Single mother waiting 2 years for state unemployment benefits

Make Ends Meet, DEO work to help Tallahassee nursing assistant

LaTonya Spencer never imagined she would be forced to file for unemployment and wait two years to receive the benefits for which she was eligible.

LaTonya Spencer never imagined she would be forced to file for unemployment and wait two years to receive the benefits for which she was eligible.

Spencer told News 6 that her post-COVID financial struggle has been slowed by sporadic work hours and a two-year delay in state unemployment benefits.

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“Each time I called (the DEO) for the last two years, it was always a different answer or I didn’t get a clear answer at all,” she said.

The Tallahassee nursing assistant said she lost her job because of COVID and is still struggling to “catch up” financially.

“I was laid off around March 2020,” Spencer said. “I was due to start another job, but I never did a new-hire orientation because they were afraid to let new people in due to COVID.”

Spencer told News 6 she has specialized in assisting the elderly in their homes since she was 17 years old.

Now, at 28, the mother of two is trying to regroup, working to make ends meet.

“It was just hard to get work as a health care professional,” she told News 6 “At my current job, one week I get 35 hours then I am down to six hours. I have six hours this week.”

Make Ends Meet sent Spencer’s records to the DEO reemployment team to sort out why her account, listed as active and eligible, had not released the 15 weeks of benefits from 2020.

DEO Press Secretary Leigh McGowan said the team is reviewing Spencer’s financial status.

Spencer said she was grateful for the help from News 6.

“So far you guys have been wonderful trying to help me get this resolved,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do or where to turn.”

McGowan updated News 6 on the Spencer case Friday morning and indicated the agency is “working to address the adjudication issues related to her claim that may be causing a delay in payment. Over the next few days, DEO will continue to assist Ms. Spencer with processing her claim.”

DEO encourages all Floridians to report any claims under review to the Reemployment Assistance Help Center.

If you have an unemployment issue, email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com.


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.