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Furloughed Disney employee says DEO delay has him on financial brink

Epcot restaurant server says unemployment benefits have been 'locked' since April 8

ORLANDO, Fla. – Brannen Perry is about to lose his car, his apartment and “everything he worked for” after the Department of Economic Opportunity failed to release his unemployment benefits.

“My account is locked,” a dejected Perry told News 6. " I need to speak to a (DEO) specialist but I’m starting to believe those specialists don’t actually exist.”

Perry graduated from George-Jenkins High School in Lakeland then moved to Orlando and spent the past 11 years as a server at Epcot’s Garden Grill restaurant .

“This is the first time in my life I have been embarrassed to be a Floridian,” Perry said. “I’ve gone above and beyond to address this situation to save my life but nothing I do helps.”

Perry’s jobless claim has been listed as pending since April 8 without explanation.

He said when he called for an explanation or an update on why the funds had not been released, he was told his information had been “verified” but that the account was still locked.

“I don’t think I’ve cried more in my life. I’m very stressed out. It’s been very, very rough for me,”he said.

Perry lives in District 15 represented by State Sen. Victor Torres (D) .

Torres said the DEO staff members have been caught in a system never designed to handle demand to deliver unemployment checks.

“If they have all his information then why would you tell a person you’re locked? That doesn’t answer the question: how can you unlock it?” Torres asked.

Perry is one of dozens of Disney employees still waiting for jobless benefits to be released.

The entertainment giant sent the names of an estimated 40,000 furloughed employees to the DEO and while many moved through the system without a hitch, others have been stuck in “pending” status for months.

“Let’s face facts, this falls on the leadership,“ Torres said Thursday. “We will work for him (Perry). Definitely there’s a lot of people hurting.”

Perry said he is grateful for what News 6 and Torres have done to bring the unemployment issues to DEO supervisors.

“I appreciate you,” he told News 6. “Sadly this has become reality for me, it’s become a complete nightmare and I’m ready to wake up from it.”

If you would like to help Perry or you have an unemployment issue, email us: makeendsmeet@wkmg.com


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