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Norfolk woman battling breast cancer set to get unemployment benefits, nearly two years after appeal

Pamela Askew has struggled with her unemployment benefits since she got laid off from her job in March 2020.

NORFOLK, Va. — The past three years proved to be some of the most challenging for Pamela Askew in Norfolk.

"In 2020, March, we got laid off because of COVID," Askew said. 

Since then, Askew has become too familiar with the constant phone calls to the Virginia Unemployment Commission (VEC), saying, "I've been calling for two and a half years."

Askew said she filed for unemployment and received weekly payments until she randomly stopped receiving her benefits in July 2021.

"And I had no idea. I couldn't get through over the phone," Askew explained. "I couldn't get through in email... so, I had to wait."

Askew eventually filed an appeal in September 2021 and waited until she received a response in June 2022 stating she had won her appeal and she would receive the payments for the months between January 2021 and January 2022. 

However, since then, she still has not received those benefits.

She said each phone call she made for the past several months only pushed her further away from an answer as to why she still hasn't received her benefits.

"And in between that, I get diagnosed with stage four breast cancer... so now I have zero. Without the help of my children and selling candy apples for cancer for donations, I can't make it," said Askew. "That's why I contacted you guys [13News Now], because I've seen you get to the bottom of a lot of things."

Askew said she reached out to our 13News Now team because of our previous stories on helping people find answers regarding problems with the VEC.

So, 13News Now looked into Askew's case by contacting the VEC and asking why she still hasn't received her benefits. About 24 hours later on Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the VEC reached back out to us, saying staff members reviewed Askew's case and called her to let her know what happened.

Askew spoke to 13News Now after her phone call with the VEC, saying the VEC staff members told her the computer system didn't read her case correctly and that she should get a majority of her benefits sent to her in less than a week.

Now, Askew said this is one less burden she has to carry.

"I think I'll be okay with my future," she said. "God is good."

Askew said the VEC workers told her they are able to get a majority of the money that she is owed. She said that while it's not the full amount yet, it'll help her get through some of her breast cancer treatment.

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