ORLANDO, Fla. – Alicia Warren and Alexandra Marshall blame the Department of Economic Opportunity for leaving their families without thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits.
Warren, a single mother of three, told News 6 she earned about $184 at a temporary job with Manpower USA only to lose the job after a week.
“I just got a letter (from DEO) saying, ‘Congratulations on returning to work,’” Warren said. “I thought, Are you kidding me?’”
Finding work to fit her children’s schedule has been a challenge for the Orlando resident.
She said she was recently hired part-time at a local pizza restaurant but that the paycheck will not make up for the $3,000 plus in benefits on hold since Oct. 31, 2020 .
Warren said she has made dozens of calls to the DEO office in Tallahassee to release the funds but has never gotten her records adjusted.
“We’re both waiting but what are we waiting for?” Warren asked .
Alexandra Marshall said she applied for a job at a Goodwill center in the Bradenton area last year but was forced to give up the job after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Documents obtained by News 6 show Marshall was paid for four days of training but never returned to the full-time position.
“I’m on hold for two hours just to hear, ‘You’ll receive your payments, you have to give it some time,’” a frustrated Marshall said.
Marshall and her young children, a 3-month-old and a 4-year-old, are living with her mother while she waits for child care facilities to be available again in Manatee County.
“They stopped my payments since August of last year,” Marshall said. “Clearly they did not list my situation with Goodwill.”
BankRate.com’s senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said Marshall and Warren’s on-again, off-again employment story is not unique.
Hamrick said holding onto to a full-time job with benefits will be difficult despite Florida’s easing jobless claims.
“It’s not just being employed,” Hamrick said. “It’s being employed on a continuing basis and having some reliability of income.”
Hamrick said he expects the economy to improve by the summer in large part because of the anticipated increase in distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Hamrick cautioned the challenge to make ends meet will be tested by the deferred debt that is expected to come due once moratoriums for mortgage and rent expire in June.
“All the distress we are seeing out there will be measured in consumer debt and how budgets are going to be stretched,” Hamrick said.
News 6 sent both women’s records to the DEO in Tallahassee.
A spokesperson said the “reemployment team is reviewing the cases.”
According to the DEO, the National Database of New Hire (NDNH) crossmatch is a tool states use to determine if a claimant has returned to work. Employers report this information upon hire; if a claimant later quits or is discharged, the department has to review and investigate the matter to determine the claimant’s eligibility subsequent to that period of employment.
“Each claim must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and the department is working diligently to review all claims,” a spokesperson said.
If you have an unemployment issue, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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