Unemployed wait for answers

Posted March 8, 2010 4:27 p.m. EST
Updated March 8, 2010 9:15 p.m. EST

— North Carolina's Employment Security Commission has paid out more than $6 billion to about 600,000 people in the past 16 months, officials said Monday.

The demand coupled with changes to the benefits system has created problems for some recipients. 

Stephanie Modugno, of Raleigh, has been out of work for more than eight months.

“There’s just not enough jobs out there,” Modugno said. “Even to get a part-time job, it’s hard. I’ve tried.”

Two weeks ago, Modugno said her unemployment benefits ran out.

“You feel like you’re in the dark. You don’t know what’s going on. It’s not fair,” she said.

Modugno said she expected to qualify for extended benefits. She has checked her status online and contacted the claims department, but said she has received no answers.

On Monday, she went to a local branch of the ESC and received an appointment nearly two weeks away to speak with a representative.

“There’s no reason I shouldn’t have an answer. If you’re not gonna give it to somebody, then don’t. Let me know,” Modugno said.

Bill Dolton, of Cary, has also been waiting to hear from ESC. He got a letter this past weekend stating they overpaid him $780.

Dolton has lived for two years on unemployment checks. Most of the money, he said, goes to pay child support. Dolton was hoping the letter was a qualification notice for the next tier of unemployment.

Dolton has recently cut out most expenses and moved in with his mother. “I am fortunate to have a roof over my head,” he said.

David L. Clegg, deputy chairman and chief operating officer of the agency, said thousands of recipients have been overpaid. Some are the result of fraud and filing errors, but many are computer issues, he said.

Clegg said one of the weeks people received benefits for was not a full week.However, people were paid for a full week.

The system will offset itself when they go into another tier of benefits, Clegg said.