Temporary job at pet clinic blocks Miami woman’s unemployment benefits

DEO account pending since December 2020

MIAMI – Anna Maria Brown’s unemployment benefits have been stuck in “pending status” because a five-day job with a Miami pet clinic last October triggered a returned to work status from the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“Just waiting, it’s just horrible,” the single grandmother said. “I spend sometimes whole days trying to get in touch with them (the DEO) then I’m on hold for two hours.”

Brown’s pending status is one of more than 3,000 total issues pending adjudication, according to the DEO’s latest accounts data.

The single grandmother has been forced to give up her home and move in with a friend after losing her job with a pet facility in Miami.

“It’s beyond frustrating staying at a place for three days that’s not yours, it’s very uncomfortable,” she said.

Brown contacted Make Ends Meet after every attempt to get assistance from the Department of Economic Opportunity failed.

A review of her current DEO account confirms her unemployment account is active and she is eligible for benefits.

So far she is owed $7,000 in back state and federal unemployment benefits.

Brown said she filled out a DEO questionnaire in December 2020 that was supposed to fast track her account .

The DEO has acknowledged receipt of the document but the account status is still listed as pending.

News 6 contacted the DEO’s reemployment team and Brown’s account is being reviewed.

We are also developing information about DEO accounts hacked by cyberthieves. It appears accounts are being infiltrated and altered.

On Tuesday, Make Ends Meet will feature a woman who says she got into a high-tech fencing match with her DEO account’s hijacker.

It appears the hijacker used the same code that was included in the revamped email.

The victim played a hunch and was able to use that code to access and change her account again.

That cat-and-mouse game took place 27 times over a few days. In the end, she was locked out and is now owed $6,000 in back benefits.

If you have an unemployment issue, email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text Make Ends Meet to 407-676-7428.

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.