The envelope finally arrived in mid-September.
When Erin Madden opened it and pulled out the debit card with her unemployment benefit, all she could think of was the half year she’d been waiting for this moment. She felt it would never happen.
“I almost didn’t believe it would finally have arrived,” said 28-year-old Madden.
But there was the card that would soon be worth more than $ 16,000.
Erin Madden waited almost seven months for her unemployment benefit.
Source: Erin Madden
Erin Madden: “It’s been four months and I have no idea when it will end.”
Source: Erin Madden
Prior to the pandemic, Madden had around $ 6,500 in credit card debt.
She hoped to use her cash income to withdraw this balance by the summer, but when her paychecks stopped and unemployment checks didn’t replace her, she had to use her card to meet her basic needs, which resulted in her debt falling in that skyrocketed than $ 10,000. The interest rate on your credit card is 22%.
Although her balance was paid out when her unemployment benefit arrived, she was still paid interest of $ 680 while she was late.
With no income, Madden’s bank account went negative in places.
On two separate occasions – once when a recurring medical bill was debited from her account and the other time when her internet bill hit – Her bank charged her an overdraft fee of $ 35.
Madden’s monthly rent for her studio apartment in Los Angeles is around $ 1,300.
With no unemployment benefits, she fell behind and ended up owing her landlord nearly $ 4,000.
“My landlord texted me and said, ‘So you can’t pay rent? When can you pay it?'” She said. “I didn’t have an answer.”
She feared that she would be forced to leave her apartment “and suddenly have an eviction in my rental history, which would make it difficult to secure an apartment in the future. Many leasing companies will not rent to people with evictions record.”
As she continued to lag behind on her bills, Madden decided to ask her friend David if he could lend her some money.
He gave her around $ 6,000 to pay for her rent, car, and health care.
“Borrowing money from my boyfriend made me feel awful,” Madden said. “Luckily he’s a great guy and went out of his way to make me feel supported, but I still couldn’t help but feel like a burden – mostly because he works for the airlines and is worried about layoffs . Many of his colleagues have lost their jobs. “
She also turned to her parents for help with food and gasoline, which also made her uneasy.
“I’m well into adulthood at this point and I’ve never struggled to feed myself until now,” she said.
Madden was forced to make some tough decisions in the six months of no income.
Her car needed repairs, but she didn’t have the money to take it to the mechanic. She could no longer afford to continue seeing her therapist and canceled several other doctor’s appointments, stressed about the co-payments.
Earlier this year, Madden was diagnosed with an illness that made her heart beat unusually fast. There is a procedure for this called an Removal“Which it effectively cures,” Madden said, “but with my current health insurance, the procedure will still cost me around $ 1,600 out of pocket.”
She postponed that too.
The long delay in her performance made Madden very concerned, she said.
And the situation was difficult to explain to others.
“Some people in my life made it seem like it was my fault that I hadn’t received payment yet. They said, ‘If I were you, I would call them every day until they fix it,’ like I did didn’t do it. I’ve called her 1,000+ times, “said Madden.
Even so, she continued to call her state unemployment department and send her story to CNBC even though her belief that she would ever see the payments faded.
“There were many days when I thought I’d never see the money and all of a sudden I was stuck with a mountain of credit card debt and without a job,” Madden said. “The uncertainty made me sick.”