Ohio waitress says she's owed thousands of dollars in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Posted at 10:13 AM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 10:13:51-05

An Ohio waitress said she's struggling to make ends meet with business at a trickle and with the thousands of dollars she said she's owed in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in limbo.

In her 32 years working as a waitress, Paige Welsh said she has never felt more down.

“It has been terribly, terribly alarming. Because the business is just not there anymore," Welsh said.

Welsh has not seen a lunch rush at either of her two serving jobs in a long time.

“You’re looking at reduced hours, you’re looking at no tips, and then on top of it you’ve got third party delivery services that now we’re preparing orders for. And they’re taking our tips out the door, too," Welsh said.

Welsh makes $4.40 an hour, which used to mean good money when she was making her usual tips.

“To go from middle income last year to this? A $22 paycheck for two weeks? That’s insanity," she said.

Welsh said she’s received some unemployment money, but right now she said she’s waiting on thousands of dollars from the state that she’s owed.

“I’m on the average about three to four hours a day on the phone,” she said.

With increased staffing now at Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Welsh said she can get through to a person but can’t speak to the person handling her claim.

“There are representatives that are answering the phone. They cannot pick up the phone and call a person. They have to email. So you know it’s frustrating for all of us when we can’t talk to the people that are processing the claims," Welsh said.

When Welsh goes online, one screen says she’s owed $3,700 dollars and another shows nothing. She said she’s emailed technical services for months and has never heard back. Welsh said she's being ping-ponged back and forth between state and federal agencies.

“To be two months behind on your house payment, to sit there and have to call and explain to these people you’re getting ready to lose your home and you know you’re either passed off to someone else -- there’s no reply and meanwhile we’re not getting what we’re supposed to be getting," Welsh said.

WCPO reached out to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The agency put someone in their office in direct contact with Welsh to help resolve her issues.