10 On Your Side partners with Beach lawmaker to solve unemployment problems

Virginia Politics

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — You’ve told us about your hassles with filing for unemployment — not being able to talk with a live person, knowing what supporting documents to send, finding out the status of your claim.

We’ve referred about a hundred viewers to Sen. Bill DeSteph, (R-Virginia Beach). He and his staff were able to use their connections at the Virginia Employment Commission to move many of those cases from frustration to satisfaction.

One of our referrals from Norfolk wasn’t going to wait around.

“He rode a bicycle from Norfolk to my office, and we were actually able to get him through the system, get him resolved and a check within two weeks,” DeSteph said.

Another referral, who wanted to remain anonymous, left DeSteph a voicemail: “You helped me and my family out and that means the world to me, man.”

“Within a week, I had the back pay and the correct pay,” said James McWilliams, who was furloughed from a local restaurant.

“(DeSteph’s office) forwarded my information to the employment commission and from that point I was able to talk to somebody,” said Pete Dekker, who lost his job as a mechanical engineer.

10 On Your Side Investigative Producer Adrienne Mayfield began rounding up those complaints and referred them to DeSteph.

“I hadn’t really even thought about going to the senator. So that was an awesome idea of hers,” McWilliams said.

DeSteph says the partnership has been a different level of constituent service.

“You’re talking with somebody sitting there at home doing what the governor said, doing what the president said, and they’re just like okay, I’m desperate what do I do here, help me out,” he said.

DeSteph would handle some cases on his own, but says the vast majority were the work of staffer Jill Eyler.

“We personally work with the VEC to make sure that that person’s taken care of, and we track them all the way through.”

He says getting people results with their claims raises their morale.

“It enables them to put food on the table, pay their bills and get by at a time of a national crisis,” DeSteph said.

“It made it happen a lot quicker than it would have (without the help),” McWilliams said.

“We’ve received over a hundred folks, and I think it’s great working with WAVY Channel 10 and getting things done,” DeSteph said.

“They ended up back-paying me to the very first day that I applied,” Dekker said.

With the second round of benefits now kicking in — the Pandemic Unemployment Act for people who were denied conventional unemployment — we are seeing fewer people having problems.

But remember you can contact us and we will get your case to DeSteph’s office.


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