GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A woman who worked inside the Kentwood Sam’s Club is still having issues with her unemployment claim.
She’s waited more than a year for any payments. After not getting anywhere with the agency herself, she reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers.
“I’ve gotta pay off a few of my debts, and I kinda wanted to look for another car,” said Janice Higley.
She’s waiting on more than $20,000 from Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
The 80-year-old could really use the money as she’s been out of a job now for more than a year.
“They told our supervisor that we no longer could do demos because of the pandemic,” she said.
Janice has worked for Crossmark inside the Sam’s club on 28th Street for about 10 years. She’s one of the smiling faces greeting people and handing out samples.
“Pizzas, candy, lots of different things,” she said. “Coffee too. We did a lot of coffee and tea.”
When the pandemic hit, Janice got laid off, and she quickly filed for unemployment.
“I did it years and years ago but never had a problem with it,” she said.
This time around there has been nothing but issues. At 80 years old, it is not the stress she needs to deal with. She has also had to only rely on her social security.
“Very flustrating, yes; you keep, you know, trying to get through to them and just--yeah, seems like they’re always telling you lies,” she said. “A couple months ago I was told it was in the final stages and I’d be getting a check soon; well that never happened.”
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“I really started by filing her claim back in March,” said her son Alan Higley.
He helped his mom certify weekly as well, constantly checking her account.
Over the course of a year, her MIWAM said several things from “Processed Pending Payment” to “No Payment Issued.”
Alan also emailed the agency on MIWAM several times asking for updates, but tells me no one has ever replied.
Even when he calls or chats online, it’s a different response every time.
“It’s been really frustrating,” he said. “I have a full-time job, and I’m trying to help out and do these things in any downtime I have. But just to get ahold of somebody at the UIA is an hour-or-two process.”
READ MORE: Big Rapids business owner gets $21,000 from UIA after FOX 17 contacts agency
To add to the stress, Janice got COVID at the end of November and ended up staying in the hospital for several weeks.
She had to be on oxygen for a bit following her release.
“And it was very serious,” she said. “I didn’t have to go on a respirator, but it would’ve probably been the next thing.”
“Definitely taken her a long time to recover to be able to do something like this and be able to get out because the COVID-19 just affects the lungs and the respiratory system so much,” said Alan.
After Janice and Alan got nowhere with the agency, they reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers for help.
“When I was watching Channel 17, I’ve seen how you’ve helped other people and other people have been on TV and stuff and most of them have gotten their money,” she said.
The waiting game continues. If someone from the UIA happens to see this story, Janice has this message:
“I would like to tell them that they shouldn’t be telling us stuff that they’re not gonna follow through on,” she said. “And to me, some of it’s just been lies.”
Janice tells me she heard from her boss, and it sounds like they’ll be able to go back to work on June 1.
After FOX 17 reached out to the UIA, Janice got a call from the agency and says she’s set to be paid on Friday.
We’ll follow this story and bring you updates.
SEE MORE: UIA director: 'If a claimant is eligible for benefits, then we pay them their benefits'