39K in DC without unemployment benefits after technical glitch

A technical glitch is costing thousands of people who are out of work in D.C. their unemployment check. The Department of Employment Services said they have looked into the issue and those impacted should receive their money in the coming days.

Devon Pina is among the 39,000 people waiting for desperately needed money. He has been waiting for his benefits to kick in since November. He was told he would be receiving his back pay and first check last week, but that didn’t happen.

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"I have two overdraft fees so far, the rest of my bills for the month of February – at this point - I’m uncertain on as to how they’re going to be taken care of. I’ve had to rely on friends and family and my church to help me get through this," said Pina.

Tina Ford is a mother of two. She said she has zero dollars in her account after tons of late fees and overdrafts as a result of this issue.

"It affected us in a big way because of course living on unemployment is difficult because you have to plan your bills, you have to set up payment arrangements, so when you set up a payment arrangement and you expect it to be there, it’s just a trickle-down effect. My internet is off right now," said Ford.

She said her kids are not able to do virtual learning due to no internet so she’s very stressed. Luckily, after our FOX 5 report, a viewer – who would like to stay anonymous – reached out to help Ford.

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Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes, Department of Employment Services Director, said those affected should expect to receive last week’s unemployment benefits by Wednesday and there should be no hiccups with this week’s payment.

The agency has made changes to the system’s code as a result of the technical glitch. Morris-Hughes is now looking into replacing the current system they use.

"What we have learned is that we are going to make sure that we work with our vendor even closer than we have before to continue to test the system to ensure that no other technical issues like this occur. We are currently looking at a cloud or web bases solution to implement to support our current UI benefit system, and then last, we are completing the RFB process for the unemployment insurance benefit system to replace our legacy system," said Morris-Hughes.

Mayor Muriel Bowser responded to the issue as well.

"We terribly regret that this happened. We have a system that’s – we’re asking it to do a lot of things to accommodate these new programs," said Bowser.

During Mayor Bowser’s press conference, FOX 5 asked if anyone will get reimbursed for any late fees or overdrafts due to this issue and she said no.

Anyone who needs support can visit coronavirus.dc.gov.