Unemployed grandmother to News 6: ‘You give us a voice’

DEO issues $8,500 in back-benefits following Make Ends Meet investigation

Anna Maria Brown’s long wait for unemployment benefits blocked because of a returned to work mix-up, finally ended last week when the Department of Economic Opportunity deposited more than $8,000 in back-benefits into her bank account.

“I’m so grateful and fortunate for you guys,” she said. “If I hadn’t emailed you I’d still be waiting.”

Brown’s dilemma was featured by “Make Ends Meet” in mid-July and four weeks later the former Miami dog groomer received two deposits of $500 and then $8,000 from the DEO.

“The system does work when you have people like you trying to help people like us,” Brown said. “You give us a voice.”

Brown is the latest success story in the DEO-News 6 partnership established to move cases to the right department and get results.

Since early July Make Ends Meet has helped unemployed Floridians recover more than $100,000 in benefits while the total benefits recovered since the inception of the franchise is well over $1.5 million.

Gregory McDonald, a permanently disabled delivery driver, contacted News 6 this week after the DEO issued a back-pay that was locked for 3 months.

In an email to me and Make Ends Meet McDonald wrote: “The total amount I have received so far is $3,535 in back benefits which will bring me current on my account. I am owed no more money. What a fantastic investigative journalist you are. Thank you!”

To date, the biggest unemployment issue being reported across the state is locked-out accounts.

News 6 is working with the DEO fraud division to vet the accounts and make sure the people asking for help really are who they say they are.

As we first reported in the Make Ends Meet Newsletter, of the 160,000 unemployment claims filed in July more than 113,000 were imposters intercepted by the DEO.

If you have an unemployment issue email: makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words 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.