It's been more than a year since Larren Davis had a job.
In November 2011, he was let go as a doorman at a Gold Coast high-rise.
He has struggled to find work ever since.
"I've gone on a lot of interviews," Davis said. "But I never get the job. No one ever calls to say, 'Hey, go to work.'"
So he plows on, attending school part time and making ends meet however possible. For months, he has used unemployment insurance benefits to help bridge the gap — $178 every two weeks.
"It's not a lot, but believe me, it makes a difference," Davis said. "I have a wife and a son and a daughter who live with me."
So when he received a letter in late December saying his benefits were about to end, Davis got nervous.
"There was some question about whether I had gone back to work, so my payments would be suspended," Davis said.
Problem was, he hadn't gone back to work. He was just as unemployed as he was before. Davis said he filled out the enclosed form and hand delivered it to his local unemployment office.
Several days later, he received another letter, this one saying there were questions about his school attendance.
Davis said he went back to the unemployment office, handed over his class schedule and was told there was no problem.
But his unemployment checks did not resume. In fact, his last two checks, totaling about $356, were not released, he said.
Confused and unsure what to do, Davis emailed What's Your Problem? last week.
He said he has been unable to get a straight answer at his unemployment office.
"It's just unbelievable," he said.
Davis said he asked for an appointment to discuss the matter but was told there was no time available.
"He said: 'Right now, we're booked up,'" Davis said. "I said: 'For how long?' He said: 'Indefinitely.'"
The Problem Solver called Greg Rivara, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
Rivara said he could not talk about Davis' case specifically, but he said he could talk in general about similar situations.
"It's really important for individuals to follow the instructions on the paperwork that is sent," Rivara said.
He said the instructions allow individuals to challenge department rulings and to include supporting documents.
"It's not unusual for us to make a decision based on the information we have and then later be presented with information that prompts us to change our decision," Rivara said. "The department has information provided by entities other than the claimant. We use all of that information to make the best possible decision."
Reviewing all available information is important so the department can protect the trust fund and prevent fraud, Rivara said.
In general terms, in order to collect unemployment insurance benefits, an individual must be able to work and available to work, Rivara said.
If a person is in school, the student's schedule also must allow enough time to hold down a job.
"We ask people to be very clear about their school schedule," Rivara said. "They might be asked to show us the school schedule so we can see that they are still available for work."
After the Problem Solver contacted Rivara, an Illinois Department of Employment Security employee called Davis to set up an interview.
Davis said he left the interview Friday convinced his benefits would be reinstated and he would be paid for the four weeks his checks were withheld.
"At least I got an interview. I couldn't even get that before," he said.
He expects to hear the outcome by the end of the week.