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Family of 6 living on father’s part-time wages as mom waits for unemployment benefits

'Locked' account under review after News 6, State Sen. Randolph Bracy get involved

ORLANDO, Fla. – Brandi Simmons and her family are holding on to hope and her husband’s part-time wages to cover the mortgage and car payments as the wait for her unemployment benefits goes into week 10.

“Our bills are just piling up one after the other,” the mother of four said. “It’s to the point where I cry daily.”

Simmons’ husband works for Sysco foods in Ocoee but because of cutbacks, his new paycheck is less than half of his original salary.

“We’re at risk of homelessness, we can’t pay our mortgage,” Simmons said. “I feel like the system is broken completely, it’s just so frustrating.”

Simmons was a district sales coordinator in Orlando for Sun-Pro, a solar panel company with headquarters in Louisiana. She was furloughed in March and has not been called back to work.

“When COVID-19 hit, we just couldn’t work anymore,” she said " They wouldn’t allow us.”

Her quest for jobless benefits from the Department of Economic Opportunity has been dead end after dead end.

She said she has already been asked to confirm her identification three times and just last week was told her account is pending and locked.

“As soon as I would get disconnected (on the phone), I would call right back,” a frustrated Simmons said. “The system is broken, you’d think after three months they would get it right.”

Simmons is also worried about her 2-year-old son who needs speech therapy and testing for autism.

News 6 contacted State Sen. Randolph Bracy (D) to escalate Simmons’ case with the DEO.

In an email to News 6, district senior legislative assistant Charlene Gatlin wrote: “Thank you for bringing this constituent concern to Senator Bracy’s attention. I have contacted Ms. Simmons directly, and have escalated her concern to our liaisons with the Department of Economic Opportunity. We are hopeful that DEO will find some resolution to her issue.”

If you would like to help Simmons and her family or you have an unemployment benefits issues, send an email to makeendsmeet@wkmg.com.


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