Exhausted Marylanders share unemployment stories

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Posted at 7:28 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 17:20:12-05

BALTIMORE — All week we’ve been telling you heartbreaking stories about people struggling with unemployment.

WMAR-2 News Eddie Kadhim has fielded dozens of emails and calls about your concerns.

He held a zoom with several people who have reached out.

On Tuesday, we did a story that showed one woman named Amanda Edwards who was able to get her overpayment status removed.

That came after months and email after email from Mallory Sofastaii to get the Department of Labor's attention.

Still, she isn’t getting the back pay owed and has more questions.

Here are some of the stories we have been hearing.

Dary Schmidt worked at a church for over 20 years and went on unemployment because of the pandemic.

“I’ve opted to try and call on many occasions tried to call unemployment and that’s just impossible, you can’t get through," Schmidt said.

James Lurz has 12 children and said if he doesn't get answers soon, his family may be put out on the streets.

Lurz filed for an extension and has called and emailed everyone he can find to figure out why he’s disqualified.

“I have no clue what to put," Lurz said. "I have no clue what to do, I’ve pretty much hit everyone I can. There’s income that’s going to be from back then and no one seems to tell me what to do. It’s going to be a corrected 1099 at that point.”

Communication is a huge issue that we covered this week.

SEE ALSO: Communication issues surrounding the Maryland unemployment line

The department has added 990 new employees and will continue to add employees.

Large overpayment balances showing up at the beginning of the year with no explanation is a common theme for many of them.

After 30 days if you don’t file a waiver claim, which they can’t get their hands on without the help of an unemployment agent— money starts coming out of their unemployment checks.

“I can’t justify with the paperwork that I’ve seen and the entires I just cannot justify why they are calling any type of overpayment," Schmidt said.

Teresa Brodsky has an overpayment balance of over $8,000.

She said she has tried everything to figure out why it is there.

“They’ve already taken out some of the amount that I’m getting right now to start to repay it," said Brodsky.

Cheryl Dennison has an overpayment of $5,356.

The single mother of two said she left her job to keep herself and her children safe, but now her unemployment checks are being dropped.

“It started out at $5,356 and just this week they took out $119 out of my benefit payment of $238," Dennison said.

Christine Cook has an overpayment balance of $2,944.

The former Baltimore County Schools employee has been out of work since March.

“They are saying I owe money and I haven’t even received the amount that they are saying I owe," Cook said. "I’m afraid to file taxes for fear that if I do get money back they are going to take it.”

Chante Long lives in DC, and was collecting unemployment there, but payments stopped because they found out she had some wages in Maryland.

Her application has been pending since September.

“When you call nobody really knows anything," Long said. "All they can do is escalate the ticket and that’s it so.”

Unemployment problems are the common thread pulling at all of their livelihoods.

“You’re not alone there’s a lot of us we’re all trying to get through," Dennison said.

Mallory and I have covered a laundry list of unemployment issues, and we will continue to press state officials to get answer for those who need them.

If you are having an issue reach out to us or fill out this form.