Florida Grandmother Denied $3,000 Lottery Winnings Over Unemployment Benefits Mix-Up

Grandma’s Joy Turns to Disappointment as Lottery Winnings Withheld

A Florida grandmother, Elizabeth Thornton, found herself in a heart-wrenching situation after winning nearly $3,000 on a Pick Four Ticket.

Her plans to pay off debts and treat her family took a hit when she was denied her winnings due to a mix-up related to unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Benefits Overpayment Hampers Winnings Collection

Elizabeth, who lost her job at Disney in 2020, had to rely on unemployment benefits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, a twist of fate unfolded as she was informed of an $8,000 overpayment in unemployment benefits, leading to the withholding of her lottery winnings.

Grandmother’s Hope Dashed Despite Overpayment Waiver

Expressing her disappointment, Elizabeth shared her plans for the winnings, including settling car notes, insurance, and helping her family.

Despite the state waiving the overpayment, Elizabeth encountered a roadblock in collecting her lottery prize.

Employment Attorney Describes Situation as “Unique”

Art Schofield, an employment attorney, weighed in on the situation, deeming it “unique.”

He explained that even if the state waives overpayments, it often seeks to retrieve the money, especially when lottery winnings are involved.

The intricate connection between these funds poses challenges for individuals like Elizabeth.

Grandmother’s Persistent Efforts to Claim Winnings

Undeterred, Elizabeth is actively pursuing her lottery winnings, emphasizing that the money rightfully belongs to her. She asserts, “You took the money out that don’t belong to you.

You told me I didn’t owe anything, you waived it,” highlighting the frustration and confusion surrounding the situation.

State Agency’s Explanation and Legal Framework

The state agency responsible for the withholding of lottery winnings explained their stance, stating that lottery wins can be kept if there is an overpayment issue from before.

Citing a longstanding agreement, they clarified that, in accordance with the Florida Statutes, Elizabeth’s winnings were withheld due to a state-owed debt flagged by the Department of Commerce.

Resolution Lies with Department of Commerce

The Florida Lottery specified that the Department of Commerce, formerly the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), is the agency responsible for reimbursing Ms. Thornton, if applicable.

The legal framework and collaboration between the Department of Commerce and the Florida Lottery underscore the complexity of the situation.

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