Unemployment benefits suspended after doing the right thing




Posted on March 9, 2010 at 12:33 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 9 at 12:33 AM

Thomas Good is a victim of our troubled economy. He was let go from his retail job at Macy's last year and now the Des Moines resident is depending on the check from Employment Security.

"We have a 2-and-a-half-year-old son, we have a newborn, 8 weeks old, there's a lot of pressure to really stay on top of things," he said.

Things aren't getting any easier for Thomas, while the job search continues.

"Just the frustration of trying to find work, it's a really difficult time right now," he said.

He has used up his six months of state benefits. In January, Thomas signed up for emergency unemployment compensation, a federal program which will extend his benefits for almost a year. Nine weeks later after many phone calls, there were no checks and no explanations.

"Right now it's our only source of income, and we've depleted our savings and we're getting into the credit cards now to stay on top of things."

Desperate for an answer, Thomas called us and we got his file moved to the top of the pile. We learned the holdup was over Thomas' volunteer work at a senior center.

"I had included that I had been doing volunteer work for senior services, which is a Group Health program, I just wanted something on my resume," he said.

In between job interviews, Thomas was shuttling residents from the center to doctors' appointments and just to be totally open and honest, he provided mileage sheets and reimbursement checks for fuel to the state.

However, Employment Security Department wasn't sure if Thomas was working or not.

Thomas Good: "I could have not listed it and I wouldn't be in this situation right now."

Jesse Jones: "But you were trying to do the right thing."

Thomas Good: "I was, yeah."

After hearing his explanation, the state budged and sent Thomas his check for all nine weeks in just a few days.

"Yeah, it's good, we can kind of move on from this now and maybe not make the same mistakes I made last time, I suppose?" he said.

The state says looking at the paperwork it appeared Thomas was working, but after a single phone call all of the issues were cleared up.