Unemployed counselor’s benefits stopped because of 3-hour job

DEO and News 6 help release $8,000 in benefits for struggling father of 2

Peter McCarthy was desperate when he took on a one-day counseling session in Miami in December but he never imagined that three-hour session would stop his weekly unemployment benefits for nearly five months.
Peter McCarthy was desperate when he took on a one-day counseling session in Miami in December but he never imagined that three-hour session would stop his weekly unemployment benefits for nearly five months.

MIAMI, Fla. – Peter McCarthy was desperate when he took on a one-day counseling session in Miami in December but he never imagined that three-hour session would stop his weekly unemployment benefits for nearly five months.

The rehabilitation counselor and father of two has been out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic outside of the one off counseling job late last year.

“I start to feel like what are you doing as a father,” McCarthy said. “Not having any income coming in it wears and tears on you for sure.”

McCarthy told News 6 he was depending on his mother’s retirement funds to cover bills including food and rent. Ironically, he was unable to qualify for rent assistance in Miami because of his mother’s kindness.

“They think I have boat loads of money but no I’m draining my mom’s 401K,” he said.

The father of two sons -- Gabriele, 3 years old and Abraham, 8months -- has been trying to reinvent himself recently earning his real estate license.

Records obtained by News 6 confirm he worked for the O’Connor Professional Group as a counselor on December 20, 2020 . That 3-hour session triggered a returned to work status with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity that left him without benefits most of this year.

McCarthy said he tried to correct the misunderstanding but was unable to talk to the right people.

“They’re secret agents,” he said. “Nobody can talk to them, (or) email them.”

He contacted News 6 Make Ends Meet for help and we presented his case to the DEO reemployment team.

Within 48 hours more than $8,000 in state and federal benefits were deposited into his bank account.

“It’s funny how you read somebody else’s article, send out an email in hopes that something will happen and boom here we are,” McCarthy said. “I mean I can’t thank you enough, that was great.”

McCarthy said he has received inquiries for work and is very close to starting a new job.

If you have an unemployment issue email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com and sign up for the weekly Make Ends Meet newsletter here.


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.