Single mom forced to leave son with family as her unemployment benefits stop amid COVID-19 pandemic

Furloughed IHOP waitress says DEO unable to find missing PEUC benefits

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Lindsey Bates lost her job as a server with an Orlando IHOP in early March and like thousands of other unemployed workers in Florida and across the country her chase for unemployment benefits has become a never-ending cycle of delays and disappointment.

Bates said it took 60 days for her first state unemployment check to arrive and now that the 12-week benefit cycle is complete she has been waiting for the emergency pandemic funds to show up on her state-issued debit card.

Her records show she has already received two payments from the PEUC but she told News 6 she received one payment on her debit card and nothing after that.

“Getting the card company to contact the DEO is like pulling teeth,” she told News 6 Wednesday,” I’m losing sleep and the worst thing is not having my son with me.”

She gave temporary custody of her 4-year old son Michael to her mother as she grapples with life without a job and the uncertainty of the Department of Employment Opportunity.

“I miss him so much,” she said, “I try to see him as much as I can.”

State Representative Anna Eskamani (D) of Orlando represents Bate’s district and has opened channels with the DEO to resolve unemployment issues through a custom escalation form.

“We submit cases to the DEO in bulk every day, Eskamani told News 6, “DEO typically will call that person one on one so you fix the issue and get their payments to them.”

Eskamani is quick to point out that she does not have a perfect batting average sometimes taking four or five times before the cases get the needed attention from the DEO.

Eskamani said she has helped people from the Panhandle to the Keyes and that it usually takes two to threes weeks to have the funds sent.

If you would like to help Lindsey Bates and her son or you have an unemployment issue email us at

If you would like to file an escalation form through Rep. Eskamani, go to this link.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.