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Tampa woman with diabetes struggles to get unemployment benefits

Listed as eligible since April 12 her jobless benefits have never been paid

TAMPA – A Tampa furniture salesperson with roughly five years on the job and fired 10 days before she was supposed to return to work is still waiting for state unemployment benefits that were approved April 12, 2020.

Patricia Pfenning told News 6 she has been waiting for state unemployment benefits for more than 10 weeks even though the Department of Economic Opportunity approved her application for a full $3,300 in jobless benefits.

“I really don’t have any faith in the system anymore,” Pfenning told News 6,” People don’t realize it affects you in so many different ways.”

Pfenning said her savings are running low and her son, a business analyst in Tokyo would lose his status if he returned to the states to help her.

“We talk often but it really is hard,” she said, “when you’re locked up by yourself for months it isn’t easy.”

After being furloughed from her job in furniture sales she said her world started falling apart when she went from furloughed to jobless.

Pfenning worked with a major furniture chain since 2015 and was told she would be back on the job by April 30.

Although some staffers in the Tampa store were returned to work nearly half including Pfenning were told they were being cut as part of a restructuring mandate.

On April 20 she lost her job.

“There was really no rhyme or reason the way they did it, Pfenning told News 6, “I was expecting to go back.”

Her journey to track down her state benefits has been another chapter in the DEO’s accounts disconnect.

While thousands of Floridians are receiving unemployment benefits, there remains a significant number of people still waiting for those checks to arrive.

News 6 contacted state Senator Janet Cruz to help fast track Pfenning’s account to a DEO account supervisor.

A spokesperson responded writing in part:”We will assist her right away.”

News 6 has opened channels with state representatives in districts from the Panhandle to Orlando to Miami.

Each office has been willing to help constituents “fix” the problem.


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