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Unemployment benefits still not coming for Mt. Morris woman

Carolyn Wallace-Smith believes she qualifies for PUA benefits, but the state says otherwise
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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MT. MORRIS, Mich. (WJRT) - Some people still haven’t seen a cent of unemployment benefits months after applying.

The struggle is real for one Mt. Morris Township woman, who believes she qualifies for benefits but is having a hard time getting the state to pay out.

Carolyn Wallace-Smith is a go getter, a fighter and a believer that someday she will get the unemployment benefits she’s owed from the state. Documentation from the state shows she was eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits last year, then she was told she was ineligible.

She was told that her business appeared to operate out of state, which she denies.

“I’m actually depressed, but my spirituality is what keeps me going,” Wallace-Smith said. “I have anxiety attacks. I’m actually still in counseling at the Ennis Center.”

She ran her own cleaning business, but the coronavirus pandemic put her out of work. So Wallace-Smith has spent hours on the phone talking to numerous people, trying to get answers for why she hasn’t seen any of her benefits.

Wallace-Smith calls the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency a broken system.

“And really, the overall governmental system for the people, and that’s what makes the world go around -- the middle class people -- but they are the ones that get screwed at the end,” she said.

According to The Century Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, Michigan’s unemployment issues go back about 10 years to former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, when the state was trying to root out fraud and essentially created a system that treated claimants like suspects.

Michigan’s unemployment staff was cut by one-third, which only complicated the situation once the coronavirus pandemic reached the state in March 2020 and the system was inundated with claimants.

Wallace-Smith plans to keep fighting the good fight with the hope her hard work will one day pay off.

“I think it’s a joke to take people through this, you know people that deserve it,” she said. “I think it’s a joke.”

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency again did not return messages seeking comment about Wallace-Smith’s claim.

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