Finally

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North Carolina man finally gets unemployment money

A 73-year-old man who lives in Avery County said he applied for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in May.

AVERY COUNTY, N.C. — A WCNC Charlotte Defenders investigation is learning about an older couple who was forced to ration their medicine while waiting for unemployment benefits.

A 73-year-old man who lives in Avery County said he applied for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in May. He was waiting five months with no answer. 

In the meantime, he said he and his wife were cutting spending, including on their prescription medicines.

Richard Warriner said every time he calls to talk to an agent with the North Carolina Department of Employment Security, he’s told his claim is good to go, which is why he’s confused about why he was waiting for several months with no payment.

RELATED: 709,000 seek US jobless aid as coronavirus pandemic escalates

“I don’t like living like this,” Warriner said. “You’re just like being a gerbil on a wheel and we’re not going anywhere.”

Warriner, who does medical schedules for a company in Minnesota, said he took a major pay cut in April when he was making $750 per week, which went down to $250 per week. Initially, he applied for regular unemployment benefits.

“As an independent contractor, I was deemed ineligible,” said Warriner.

Then he switched to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in May and waited months for an answer.  He said every time he talked to a DES agent, he asked the same question.

“Is there anything wrong with my file you can see?’ And every time everybody said ‘No, it looks great, you should be getting it’,” said Warriner.

In the meantime, Warriner said his refrigerator broke down.  He also said he and his wife were holding off on car repairs, and even rationing their prescription medications.

“Instead of taking two pills a day you take one, so you don’t have to refill it as often,” Warriner said.

Warriner said he has friends in other states who applied for unemployment benefits and were already paid.  In North Carolina, he doesn’t know what else to do to get his payment.

“They have a place on their website where you can update your documents which I have done, but I’m not sure anyone has looked at them,” said Warriner. “I suspect it’s the push of a button on a computer and it’s resolved.”

There has now been a major update to Warriner’s case within the past month.  He said his case was resolved after he contacted the Defenders team and he also reached out to a state representative who agreed to help.  Now, Warriner is getting his unemployment payments.

RELATED: Unemployment drops to 6.9% and US adds a solid 638,000 jobs


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