George O’Malley* was laid off from his job as a fork lift driver and he needed unemployment benefits to tide him over until he could find a new job.
He signed on as a substitute custodian for a local school district, but the 58-year-old found the work aggravated health issues with his back, and he asked for lighter work. Since no alternative job was available, he re-opened his unemployment case and his benefits resumed.
A bureaucratic mistake was a near catastrophe for Mr. O’Malley: while a doctor confirmed he couldn’t do repetitive bending and lifting, the paperwork seemed to say he couldn’t work at all. The Unemployment Commission issued two negative determinations on his case: His benefits were denied and he was assessed an overpayment.
Mr. O’Malley feared he would have no income and still have to pay back the benefits he had already received. Soon he found Legal Aid and attorney Anita Myerson represented him at two appeal hearings. Eventually, the overpayment debt of $1570 was removed and Mr. O’Malley received $1310 in back benefits. But the best outcome was that Mr. O’Malley found a new job just as he exhausted his 26 weeks of benefits.
“Legal Aid a great help to me and I was very happy with the way everything was handled,” says Mr. O’Malley. Thanks to Legal Aid, he went from not having enough money for groceries to a new job that pays $17 an hour.
* Client name was changed to protect privacy. Legal Aid is grateful to the Deaconess Foundation for their support of Legal Aid’s work to remove barriers to employment.