Unemployed Arizonan receives nearly $5,000 back after nine-month battle with Arizona DES

After a long nine-month battle with the Arizona Dept. of Economic Security, one Valley woman has finally received thousands of dollars back from the state.

Kim Smith's Bank of America account, with her unemployment insurance money in it, was closed in July by the Department of Economic Security (DES) along with thousands of others because the agency thought it was fraudulent.

Kim has been interviewed by FOX 10 several times on her journey struggling with DES, trying to get her unemployment benefits.

Just days after FOX 10's latest story on her financial plight, she received a banking notification at 4 A.M. Saturday morning.

"I look at my phone and it’s like, 'You have a deposit,' " Smith said. "I was like, 'Maybe it’s my IRS or something,' and [when I found out] I was like, 'I gotta let Steve [Nielsen] know!'"

More than $4,600 was finally returned to her.

Like many, Kim lost her job last year. While trying to crackdown on fraud last July, the Department of Economic Security closed her claim and emptied her bank account.

In total, the department closed 28,000 accounts. Most were fraud, but DES admits some legitimate accounts were impacted.

So far, DES says more than 3,500 people have received their money back, but Kim waited months and months. The latest chronicle in her battle on March 15 revealed that she received a judge's order in January for the state to give back her money. 

Still, two months later, she continued to wait.

"You guys helped to put it out there, there’s a problem and it needs to be fixed," Kim said. "And I’m not the only one!"

DES says they’re still reviewing other claims from the July account closures.

Now that DES returned her money, she can pay off back rent, cell phone bills and a storage unit holding valuable memories, Kim said.

"People don’t understand what it feels like," Kim said. "Unless you’re going through it you just don’t understand. So thank you."

Continued Coverage

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