FORT MYERS, FLA-- A WINK NEWS investigation uncovers many people who filed well before the November 23th deadline to receive Emergency Advanced Payments from the BP Oil Spill fund are still waiting to get their claim check.
The gulf oil spill happened nowhere near the coast of southwest Florida...but thousands of people here are still suffering...including Frank Graham.
"Well they called me into human resources and told me my position was eliminated because of business volume from the oil spill," said Graham recalling the day he was laid off from the Sundial resort on Sanibel.
He had worked for the resort for three years.
"I accepted the reason. Shook every one's hand and left," said Graham.
He decided to make a claim with BP for his lost wages.
"BP told me all I need is those two documents: my (pay) statements and a letter documenting why I got terminated," said Graham.
Graham's still waiting on his claim, but he's one of thousands here in southwest Florida.
As of November 21st:
Residents in Charlotte county had made 289 claims.
Residents in Lee county had made 4,857 claims
Residents in Collier county had made 11,889 claims
The fund has only paid out:
46 claims in Charlotte
306 claims in Lee
980 claims in Collier
WINK NEWS uncovered a report by Ken Feinberg's office (the man appointed by President Obama to administer the fund) showing most claims aren't paid because they don't have the right paperwork.
132 thousand claims have been made in Florida. The fund has paid just over 46 thousand claims totaling 675 million dollars.
Another 39 thousand of those claims haven't paid because they are missing a key piece of documentation to prove they should be reimbursed.
But information released by the fund doesn't say what exactly documentation each claim is missing. This is one reason why the fund has come under fire for not being more transparent about why they fill some claims and deny others.
Remember frank who just needed his pay stubs and a letter from his employer?
"well, Sundial called me after the first time I asked them and said it should be no problem. They just have to get with corporate. And then when I got back with them again they said well the GM has to get with his boss. It was phone call after phone call after phone call after phone call that wasn't answered. And that's the last I heard," said Graham.
Without that letter, there's nothing he can do to get paid back.
"That's all I want. I want nothing else. I just want a chance to put in my claim," said Graham.
A spokeswoman for Sundial told WINK NEWS over the phone they do not comment on past employees. We asked for the resort policy for helping employees file claims and again she told us she had no comment. We also asked if the resort was refusing to provide the paperwork so the resort could make the claim and again she told us she would not comment.