‘I’m right down to the penny’: 67-year-old Norfolk woman struggles to pay bills as she waits for unemployment

Gloria Cooper struggles to pay bills as she waits on unemployment benefits
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jun 23, 2022

NORFOLK, Va. – Gloria Cooper is a senior in a dire situation. She reached out to News 3 for help as her bills are mounting, costs are going up and the money in her bank account is quickly running out.

“I’m really… I’m just stressed out. I’m so stressed out,” Cooper said.

At 67 years old, Cooper said she should be enjoying her retirement. Instead, she worries about how she’s going to going to get by.

“I’m living off Social Security,” she said. “It’s been extremely difficulty and frustrating. I get my check and pay my bills and I’m broke.”

She said she’s been waiting for her unemployment check for several months after getting approval last year.

“I’m calling every week checking my account and it’s never there,” Cooper said.

She’s now counting her pennies just to survive.

“I’m right down to the penny,” she said.

Cooper said the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) told her she’s missing documents verifying who she is, but then the next time she calls, that’s not the problem.

“I know all my proper paperwork was sent in,” Cooper said. “I dotted all the I’s. I crossed all the T’s.”

The back and forth is causing headaches and taking a toll.

“I’ve been a caregiver for 17 years and working full and part-time jobs for 42 years. Extremely stressful,” Cooper said.

Cooper moved back into the Norfolk home she grew up in to take care of her ailing mother. Her mother, who had dementia, died a couple years ago. Coopers said she’s now struggling to pay the mortgage.

Making matters worse, she’s recovering from a stroke and says she’s had to put her doctors’ appointments on hold until she pays past due medical bills.

“Frustrated, sad, depressed,” Cooper said. “I can’t even say the words what I’ve been through.”

Related: Virginia Employment Commissioner answers questions about common complaints

News 3 called the VEC to try and get some answers for Cooper. Spokesperson Joyce Fogg said she’s having a representative call her to straighten things out.

Meantime, the VEC says it has made progress on tackling the backlog issue. Fogg says the agency has reviewed 26,963 appeals since the start of the year.

News 3 will stay on top of this story and provide an update when it becomes available.