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Where's The Money | Lenoir man finally gets unemployment payments

He said a simple error by DES is what ultimately put a halt to his unemployment payments. It was an error quickly corrected.

LENOIR, N.C. — Five months after Gov. Roy Cooper told WCNC Charlotte unemployed North Carolinians shouldn't have to call journalists and lawmakers in a last-ditch effort to secure their jobless benefits, some still have nowhere else to turn. One of those people: a Lenoir man we helped collect almost $14,000 after months of waiting. 

The thousands of dollars in long-overdue unemployment payments are now in his bank account. Some of it he's already spent, paying back friends and family who loaned him money to help him get by.

In the nine months self-employed engineer Nathan Vannoy waited for the Division of Employment Security to restore his jobless benefits, he says he was never given an explanation. 

"No notice given, no reason given, no rationale that I could see," Vannoy said.

Incredibly, it took just days to clear up the situation once WCNC Charlotte got involved. But it shouldn't be this way. Even Gov. Cooper admitted that in February.

"Why does it take a phone call or email from a journalist or lawmaker to DES to pry loose a person's unemployment? Why can't regular people get their money without having to turn to us?" WCNC Charlotte's Nate Morabito asked Cooper in February. 

"Well, that shouldn't have to happen and our department of employment security has gotten out millions of dollars to thousands of people," Cooper said. 

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In the months since, DES has, for the most part, eliminated its backlog of claims. Some of the delays were blamed on mistakes by the filers -- but in Vannoy's case. 

"The mistake having been made was not made by me," Vannoy said. 

He said a simple error by DES is what ultimately put a halt to his unemployment payments. It was an error quickly corrected, resulting in him collecting more than $13,000 in back pay and more than $400 in new weekly payments.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.

"I have already begun repaying my debts," Vannoy said. 

The agency didn't just fix that mistake -- DES also canceled an overpayment notice from December, also made in error. Vannoy said he's relieved to finally have the money he's been waiting on. 

"Oh my goodness," he said. "I feel overjoyed and I feel vindicated."

Others have appealed as well -- DES is hiring more appeals referees to handle those cases.

Contact Nate Morabito at nmorabito@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.