DEO mistake leaves single mom facing unemployment with 2 kids and no benefits

Central Florida woman’s account corrected in 48 hours after turning to News 6 for help

April Kelly is caught in one of those honesty is the best policy messes so many of Florida’s unemployed have faced in the year of COVID-19.

ORLANDO, Fla. – April Kelly is caught in one of those honesty is the best policy messes so many of Florida’s unemployed have faced in the year of COVID-19.

The single mom applied for unemployment benefits when she was furloughed from her job in April but was forced to reapply when it was discovered her application was not in the system.

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“I kept going on (the Department of Economic Opportunity Connect site) to check my claim and nothing was showing up,” she said. “I filed online and received nothing.”

She was furloughed from her position with Sanford-based Total Marketing Concepts from April 6 to May 15 because of the COVID-19 economic downturn.

“Finally when I got through to somebody all the way in August, they tell me they can’t find my claim,” Kelly said.

She refiled for benefits in August but the DEO never adjusted the claim to reflect the weeks she was actually out of work.

So for most of the year, Kelly who has a newborn girl and a 5-year-old son, has been unable to collect the six weeks owed by the DEO.

“It shows that I have weeks available but I can’t claim those weeks,” a frustrated Kelly said. “If I do, it would be lying saying I was out of work for those weeks when I wasn’t.”

Ironically, she was just furloughed from the company a second time last week and she said she’s not sure if they will bring her back.

“They’ve pretty much furloughed the whole company again,” she said.

A DEO representative called her on Monday and was able to back date her unemployment file so she will be eligible to collect benefits for April and May.

In an email to News 6, she wrote in part: “This would not have happened if it were not for you - phone call after phone call and no results. I am so thankful for you, however, it is not right that it takes you from a news channel reaching out to help people get unemployment. The lady apologized multiple times and I understand it is not her fault, and they are busier than they have ever been, but people are losing their homes, and cannot feed their family, or even keep their water and electric on. "

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.