Letter to the editor: Sub blindsided by IWD backlog

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To the editor:

An Iowa Workforce Development Unemployment Insurance Appeal decision dated Aug. 31, 2021, ruled that I am being denied the unemployment benefits that I received in 2020.

My phone hearing with Administrative Law Judge James Timberland and Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District (DCG) representative Michelle Wearmouth was held April 30, 2021.

In March, 2020, the Des Moines Register had a news article that stated substitute teachers qualified for unemployment because of the pandemic. I called Iowa Workforce, and they verified that I qualified, so I filed for unemployment. My last day of substitute teaching was Feb. 28, 2020.

From March 24 to June 4, 2020, DCG did not have onsite teaching, only remote teaching.  Wearmouth testified that DCG therefore had no need for substitute teachers. I was not offered a job for remote teaching.

In my testimony, I stated that I would not teach onsite because of my health conditions. I provided health records to the administrative law judge as well as a signed letter by my doctor that I should not be exposed to COVID-19 because of my health.

Now I will be ordered to pay back all unemployment benefits that I received. I receive Social Security plus $114 monthly from IPERS. This income will be used to determine my repayment schedule. This burden was inflicted on me and others in this predicament.

Iowa Workforce Development should have been given the revenue needed to process claims and appeals in a timely manner from the Republican-led state legislature and Gov. Reynolds. The backlog is totally unnecessary.

Julie Stewart
Waukee

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