RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – Despite a new governor and a new head of the Virginia Employment Commission, problems continue surrounding unemployment benefits. 

Whether it’s a long wait to get a decision – or a surprise notice from the VEC that you must return the money you were awarded two years ago – problems persist for people and their unemployment claims. 

“It’s been terrible. I mean, I’m down to nothing. It’s rough,” said James Lee of Virginia Beach.

He filed for his benefits back in March because of an injury that makes him unable to work, but he still doesn’t know his status. 

Lee works on road construction and pipe installation, and one of his job sites was the new Rivers Casino being built in Portsmouth. 

He filed for benefits 17 weeks ago and keeps getting the runaround. 

“They keep saying the same thing – ‘well, we don’t know. We don’t have a decision on when the deputy’s gonna make a decision.'” 

Lee goes back to the doctor next week, and he’s hoping to be able to get back to work ASAP. 

And then there’s Andrew Jones. 

“I can’t sit on the phone with unemployment for hours at a time. It’s hard to get through to them sometimes,” he said.

Jones got his benefits in the summer of 2020 when a wallboard plant in Norfolk shut down. He found a new job a couple of months later. 

Everything was fine until he began to get notices that the VEC wants the money back – a total of more than $9,000. 

Right now Jones is on short-term disability with knee problems and says he doesn’t have $9,000 to spare.

“Any amount you ask of me I just don’t have right now,” he said.

10 On Your Side will let the VEC know about these two cases – and if you’re having a problem with unemployment contact us at