Furloughed then fired: Single mom’s wait for jobless benefits may finally be over

News 6, State Rep. Mercado help escalate case to ‘eligible’ status

ORLANDO, Fla. – Christine Rama’s journey from furloughed to jobless may finally have a positive development after her status on the Department of Economic Opportunity website was changed Tuesday from pending to eligible.

“This morning I woke up to a change in my status,“ a cheerful Rama told News 6. “I’ll celebrate this small win today.”

The single mom was featured on News 6 a few weeks ago after she had learned her job with a vacation club had been eliminated and her unemployment benefits were still locked in active but pending status.

"It’s just a failed system,” the frustrated Rama told News 6. “It’s a complete cluster, it’s like a nightmare.”

Her 10-year-old son Caiden has asthma and she is struggling with Lupus a condition that recently flared up.

News 6 put her in touch with the office of State Rep. Amy Mercado, the representative in her district.

After two and a half weeks, Rama finally had some good news.

Tuesday she checked her status on the DEO website and saw it had been changed to eligible with monetary values in place -- something she said she had never seen during her 11 weeks of unemployment.

Her story caught the attention of News 6 viewers who sent $1,800 to the Make Ends Meet account in her name.

“It was such a Godsend and such a blessing,” she said. “That I eventually got in touch with you to tell my story, that was a huge help.”

She said the fight to get her account corrected was an emotional strain and even now she is not sure how long it will be until she sees funds in her account.

“There’s probably hundreds and hundreds going through the same thing I am going through and this is just not fair,” she said.

State Rep. Linda Stewart of Orlando said her office has experienced the same delays with so-called escalated constituent cases.

“They say they’ve gotten them and nothing happens," Stewart said last week. “We’ve done everything the DEO has asked and we’re still not getting a good response.”

"If the story can help somebody or motivate somebody in places that can really make changes needed, that would ultimately be my goal,” Rama said.

If you would like to help families like Rama’s or you have an unemployment issue, email us at makeendsmeet@wkmg.com.

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