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Domestic violence survivor depended on unemployment benefits to leave home, but never received it

“I feared for my life,” the survivor said. “I was actually going to depend on that money to get me out of that situation, and it never happened.”

It's no secret Florida’s unemployment system has been riddled with issues during the pandemic, and many Floridians who are still waiting on their benefits are at their breaking point.

“I’m at 24 weeks of benefits that are claimed benefits at zero or on hold,” said Kelly Myers.

After navigating the Department of Economic Opportunity’s hold ups and glitches since March, Myers is officially homeless.

“I wasn’t even able to buy food for myself,” Myer said.

While Myers waited on her unemployment payments, she says she was enduring domestic violence where she was living.

“I feared for my life,” Myers said. “I was actually going to depend on that money to get me out of that situation, and it never happened.”

Myers said her abuser went to jail, and she is living at a shelter. Myers said in a few weeks, she’ll no longer be allowed to stay there.

“Once I’m done with that, I don’t even have a car to stay in,” Myers said.

When Myers was approved for benefits in June, U.S. Department of Labor statistics shows only about 22 percent of applicants received their first benefit payment within three weeks.

She received that one payment, but none since.

Myers is having issues with the department putting holds on her account, a glitch caused by when she tried to go back to work part time, but had to leave her job again because of the virus.

Myers said she’s in a high-risk category for COVID-19 as she’s had open heart surgery and is having trouble finding work-from-home jobs.

Now, she said she is owed about $5,000 in state benefits, which doesn’t include backpay of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) $600 payments.

If Myers receives the money she’s owed, she could put a roof over her head. She’s praying it will come before it’s too late.

“Being told one thing and that it’s being taken care of, then coming back weeks later with another problem, it’s difficult,” Myers said.