Tennesseans rejoice over the return of unemployment system

Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Tennessee unemployment benefits system is back up after a cyberattack knocked it offline last Sunday.

The issue impacted more than 12,000 people who rely on these benefits to survive. It prevented the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) from processing new claims, sending benefit payments, or providing job placement services.

We introduced you to Karen Carrillo last week during the outage when she could not submit a claim. She has been waiting for benefits for 18 weeks since she lost her job in March.

Now that the system is working again, Karen could submit her weekly claim, but the system still said her case was “in review.”

Karen said it was frustrating not being able to get any answers about what was causing the delay or if there was anything she could do to get her benefits faster. Hence, WSMV 4 reached out to the Department of Labor, asking about the status of her claim.

TDLWD spokesperson Chris Cannon said there had been an issue with Karen’s claim that required it to be reviewed by a person instead of automatically approved by the computer system. Unfortunately, that meant the claim was part of a significant backlog, but we could get it approved within a couple of hours of reaching out and gave Karen the news shortly after.

“Oh my God,” Karen said. “Halleluiah! That is amazing. I knew that getting it brought to light, and I may just be the face of it, but I know that is going to help a lot of people. I think it’s going to light a fire under them, so they realize what kind of hardship they are doing to people. I mean, that’s ridiculous.”

Karen said the more than $4,000 she is owed in benefits would allow her family to catch up on bills after months of relying only on her husband’s salary. That forced them to cancel vacations and other plans.

“If it wasn’t for people like you who do stories like this, I mean, I’m nobody,” Karen said. “But doing stories like this right here, I feel like sometimes they never get that sense of urgency.”

Cannon said the cyberattack caused even more delays in processing claims, and TDLWD is now working to figure out how to ensure the issue will not happen again.

“System security is always a top priority, and we will work for hand in hand with our vendor to make sure we have the most secure system possible,” Cannon said. “This is really on their end, so we are going to work with them to make sure that they are taking the appropriate steps to keep our system safe so Tennesseans can use that system as it’s supposed to be used.”

Other people who did not get a payment last week due to the outage can expect to start seeing those benefits as soon as Wednesday.

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