CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - After weeks of frustration, some North Carolinians finally started receiving unemployment benefits from the federal program Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Brian Washington is one of them.
“I gave up,” Washington told WBTV. “I was going to call them (finance company) and tell them to take the car. I was tired of stressing about the car and it’s just hard to not stress when you’re behind on everything.”
Washington took a leave of absence from his job at Atrium Health because he’s high-risk.
He filed for unemployment more than a month ago but his benefits were exhausted after one $200 check.
For weeks, Washington said he got wasn’t able to get a response from the North Carolina Division of Employment Security, but finally, he received a direct deposit unemployment benefit of $2,800.
“This came at the perfect time because we are way behind on everything with everybody in the house being out of work,” Washington said.
He’s not alone.
So far, DES reports paying nearly $49 million in claims for the PUA program.
“My husband sent me a text message and said it hit the bank and I was like yes!” Alicia Turner told WBTV.
Turner was furloughed from her job at an early childhood center. Like Washington, she was originally denied unemployment in North Carolina but was later told she qualified for PUA benefits.
“They were able to get me marked ineligible and then I was able to get the federal funding that opened up last week,” Turner said.
Washington and Turner had to be marked ineligible in order to receive federal funding.
Both applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance on April 25 when it opened.
Both also filed weekly certifications with the state so when the check came it made up for the weeks they missed.
“I mean, I’ve been out of work almost a month before I even got somebody on the phone that had anything positive to say,” Turner said.
Both say the process was painstaking and at times hopeless but they say they’re the lucky ones.
“I have friends and family that are still working through the system there’s just so many, there’s just not enough people to check all the right boxes for everybody,” Turner said.