Fed funds aimed at expanding outreach, improving access to benefits
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 11, 2022) — Plans are underway to establish a mobile unemployment insurance office to make the program more accessible to Kentuckians, the Office of Unemployment Insurance announced today.
The agency will have the ability to dispatch the vehicle regularly to underserved communities to help claimants file for benefits, request payments, verify their identity, participate in eligibility reviews, reset PIN numbers and more.
Gov. Andy Beshear said deploying the mobile office will expand outreach to Kentuckians and can help improve the delivery of UI services to people faced with obstacles like language barriers, literacy problems or disabilities.
“The system is designed to kick people out – it is set up for people to make mistakes, fail and just eventually quit and pay out as little as possible, and that’s wrong,” Gov. Beshear said. “We hope to change that by dispatching a new mobile office with UI specialists throughout the commonwealth who can work one-on-one with people who may be eligible for benefits but on the verge of falling through the cracks.”
The new mobile office is funded through a $4.5 million UI Equity Grant, awarded to OUI by the U.S. Department of Labor May 2. The office has allocated $2.3 million of those funds to establish the mobile office, and the rest will be spent on improving and enhancing the way the agency communicates with UI claimants.
A new self-serve portal will provide status updates to claimants, while system-generated SMS text messages and push notifications will be used to alert them if actions are needed in order to move claims along. Claimants will also notice improvements to the language found on all public-facing websites that will be simplified and more user friendly.
Labor Cabinet Secretary Jamie Link said having the ability to quickly dispatch a mobile office and immediately set up a UI command center will help Kentuckians during future disasters.
“We learned from the recent tornado disaster in December how valuable something like this can be – this is one way for us to help people who are hurting immediately and get benefit payments in their hands as quickly as possible,” Link said.