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Mt. Morris woman awaiting unemployment benefits for a year told she isn’t eligible

Carolyn Wallace-Smith of Mt. Morris is unable to draw unemployment benefits because the...
Carolyn Wallace-Smith of Mt. Morris is unable to draw unemployment benefits because the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency believes her local house cleaning business operated out of state.(source: WJRT)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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MT. MORRIS, Mich. (WJRT) - Unemployment benefits are a lifeline for millions of Americans, but a Mt. Morris woman said she hasn’t seen a dollar for over a year.

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency initially told Carolyn Wallace-Smith that she’s eligible for benefits, but recently reconsidered and told her she actually is not eligible.

She ran her own cleaning company, but COVID-19 stopped her from working. So she filed for benefits, called, hoped and prayed that the stars would align for her receive payments.

“It is really frustrating because that shows to me that there is no reliability or accountability in the system -- a system that should work for the American people,” Wallace-Smith said.

She recently received a letter from the state saying she doesn’t qualify for unemployment benefits because her cleaning company isn’t located in Michigan. However, Wallace Smith has the documentation from the IRS stating the business has operated in Michigan since 2016.

She has no idea where the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency got information suggesting her business operated outside the state.

Wallace-Smith said the stress of the entire situation is mounting. It eats at her every morning when she wakes up until her head hits the pillow at night.

She’s able to see a counselor, which helps, but she worries about her mortgage, her bills, her ability to survive financially. She works part time as a housekeeper, but that only gets her so far.

“I just pray that they can see what I’m going through and understand the frustration that I am feeling as an American citizen and address me,” Wallace-Smith said.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, which includes the unemployment agency, told ABC12 News on Thursday that officials are looking into Wallace-Smith’s claim.

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