Metter woman reflects on tough year as she waits for unemployment benefits

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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METTER, Ga. (WTOC) - More than a year into the pandemic, many unemployed Georgians are still waiting for payments.

A woman in Metter is facing many challenges as she waits for her benefits.

“I cried this morning. I mean, I am just down to the end of my line.”

Like many unemployed Georgians, Karen Dixon has lost hope.

“I can’t pay my car payment. I have borrowed from everybody I could borrow from; I’m tapped out with borrowing. My emotional, my mental health is a mess,” Dixon said.

An early version of this story reported that Dixon was laid off. However, like many Georgians, she was not able to work due to the restaurant closing at the beginning of the pandemic. When it reopened, she chose not to return due to safety reasons.

It’s important to note that Dixon still qualifies for unemployment.

She was receiving payments until the end of January, when she was asked to verify her identity on ID.Me. A tool launched by the Georgia Department of Labor to prevent fraud.

“It says it went through,” she said.

Yet it is May, and Dixon says she still hasn’t received a payment and is owed thousands.

“It’s like getting a weekly paycheck and tell you ‘Sorry, we can’t pay you,’ but nobody is telling me sorry they can’t pay me,” Dixon said.

The lack of communication from the Department of Labor is what Dixon says is frustrating. She calls every day starting at 8 a.m.

“I’m drowning. If I could just talk to somebody,” Dixon said.

WTOC spoke with the Georgia Department of Labor about Dixon’s case, and a spokeswoman says there’s an “identity stop” on her account, which is a unique issue.

The integrity unit is now working with Dixon to solve it. The Department of Labor says there’s additional information that needs to be verified before the identity stop is taken off her account and payments are released.

A spokeswoman for the agency said there are still claims waiting to be paid out but could not give an exact number. However, she says it is a low percentage, as the DOL reported, since March 2020 more than 99 percent of eligible claimants received payments.

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