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Unemployment woes bring tears of frustration for Mt. Morris woman

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 5:07 PM EDT
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MT. MORRIS, Mich. (WJRT) - A Mt. Morris woman is shedding tears of frustration and anger trying to receive desperately needed unemployment benefits.

Carolyn Wallace-Smith said she has the paperwork to prove she’s eligible. She now wants the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency to live up to its word.

”Every week, I find myself battling a war over the phones and taking notes,” Wallace-Smith said. “I’ve called from the White House to my house.”

She is sick and tired of being sick and tired. She’s anxious. She’s depressed. She wants answers as to why she hasn’t received any of her unemployment benefits, for which the state says she’s eligible.

Documentation Wallace-Smith has provided shows she’s at least entitled to receiving $160 a week in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits as of a couple months ago, but she hasn’t seen a penny.

“People should be responsible for what they say as far as their word,” Wallace-Smith said. “If you tell me I’m eligible for something, then I believe what you’re saying, especially if it’s in black and white.”

She is a widow of a World War II veteran, who passed away in 2014. In 2016, she started her own cleaning business, because she stopped receiving Veterans Affairs benefits.

But last year, the coronavirus pandemic kept Wallace-Smith out of work. She does work part time, but it’s not nearly enough to make ends meet for her.

“I’ve gotten no answers. None,” Wallace-Smith said. “I just feel like I’m given the shaft every time I call.”

She last called on Tuesday and spoke with a representative, but it still wasn’t the news she was hoping for. ABC12 News also tried calling the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency on her behalf Wednesday, but no messages were returned.

“They are working on the monetary part of it, that they are trying to make sure you get the proper allocation for the hours for the income you have lost and that’s basically where they leave it,” Wallace-Smith said.

She currently is attending counseling to cope with stress from the situation.

“I cannot take this,” Wallace-Smith said. “In everything you do, no one can give you service or adequate service. It’s crazy.”

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