Unemployed health insurance worker says VEC is paying her benefits to someone else

Virginia Unemployment Commission
Posted at 8:13 PM, Oct 15, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal judge Friday is giving the Virginia Employment Commission one more week to show the court and lawyers suing the VEC the progress the beleaguered agency has made in processing claims and in putting a number on exactly how many appeals they are handling.

Judge Henry Hudson’s order that extends a previous agreement to October 22 may be a positive sign. However, one Richmond woman says she just hopes that means someone will answer the phone at the VEC who can actually do something about her case.

"The system wouldn't let me do [an appointment] on the computer,” said Tawanda Ross. “So it took about four or five weeks before I was able to get an appointment."

For most of the last two months, 44-year-old Ross has been trying to get the VEC to find out where her benefits have been going. Not getting through is a common complaint that CBS6 has heard hundreds of times.

"When you call first at eight o'clock, they're already flooded, and I understand that a lot of people that are out, but you know, I just wanted some answers," Ross said.

Apparently, someone has been stealing the laid-off insurance worker's benefits and changing her account information.

"When I verify my account number, a woman at the VEC said, ’that's not the account number that we have for you on file,’” said Ross. “And I said, ‘really,?” I repeated it back to her and I said, ‘I've had this account, it's ever been about 15 or 20 years or more because I was a teenager when I had it.’"

As a result, Ross has had to resend her personal documents multiple times to the VEC. Whoever has taking Ross' money is trying to make sure she doesn't catch up with them.

"She said, 'Well, someone's been applying for your benefits every week since August 16. They're changing the account information every two weeks,'” said Ross. “And I was like, ‘the first time that account number was changed, it didn't raise a red flag? You didn't send an email saying, Is this you?’”

Somehow, as the VEC lets the changes go through, they still have Ross's actual home address. She knows that because she still gets regular mailings from the VEC.

Shockingly, Ross says she was never notified about the repeated account changes.

"Not by telephone or by email, not by letter either,” Ross said. “I’ve received numerous letters from them. I even received one today, but they're still saying that my address is incorrect."

Ross says she spoke to a VEC supervisor on Thursday who had her send her actual documentation yet again, but then still could not tell her when her case might be resolved.

And so she'll keep waiting.

"Some of the workers they were very good, but they didn't have answers,” Ross said. “It's like they were swimming without a preserver and for others, they were very nonchalant, it didn't affect them; they didn't care."

Earlier this week, CBS6 emailed VEC spokeswoman Joyce Fogg about Ross's case. She did not respond.

CBS6 has also still not heard about whether we'll be able to talk to Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess, who has been in charge of the VEC for seven years.