Return to work mistake stops single mom’s unemployment benefits for 16 weeks

News 6, DEO work to get $6,200 released

ORLANDO, Fla. – Alexandra Castellanos has been unemployed since April 2020 but for some reason the state’s unemployment records had her back to work and on the payroll with a New Jersey mortgage company.

“Get-a-Rate, Pay-a-Rate, I didn’t even know what it was,” she said. ”When I looked it was a company I never worked for or applied to.”

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The single mom lives with her daughter in Orlando and had been waiting for benefits for 16 weeks when she called News 6 for help.

“It’s really frustrating. It’s depressing,” she said. “I mean, there were days when I couldn’t sleep.”

News 6 ran a check of the company and confirmed Get-A-Rate LLC is a mortgage company with headquarters in Hackensack, New Jersey.

According to the company website, it has offices in 11 states including in Miami.

It is not clear why her name was associated with the mortgage company.

DEO records show Castellanos started receiving jobless benefits starting in April 2020 without issue until payments suddenly stopped on Oct. 24, 2020.

News 6 contacted the Department of Economic Opportunity in Tallahassee and within a few days, $6,200 was deposited in her bank account.

“Honestly if it weren’t for you, this wouldn’t be happening,” she said.

DEO Director Dane Eagle has launched a push to revamp the Connect System, proposing an investment of more than $30 million for fiscal year 2021-22.

Eagle said that would include the addition of more than 400 new adjudicators to review “complicated” unemployment issues.

“A lot of the problems (adjudicators) have in general are complicated claims,” Eagle said. “We are going to be meeting with the House and Senate and make sure we have everything they need going forward.”

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