Jobs

The challenges of navigating unemployment system

Karen Lucas waited nearly three months for her jobless benefits.
Karen Lucas waited nearly three months for her jobless benefits.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

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Two months after losing her job of 18 years and filing an unemployment claim, Karen Lucas had still not received benefits. Her savings depleted, she began to grow desperate, worrying how she would afford the insulin she needs daily to treat her diabetes.

The 44-year-old Watertown resident said she called the state Division of Unemployment Assistance week after week, sometimes waiting on hold for hours. No one could give her information about her claim, so she waited, taking her insulin in lower than prescribed doses to make it last longer.

Finally, nearly three months after filing her claim, Lucas on Wednesday received her unemployment benefits of $377 a week on Wednesday in a lump sum of more than $4,000. But the experience left a mark.

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