60-year-old Florida man turns to Make Ends Meet for help after losing job in Michigan

Longtime Indian River County employee receives $1700 in unemployment benefits

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. – At 60 years old, John Marlatt never imagined he would need to collect Florida unemployment benefits for a second time, especially since he landed a new construction job in Michigan.

Marlatt worked 19 years as a heavy equipment operator for Indian River County but was forced to resign as part of a sweeping cutback.

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He told News 6 he started collecting unemployment in July 2020 but quickly landed a job in Michigan that lasted into December.

Ironically, the weather shut down the project and he needed to go on unemployment again.

“I originally reapplied in Michigan, but Michigan’s unemployment office said no you have a case that’s open in Florida, so you have to go back to Florida,” Marlatt recalled.

Marlatt said the process to reapply with the Department of Economic Opportunity was made worse by long waits on the telephone and frustrating delays.

“I dotted every I and crossed every T,” Marlatt said. " Jumped through every hoop they threw in front of me.”

Marlatt said the financial pressure was mounting because he had just leased an apartment when he lost his job in Michigan.

“There was anxiety because I couldn’t pay my bills,” he said. “I was having to pull my credit cards and everything else to be able to make ends meet.”

Marlatt said his sister, who lives in Tennessee, sent him a link to a story about a man who received benefits from the DEO after contacting the Make Ends Meet team.

“At first I thought, ‘Well, I’m probably not going to get anywhere but at least somebody heard my story,’“ Marlatt said.

Make Ends Meet sent his story to the DEO’s reemployment team and within a few weeks $1,700 in benefits was deposited into his checking account.

“I can’t thank you enough,” Marlatt said. “You have meant the world to me by doing what you’ve done.”

DEO Communications Director Emilie Oglesby said the fastest way to get results is through the department’s reemployment assistance help center.

“If claimants are still missing payments they should utilize the help center,” Oglesby told News 6. “Inquiries received here get triaged to appropriate staff and resolved.”

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.