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Georgia man concerned after unemployment benefits fall through

A Valdosta man said he lost everything while waiting for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)...
A Valdosta man said he lost everything while waiting for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) help that never came.(WCTV)
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 7:54 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) - A Valdosta man said he lost everything while waiting for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) help that never came.

Millions of Georgians filed for unemployment when the pandemic began, some for the first time in their lives. Sammy Tanner, a Valdosta man who was self-employed before COVID-19, is now without a home and is still waiting for assistance from the state.

“You know you see somebody on the side of the road, you hand the money out and it makes you feel good, but in the back of your mind, you wonder, ‘well is it really that bad?’ I never thought it could get that bad,” said Tanner.

Previously, Turner worked refurbishing old houses, painting and doing other frame work. Tanner said when things started to shut down, a lot of his clientele stopped., prompting him to apply for unemployment.

“They paid me,” he said, a few times back in 2020. However, in December, the payments stopped even though he said his benefits have been approved until 2022.

Tanner said he’s collected several emails between himself and officials at the department of labor. In one email dated March 25, Tanner reached out regarding a scheduled call from the department that never came.

“I was suppose to receive a call as scheduled today from 12 to 3. I have an on going issue that’s very urgent, as I’m a PUA claim whom has not received a payment since late 12/2020. I’ve followed and completed all required steps to verity my identify however my funds have yet to be released. I also continued to claim my benefits weekly. As of 3/23/21 my claim expired, and I have yet to receive my back dated fund,” Tanner explained.

He added that several emails like it and phone calls all go unanswered.

“I bought me a Camaro as a project. I sanded it, painted it, refurbished it and ended up letting it go. I ended up selling it for like t$200 because I was in that much of a bind,” said Tanner.

The Department of Labor said that the program for self employed workers is a new program, one that was thrown together loosely to offer aid to people when the pandemic first hit.

Commissioner Mark Butler said he believes the department has done a great job at handling the new programs and the millions of claims received in the last year. He also shared that a lot of the issues he has experienced consists of incomplete or fraudulent applications.

In response, Tanner said he has done everything that has been asked of him, including reapplying, verifying his identity in the ID Me portal and sending in his invoices. All he’s asking for now is a clear answer to if and when he will receive his benefits again.

Tanner said, “I need it. I just need the benefits. I just need them to tell me what I got to do.”

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