Business

Heidi Thompson-Totman has not been receiving her unemployment benefits because of a defect in the state’s computer system. Now, she says, “We are going downhill fast.”
Heidi Thompson-Totman has not been receiving her unemployment benefits because of a defect in the state’s computer system. Now, she says, “We are going downhill fast.”Credit: Jonathan Wiggs /Globe Staff

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Devastated by the layoff last year from her job of 15 years, Heidi Thompson-Totman found new hope when she was approved for a federally-funded program that would provide her with up to about a year of unemployment benefits while she retrained to do work as a graphic designer.

Borrowing $2,000 to cover tuition and enrolling at North Shore Community College last fall, Thompson-Totman looked forward to completing her associate degree and getting back to work—until her weekly benefits of about $300 stopped without explanation two months ago. Now she and her husband, barely getting by, are planning to sell their Boxford home so they can pay college tuition for their children.

“We are going downhill fast,” said Thompson-Totman. “We can’t make our bills.”

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