documentation to DETR from her employer that confirmed she was furloughed and could receive retroactive payments from February. Butler-Adams said she mailed the documents on March 26 but has not received any response and is still waiting for her claim to clear.

“I know the documents have been received, as I have fax confirmations and two FedEx signed confirmations,” she said. “To date, I have 16 weekly claims awaiting payment — (my) claim is 23 weeks so I am more than halfway done with my allotted (benefits) — and yet no payment.”

Carmen LaBrake

Las Vegas hairstylist Carmen LaBrake filed for unemployment for the first time two months ago, after her salon was one of many nonessential businesses in Nevada that had to temporarily close in March.

“It’s a bizarre situation, and it’s a painful situation,” she said.

LaBrake is an independent contractor and is unable to file for unemployment. DETR said its system will be ready to process claims from independent contractors, self-employed and gig workers in mid-May.

Still, LaBrake said she continues to file a weekly claim even though a message tells her she’s not eligible.

She also needs to move at the end of this month because she’s unable to afford rent; one of her roommates moved out and her second roommate, who works in the restaurant industry, was laid off.

While her landlord said she could stay, LaBrake was told she would be penalized and have to pay full rent as well as back pay on the discount on rent she received in March.

“I have to find a new residence, which is not easy right now because I show such little income,” she said. “I’m like, ‘I’m going to have to rent a bedroom at someone’s house and put everything in storage.’ And who is paying for that?”

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Fremont Street Experience is counting down to reopening - Video
A countdown clock is running for the reopening of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Friday afternoon, May 29, 2020. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossFit Apollo reopens after COVID-19 shutdown - Video
CrossFit Apollo gym co-owner and a member talk about their first day back, Friday, May 29, 2020, after gyms and fitness centers were closed during the coronavirus shutdown. (Glenn Puit and Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gym owner Rob Martinez talks about reopening.
Rob Martinez, owner of The Gym Las Vegas, talks about reopening his gym under Phase Two of Nevada's reopening plan. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas gyms reopen.
Desiree Ford talks about getting back to the gym after Nevada moves into Phase Two of its reopening plan. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossFit gym reopens
Chad Cole, co-owner of CrossFit Apollo, talks about the reopening of his gym as Nevada moves into Phase Two. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Train carrying decommissioned nuclear reactor passes through Las Vegas - VIDEO
The train carrying a decommissioned nuclear reactor vessel from Southern California is passing through Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MountainView Hospital protest
Nurses at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas hold a protest Thursday morning over what they say are planned layoffs and pay cuts by the hospital’s owner, HCA Healthcare. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 testing site moves to UNLV Tropicana parking garage - Video
New Clark County COVID-19 testing site at UNLV Tropicana Avenue parking garage opens Wednesday and includes pediatric and walk-up testing. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist killed in crash in southwest Las Vegas - Video
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka confirmed a motorcyclist was killed in a crash with another vehicle at Durango Drive and the 215 Beltway just before 9 a.m., Monday, May 25, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas man runs 100-mile marathon for veterans on Memorial Day - Video
Pete Madredes ran a 100-mile marathon at Exploration Peak Park in Las Vegas to raise money for Mission 22, a nonprofit that supports veterans with mental illness. He started Sunday morning, May 24, and ended Memorial Day morning. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum reopens after coronavirus shutdown - Video
The Neon Museum reopened Friday night, May 22, after it shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working at home with kids
Educators Jessica Houchins and Christopher Houchins discuss their work life merged with their parenting life during quarantine, at their home in Henderson on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
6.5 earthquake in western Nevada - Video
A 6.5-magnitude earthquake damaged U.S. Highway 95, which was closed west of Tonopah near Coaldale, on Friday, May 15, 2020. (Nye County Sheriff's Department)
Southern Nevada Health District discusses contact tracing
Devin Raman, senior disease investigator at SNHD, explains how contact tracing works, noting how local clusters of disease are tracked.
Cowabunga Bay Prepares For Patrons
The management and staff at Cowabunga Bay in hopes of opening soon are implementing coronavirus safety measures to ensure patrons are happy and safe.
Pickleball courts coming to Sunset Park - Video
Clark County officials broke ground Tuesday on a championship pickleball tournament complex at Sunset Park, expected to open by next spring. (Clark County)
Great-grandmother meets great-granddaughter through window
A global pandemic couldn't keep June Watkins from meeting her 1-month-old great-granddaughter, even if it had to be through a window. Christie Jensen, the baby's mother, brought together four generations of women with her mother, DeeDee Jensen, when they brought the baby to meet Watkins for the first time ahead of Mother's Day on Sunday.
Firefighters deliver free pizza to coronavirus testers - VIDEO
The Professional Firefighters of Nevada delivered free pizza and soft drinks to Nevada National Guard members and health care workers who are performing COVID-19 testing at the UNLV School of Medicine. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate fatal crash - VIDEO
One person died at University Medical Center after a two-vehicle crash at West Russell and South Fort Apache roads, Thursday morning, May 7. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southern Nevada Health District COVID-19 update
Southern Nevada Health District staff conduct a video briefing to provide updates about the public health agency’s COVID-19 response in Clark County.
Greg Zanis, the cross maker, has died - VIDEO
Greg Zanis was the Illinois carpenter who built and erected the 58 simple white crosses in the shadow of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that turned into a focal point for a city’s grief after the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in 2017. He died on Monday, May 4, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seniors, people with disabilities getting special shopping hour at Costco - VIDEO
Costco will implement new rules Monday that, in addition to requiring face masks, will allow seniors 60 and older to shop from 9-10 a.m. weekdays. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson Coalition for Responsible Government protest
Henderson Coalition for Responsible Government protest. (Julie Wootton-Greener/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Desert Oasis students celebrate senior prom with parade - VIDEO
Desert Oasis High School’s senior prom was supposed to be held Saturday, but it was canceled when schools statewide were closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson winery reacts to Sisolak's economic plan - VIDEO
Governor Sisolak's reopening plan is easier said than done for the only winery in Clark County. Grape Expectations is trying to figure out how to open up shop when they are three businesses in one. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Locals rush to reopened tennis courts
Daniel Nunez and Sarah Germain made immediate plans to go to their local tennis court, Darling Tennis Center, when they received an email that the facility would open on May 1.
Allegiant Air employees deliver snacks and drinks to food pantry - VIDEO
Allegiant Air donated food items to the Vegas Community Pantry in Las Vegas. The snack and drinks are commissary items that Allegiant planned to serve to passengers who were flying to Las Vegas for March Madness. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Health care workers protest over unsafe working conditions - VIDEO
Healthcare workers from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) gather at Southern Hills Hospital to protest unsafe working conditions at Las Vegas HCA-affiliated hospitals and demand that OSHA intervene. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 Q&A - VIDEO
You had questions, and we've got the answers! Renee Summerour sits down with Dr. Brian Labus, epidemiologist with the UNLV School of Public Health and member of the governor's medical advisory team, and RJ health reporter Mary Hynes to answer viewer questions regarding the coronavirus spread in Nevada. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal) THIS WEEK WE COVERED A LOT OF TOPICS: 1. POSTPONED MEDICAL/DENTAL PROCEDURES 2. GOV. SISOLASK ANNOUNCES TO EXTEND STAY-AT-HOME ORDER 3. THIS THE STAY AT HOME ORDER PART OF THE "ROAD TO RECOVERY PLAN"? 4. WILL THERE BE A MASK REQUIREMENT STATEWIDE? 5. DOES WEATHER PLAN A ROLE IN THE SPREAD OF COVID-19? 6. WHERE IS NEVADA THIS WEEK ON ANTIBODY TESTING? 7. MYTH: AIR CONDITIONER CAN CAUSE CORONAVIRUS 8. IS IT SAFE TO GO BACK OUTSIDE? BEACHES? HIKING? ETC?
Fire at strip mall in east Las Vegas - VIDEO
Firefighters battle a blaze at Nellis Plaza at 1000 N. Nellis Blvd. in east Las Vegas, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Hall marks Israeli Independence Day - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Hall’s lights turned blue and white Tuesday night to mark Israel’s 72nd Independence Day. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lines move quickly through CCSD food distribution sites - VIDEO
Individuals pick up packaged meals from Clark County School District food distribution sites on Tuesday morning, April 28, 2020: Basic Academy of International Studies in Henderson and Kelly Elementary School in Las Vegas. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neighborhood rallies behind grad amid the coronavirus lockdown
Riley Lynn Thacker's mom put a sign in their yard to congratulate her daughter completing her senior year and neighbors followed suit. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
National Guard sent to Reno after City Hall damaged

The city of Reno and Washoe County issued mandatory curfews Saturday night after Reno City Hall was damaged and looted during protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.