MUSKEGON, Mich. — A nurse who was laid off during the pandemic is still fighting with Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance agency trying to verify her identity.
She’s waited six months so far and still no answers, despite sending her ID documents in several times to the agency.
“Why don’t you believe who I am,” LaDonna Yandell said with a chuckle. “That’s probably my biggest question: What else can I do to prove I am who I say I am?”
Yandell is a pastor’s wife who cannot seem to get a response from the UIA.
“I do not have a familiar name, and if you Google my identity, there’s not another LaDonna Yandell in the United States that I’m aware of,” she said.
She’s sent in her identity documents several times but still no movement on the claim and no money.
“It’s like… how… what are they doing to try to verify who I am? I’ve sent them everything that I have,” said Yandell. “Nobody else has my social security card or my marriage license or my birth certificate.”
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Yandell’s been a nurse for more than three decades. She applied for benefits after her former employer shut down entirely last summer.
“We closed down due to COVID, completely closed the doors. In fact, this last week they tore the building down,” she said.
Yandell worked at Sanctuary at the Park in Muskegon. The sign’s still standing, but the majority of the site’s demolished. The skilled nursing facility closed for good at the end of August, and 43 residents were sent to live somewhere else.
Yandell tells FOX 17 that dealing with COVID is one of the scariest things of her life.
“To watch all of these people who’ve become so depressed--and I think a lot of older people are dying of loneliness because they’re not able to see their families still to this day,” she said.
She had six weeks of severance pay after the layoff, so she wasn’t even trying to collect benefits until mid-October.
ELIGIBILITY AND DOCUMENTS
Her monetary determination showed "if eligible," she would get the maximum weekly amount of $362.
Her online MIWAM account still shows open non-monetary issues.
“Then I just kept waiting to get paid,” she said. “It kept saying I qualified each week, and it showed that I was earning that much money, but yet no money was going into my account.”
She tells me she submitted all of the necessary documents, including her nursing and marriage licenses and her birth certificate.
Yandell also sent in the front and back of her driver’s license and social security card, but still got the same response.
“And they told me they still couldn’t verify my identity,” she said. “I just don’t understand it; it’s very confusing to me.”
Just last month, the agency told lawmakers between paid and unpaid claims, there are nearly 16,000 waiting on ID verification. More than 10,000 have been paid something, while 5,200 have not.
“They said there was so much fraud going on and people were stealing other people’s identity. But, I’m not aware of anybody stealing mine,” said Yandell.
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She sent an email to Governor Whitmer’s office, getting an automatic reply.
She’s waiting on 16 weeks of benefits and started a new job at the end of January.
Like thousands of others, she’s just hopeful she’ll get what’s owed to her.
“At this point I’m thinking I’m never gonna see that money, and it’s kinda disheartening to me because I’ve worked full time ever since I became a nurse. Then, when something as devastating as COVID happens, I’m not able to draw anything on it. It’s just really disheartening.”
Yandell just wants to rebuild her savings account, saying they’re now depleted down to nothing.
The UIA is looking into her issue, but I’m still waiting on a response as to why something like this would still be happening to so many people.
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