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12 Responds: Can I receive backpay for a pandemic unemployment assistance claim?

Consumer Investigations
12 RESPONDS //
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Massachusetts woman who’s been out of work due to surgery never received the unemployment benefits she filed for, and was unable to apply for temporary disability due to the open claim, so she reached out to 12 Responds.

Denise Cadieux wrote: “At the end of April I was taken out of work by my physician to do preliminary staging for open heart surgery. TDI rejected my claim stating it was prophylactic but I did qualify for unemployment. So in late June I applied. I got paperwork from DLT with payment amounts but to this day have not received 1 cent. I have called their support lines. I have emailed. I have called upward of 30 to 40 times a day. No response. I had my open-heart surgery on 8/27. I cannot apply for TDI because supposedly my unemployment claim is still open. But yet I’ve never received a payment. I have not received a pay (employer) for a month. The nest egg I saved is gone. I cannot afford to stress at this time due to my surgery and my recovery process which is going to take months. Please I am begging for help. I believe I have exhausted all other means of contacting these offices with no results or even a phone call or email with any explanation or way to help. Could you please assist me in any way?”

Cadieux told 12 Responds she works at a hospital in Rhode Island and initially had to leave for five weeks to have procedures done prior to the open heart surgery. She said she had to test negative for COVID-19 before undergoing those procedures.

“Working at the hospital, you come in contact with the COVID patients,” Cadieux said.

Cadieux said during the time she wasn’t working, she applied for regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits but didn’t hear back from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) until she returned to work.

“I didn’t qualify for their benefits … I had to file for the pandemic unemployment insurance retroactively,” she recalled.

Be when she tried to fill out the paperwork online, she said she ran into problems.

“I could never put the dates in that I needed to be paid for,” she explained.

Cadieux said she never got paid for that time and was unable to open a new claim after leaving work again for surgery.

“They say I still have an active claim with unemployment,” she said.

12 Responds sought to find out if someone could apply for UI benefits and receive backpay for the time they missed work. In an email, DLT spokesperson Margaux Fontaine said if someone qualifies for Paid Unemployment Assistance (PUA), they can still receive backpay.

“Both regular and pandemic unemployment claims are made effective the Sunday of the week they are filed. However, federal guidance provides some flexibility in changing the effective date of a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claim,” she wrote. “If a claimant is seeking backpay on a PUA claim, they should contact the call center to speak with a representative to identify whether their claim is eligible for backpay.”

Cadieux said after 12 Responds reached out to the DLT, the agency got in touch with her and resolved the issue.

12 Responds: Submit your financial or health question here »

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