MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Casey Thorner operated a prosperous home cleaning service in Marion County until COVID-19 created a wave of cancellations and forced her to file for unemployment benefits with the Department of Economic Opportunity.
“It was like my whole world shut down,” Thorner told News 6 from her Ocala home. “It was pretty much, ‘I don’t want you getting me sick.’”
The lost income forced the mother of three into a surprise records battle with the DEO that started in May and has continued into October.
She said it is all predicated on what appears to be bad information regarding her earnings in 2019.
“I filled out my (unemployment) application, obviously I put this is how much I made,” she said. “That did not transfer into the DEO system so they are claiming I have zero dollars.”
Thorner told News 6 she has been trying to prove she paid income taxes in 2019 and should be eligible for state jobless benefits.
She said every time she called the DEO, an employee would promise to have “an answer next week.”
“It’s been next week for a lot of weeks now,” a frustrated Thorner said. "It’s under review.”
News 6 reviewed Thorner’s 2019 tax records and confirmed she reported $16,000 in earnings and $2,400 paid in income tax.
News 6 presented the records to the DEO’s Tallahassee office last week in an attempt to move the account review along.
DEO Press secretary Paige Landrum issued the following statement to News 6:
“While we cannot comment on specific claims, I can let you know that this is currently being reviewed by our Reemployment Assistance team.”
Thorner said she understands the backlog the agency staff is facing during the COVID-19 economic fallout and she understands she is not the only one trying to get financial help.
"There are great people at the DEO just as frustrated as we are, Thorner told News 6. “They want to help but their hands are tied.”
If you have an unemployment issue, email News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld and his team at firstname.lastname@example.org.