CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development hired extra workers to handle the tens of thousands of state residents filing for unemployment benefits.
But many people have waited for months to get their checks. In Campbell County, a woman lost her job in late spring — because she was sick.
Without a check or health insurance, her bills piled up and she couldn’t pay her rent.
She called WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare who visited her this week; after first talking with Christie Hill yesterday afternoon, he called the state Labor Department about her situation — as she may have cancer.
Late Tuesday morning, the state got in touch with her. Nothing is definite, but there’s a glimmer of hope.
Unemployed for months, Hill didn’t have enough money to pay rent on her apartment, So, recently, the 47-year divorced mother with two daughters, moved in with her mother.
Christy lost her job at a meat packing plant in May due to illness. Her dismissal letter says “termination due to attendance.” In other words, she was sick too often.
“I started having lots of lower back pain for a couple of months. Then, one night some serious, serious back pain,” Hill shared.
Without a job, Christie also lost her health insurance. Not wanting to depend on unemployment, she got another position in June.
“On the last day there, I got sick, collapsed and had to go to the emergency room. That’s when I – they found out it was not my back, but rather I had large ovarian cysts rupturing in me,” she said.
Now out of work, Hill filed for unemployment benefits.
“I started filing in June, but glitches continued and would never allow me to finish my information. So, somebody said try calling,” Hill said.
She called the state career center in Jacksboro in order to contact the Labor Department in Nashville.
“So they gave me a number, I dialed it for many many days and finally did get through with someone and he set it up for me on August 14,” she said.
Finally, she registered with the state for unemployment, but it only says in-progress. Now, unfortunately, time is not in her favor.
“I had to jump through hoops with no health insurance,” Hill said. “They’re afraid it’s ovarian cancer. I’m using Cherokee Health Systems, they have been wonderful. And, Interfaith Church, they’ve helped. Even with these bills, they do help. I had to pay large deposits and I cashed out my 401(k).”
We told the state Labor Department about Christie’s situation. In less than a day, there’s been a response.
“I received two emails today,” Hill said on Tuesday. “They are asking for a letter from my treating doctors at the time I became unemployed. ‘This is a 48-hour request for additional information.'”
Hill plans to contact her doctor immediately and is keeping her fingers crossed.
“I’m hopeful that it will help now … but still skeptical,” she said.
If she does get a check, it may be for several thousand dollars – which is money she’ll use to catch up on her medical bills.
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