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Nevadans now waiting half a year for unemployment benefits

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 12:58 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Mike Cookman says he’d like to get back to work, but he needs money to fix his truck first. The problem is he says Nevada’s Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) is unable to help him in a timely manner.

Cookman says the pandemic stopped him from working as a DoorDash driver about six months ago on March 28.

KOLO 8 Evening Anchor, Noah Bond asked, “How much money do you have left to your name?”

“I’m broke. No money for cell phone payment. No money for rent. No money for insurance,” Cookman responded.

He lives in downtown Reno and is about two months behind on rent.

“Where would you be today if you had been paid your unemployment benefits?” Bond.

“I could pay off what I owe here. I could get the repairs to my truck. Maybe start up my own business,” Cookman.

“What are you doing for food right now?” Bond.

“My food situation is the food banks. It’s what I have to eat.” Cookman.

He says only fruit was available one week.

He says he originally filed for pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA), but got some bad news after several weeks.

“Beginning of August PUA informed me that I was disqualified from that program because I received the W2 within the last two years and that I had to file for regular U.I,” Cookman.

He has since filed for unemployment assistance and fears he will not be paid for all the weeks he filed for PUA, which he says totals about $10,000.

Cookman says he has spent hundreds of hours trying to call DETR.

“How many times have you talked with a human being at DETR?” Bond.

“At DETR?” Cookman.

“That’s PUA and unemployment insurance,” Bond.

“Six times,” Cookman.

“And of those conversations how many were productive and got things done?” Bond.

“One,” Cookman.

“What would you like to say to DETR?” Bond.

“How are these people supposed to call me back when I can’t afford a cell phone or get to the job because I don’t have a vehicle,” Cookman.

“Mike, what would you like to say to Gov. Sisolak?” Bond.

“Freeze your pay. Show us that you’re in the same boat as we are. Feel what we’re feeling. I’m not the only one. There’s thousands of people,” Cookman.

“What is your next step forward?” Bond.

“Noah. I have no idea,” Cookman.

Bond will continue telling the stories of Nevadans until DETR pays everyone who filed for and deserves unemployment assistance because of the pandemic.

Gov. Sisolak shut down Nevada in March of 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and forced all non-essential workers in the State out of work.

Bond will report the total amount of time it takes Nevada’s elected leaders to properly pay all of the people who lost their jobs as a result of Sisolak’s actions.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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