123 business owners and contractors in Vermont who have applied for disaster unemployment compensation as a result of the July floods have not received any payments yet. The unemployment assistance is available to individuals whose employment was affected by the disaster but who are not eligible for regular unemployment assistance. Shannon Bates, owner of Enna restaurant in Montpelier, is one of the business owners who have not received any payments. She called the Vermont Department of Labor and sent multiple emails before getting in touch with someone who told her they were handling her case. However, Bates never heard back from them, despite leaving voice messages. She recently learned that she was not even in the system and received an email stating that her application had been denied because she had not provided the necessary information. The delay in payments is attributed to a lack of support from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Vermont Department of Labor requested funding to hire a private contractor to build an online application, but it was denied reimbursement. The department is now working with the Vermont Agency of Digital Services to enable the filing of claims for disaster unemployment assistance. Initially, people were able to apply online, but the website was taken down due to fraudulent claims. Now, all applications must be done over the phone. Applicants must first apply for regular unemployment and indicate that they lost their job due to the flooding. If they are business owners or independent contractors, their application is moved to disaster unemployment assistance. Staff members handle the initial application and request documentation for determining the benefit level. The maximum benefit is $750 a week, and applicants have 21 days to provide the necessary documentation. Vince Muraco, owner of the Hippie Chickpea restaurant, has also not received any payments. He was told to go to a website to make weekly claims but was unable to do so because the website only accepts claims for regular unemployment assistance, which he has already been denied. The Department of Labor and the Agency of Digital Services have recently developed the weekly claims process for disaster unemployment assistance and have begun informing individuals of how much they will be collecting. The first payments are expected to be processed next week. The deadline for Vermonters to apply for disaster unemployment assistance has been extended until September 29, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.