KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Like the rest of the country, the Kansas City metro area is experiencing unprecedented job loss. If you’re filing for unemployment for the first time, it can be stressful and confusing.

On Thursday, KCTV5’s Abigael Jaymes spoke to two workers who had very different experiences.

Unemployment officials are urging people to file online. For Missouri, that’s at the Department of Labor website here. For Kansas, it’s online at getkansasbenefits.gov.

Filing online can take all of about 10 to 15 minutes. Just make sure to have your Social Security Number and other identification handy. 

However, for some people the process has been confusing and difficult.

Servers Astoria Camille and Anna Rainbolt were both temporarily let go from their jobs at Ragazza in Kansas City.

“I got denied, saying it was insufficient funds and told to reapply April 4th,” Camille said.

“I just got notification that I was accepted, but there’s pending a 10-day waiting period,” Rainbolt said.

A record 3.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams the economy. For some, it’s a struggle to get answers.

“I got on the phone yesterday trying to get in touch with a human, but I get it, they’re just completely inundated right now,” they said.

The Department of Kansas said that, if all goes well, you should get your money seven to 10 days after filing.

As far as who gets accepted, it’s case by case.

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, both Missouri and Kansas are being more flexible. They’ve adjusted eligibility requirements and you no longer need to prove you’re actively seeking employment.

“As long as they’re taking all steps necessary to return to work for that employer when work is ready, that will satisfy the work search requirements for us,” explained Laurel Klein Searles, Kansas’ Director of Unemployment Insurance.

Rainbolt, who lives in Missouri, said, “It’s kind of like you just go in and say, ‘I’m still unemployed, this is the week, from this date to this date.’ If you don’t do that, then you don’t get your weekly amount.”

For Kansans, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit is $488. For Missourians, it’s $320. Thousands are now hoping neither state runs out of cash.

“We do have $987 million in place right now, but with increase claims coming in at unprecedented rates, we’re not sure at this point how long it’s going to last,” Searles said.

For Rainbolt and Camille, with rent and mortgage payments due both are feeling the pressure.

“It’s definitely going to be touch and go,” Rainbolt said. “I’m going to have to start figuring out other ways to bring in an income.”

“Anything will be better than nothing,” Camille said.

Kansas Unemployment officials said they received 181,000 calls,” on Wednesday. One person called 714 times in one day.

They said many frequently asked questions can be found online and are asking that you only call if you don’t have access to the internet, that way they can get everyone taken care of.

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