Florida man’s 3.5-year wait for unemployment benefits finally over

Fred Wicks has waited for unemployment benefits since March 2020

Fred Wicks, 76, of Palm Beach County, never imagined after 3.5 years that he would not only collect unemployment benefits owed since March 2020, but that the total would be more than triple the amount he had expected.

“You guys, I love you, I love you!” the Vietnam Vet exclaimed after reviewing his state reconnect account to see a total of more than $10,000 in state and federal unemployment benefits approved to be issued this week.

Wicks, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, was working remotely in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida as finance manager for the Big Rhino Company, a start-up advertising-marketing agency based in Peoria, Arizona.

Wicks said he started working for the company in 2017 but a lack of investors forced the owner to suddenly “cease operations” in March 2020, leaving him without a paycheck.

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He told News 6 he tried to get new employment but with the COVID epidemic forcing cutbacks and layoffs, he had to file for unemployment.

Wicks said it was not clear if he should file for benefits in Arizona or Florida.

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“In the beginning, it was very frustrating,” Wicks said. “I had some hardships, I had to downsize my house, but as time went on it became more of an issue of something’s really drastically wrong here.”

It was determined that he was eligible for benefits in Florida but even after he filed for 12 weeks of unemployment coverage there were delays.

In December 2022, he filed and won mediation for a full 12 weeks of state unemployment benefits of $3,300, but as of last week, he had not received a dime.

News 6 presented his documents to Florida Commerce in Tallahassee and within 4 days his reconnect account was updated to reflect approved payments of state and federal benefits for more than $10,000.

“Almost 4 years of frustration and struggle and boom here we go,” an elated Wicks told News 6 Tuesday afternoon, “… Not only did you get results, but you got it fast, I really applaud you for helping whoever it is that you help because you do a fantastic job!”

If you have a consumer or unemployment issue email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words make ends meet along with your email and issue to 407-676-7428.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.