CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A professional basketball player, with a complicated unemployment situation and baby on the way, secured $7,000 in unemployment benefits after he asked WCNC Charlotte for help.
BJ Gladden's situation is one of the most complicated we've encountered. The former Olympic High School star lost his job playing professional basketball in Europe in March. Sent back home to Charlotte, he said he briefly took a job at FedEx, just over the South Carolina line, but then his expectant girlfriend learned her pregnancy is high risk.
"With BJ coming in contact with so many packages all over the world and being around so many people, they were like either you cannot be around him your entire pregnancy or he has to find a new job," his girlfriend said in September.
Down to just her income with no stable housing and a baby boy due in just weeks, reality started sinking in.
"It's definitely, definitely not enough to support both of us and a child," she said of her job. "Our savings are drained, we have a baby coming and he can't get a job until I have this baby."
Gladden filed for unemployment, but hit a stumbling block that's not unusual to just his situation. He filed in the state where he lives, rather than the state where he worked, The federal government and state unemployment offices warn against the pitfall, but it's something that's easier said than done for people who live on one side of the state line, but work on the other.
"It's right on that border of South Carolina and North Carolina, so I can see how I got confused," Gladden said.
As he now knows, if you file in the wrong state there's a good chance it will take longer for your benefits to arrive.
Shavonne Rhodes is learning that lesson the hard way too.
"I'm struggling to put gas in my car," Rhodes said.
The single mother faces uncertainty as she and her son temporarily live in a hotel.
"I can deal with everything else. I can deal with my issues, but my child shouldn't have to suffer," she said. "This is the second time I've had to lose everything and rebuild."
Having previously escaped an abusive relationship, the Rock Hill woman said she was working as a dancer in Charlotte when "stay at home" orders went into effect. Like Gladden, she filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance with no luck. She mistakenly filed in South Carolina, where she lives, rather than North Carolina, where she worked. After learning her mistake, she filed in the right state and is now awaiting resolution.
"I'm so grateful," she said. "I'm not sure if I ever would have known to file in NC."
Thankfully, Gladden's wait is now over. After we pointed out the discrepancy, he filed in the right state and South Carolina eventually deposited more than $7,000 in unemployment benefits.
"Great news! The money is in the account," Gladden said in early November. "It's been a great help and we just greatly appreciate it. It's going to help us get (our son) some diapers and some food and just everything he's going to need. The crib. The strollers. All of that. It's going to put us in a position to get those things and take care of him."
If you have any question about which state you should file in, both North and South Carolina recommend reaching out before filing.