Out of work, now in debt: How Iowa's unemployment system gave workers benefits in pandemic, then said pay money back
James Furry still doesn't understand how he became indebted to the state.
Furry, 59, was a maintenance worker at a Dubuque nursing home when the COVID-19 pandemic began. With an order from his doctor to quarantine, Furry filed for unemployment in April.
Furry, who weighs 300 pounds and suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, has survived three heart attacks. His father died of a heart attack. His brothers have suffered them, too.
"It's just a family history, you know?" Furry said. "Some people are unfortunate."
He thought he qualified for benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program Congress created in March to cover people who stop working because they are especially vulnerable to the virus.