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Elizabeth City woman shares unemployment success story

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Posted at 4:29 PM, Jun 04, 2020

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - Another week passes, and still millions are without a paycheck.

As more people continue to file initial unemployment, others, like Bridget Jernigan-Gregory, have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

The college student and single mother works as a full-time independent hair stylist. Considering her clients are individuals in assisted living facilities, she hasn't been able to work since March.

She immediately filed for unemployment, but said she has hit roadblock after roadblock. News 3 first spoke with Jernigan-Gregory back in May.

"I have sent out well over 110 emails, spent countless hours on the phone on hold, continued to be disconnected. It was very, very difficult to even be able to get through," she said.

However, after nearly 10 weeks without money, answers or hope, she stumbled across a Facebook page called "COVID-19 UNEMPLOYMENT SUPPORT." The group was created to connect people in North Carolina who are experiencing the same issues.

"This has been an avenue for people in the state that are going through [unemployment] or have been through it. There are people that are having questions even once they've been approved," she said.

One of the group members shared how they were able to get off hold and on the phone with an actual representative from the Division of Employment Security.

Bridget said, "They had had success when they changed the prompts that they selected [on the phone.] So instead of selecting the third prompt being for an active case, they actually selected the prompt to change your PIN number."

She tried it and soon enough, she heard a voice on the other end of the phone. She said she couldn't hold back tears.

DES explained why her claim had been pending for the last three months.

"It turns out, in fact, that nothing that I had done had caused any issues - it was an internal problem. It was in the system that she said they have been seeing over and over and over again," she said.

Once they were able to access her account, she was found ineligible and she was able to re-submit and finally get approved for unemployment.

In a matter of five days, she received her backpay.

She said her biggest piece of advice is to speak with people who have also dealt with the unemployment process and make filing for unemployment your new full-time job.

"Be your own advocate. Do not put it in the hands of someone else," she said.

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