Army vet fighting to get jobless benefits for friend calls Make Ends Meet for help

DEO, News 6 work to help Orlando woman get back $1K in benefits

ORLANDO, Fla. – Christina McConnell had no idea what the term “Review Duplicates“ meant until retired Army Sgt. Thomas Baker, a long-time friend, contacted News 6 and Make Ends Meet. The pair learned a similar request had been issued in July.

“We were able to get into the account, but it’s still saying locked,” Baker said. “I’m at a brick wall.”

The account had been locked since July with no way to gain access to an estimated $1,000 in unemployment funds McConnell needed to pay mounting bills.

Recovering from hip surgery, the furloughed restaurant worker asked Baker to help her navigate the Department of Economic Opportunity’s website.

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Unfortunately, the 17-year Army veteran was unable to get through to the DEO and contacted Make Ends Meet for help.

On Thursday, the long wait for benefits was resolved when the DEO reemployment team unlocked the account and made every week owed to McConnel available to claim.

Baker said McConnell had been reluctant to file for unemployment benefits until she was diagnosed with a degenerative bone disease.

“She just had major surgery too,” Baker said, “That’s when we really put in for the unemployment at the beginning of the year.”

Baker first contacted News 6 on Aug. 6. While his case was presented to the DEO that day, it was not resolved until Sept. 30.

DEO Director of Communications Emilie Oglesby said the “Review Duplicates” term simply means “the claimant has submitted a request. The team is working them (the cases) as quickly as possible.”

As of Sept. 28, the DEO has paid 2,422,866 claimants more than $31.7 billion. Over 5.7 million unique claims have been processed, representing 99.2% of unique claims submitted.

If you have an unemployment benefits issue, email 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.