‘I can’t turn on my heat because I don’t have money to pay for it’: Suffolk mom still waiting for unemployment benefits

Posted at 4:54 PM, Jan 02, 2022

SUFFOLK, Va. – After months of waiting, Lourdes Iglesias says she simply can’t do it anymore.

“It’s been a very difficult road,” she said. “I’ve called them every single day.”

Iglesias said the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) owes her several weeks of Unemployment benefits. That was seven months ago now.

“I’m sorry your system wasn’t working right,” Iglesias said. “That’s not on me; that’s on you, but don’t make me suffer.”

As a single mother with bills mounting, she says it’s been tough.

“I’ve explained it’s getting cold now,” said Iglesias. “I can’t turn on my heat because I don’t have money to pay for it.”

Before the pandemic hit, Iglesias was working as a personal care assistant with a healthcare agency.

She said she was in between jobs when she was approved for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of benefits and was extended for several more weeks.

Before the VEC upgraded its online system in November, the Suffolk mom said it was nearly impossible to get answers over the phone.

“It was very hard,” Iglesias said. “I couldn’t get through. Busy, busy, busy.”

She’s filed an appeal but said customer care reps still can’t help her. She said they only tell her repeatedly that her case is pending.

“I’m like, ‘How long is it going to be pending?” They don’t know,” said Iglesias. “It’s the same thing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.”

The spokeswoman for the VEC Joyce Fogg told News 3 she’s going to personally call Iglesias to help her with her case when she’s back in the office later this week. News 3 will follow up and report the outcome.

Related: VEC's temporary shutdowns add to frustration for claimants