February 23, 2010

The Joys of Unemployment Benefits

Thank you Obama...thank you, thank you, thank you! When I was first laid off I was granted 6 months of unemployment benefits. At the time I thought I would need anywhere from 3 to 9 months of benefits. As I quickly learned, I've needed many more than that.

I originally wrote this post explaining how unemployment benefits work and all the little details that go into it but after composing it all, I decided I'd spare you the details and just say that some months can be very stressful.

This month was one of them. About 3 weeks ago, I got a letter stating that there would be a one week waiting period where I wouldn't be granted pay. Hmm, it's like going on a unpaid vacation for a week, but without the vacation!! While I am extremely thankful for unemployment benefits, it is worth mentioning that it is more than half of my original earnings so taking one week without those earnings was extremely scary. Then this past Friday, I got another letter, this one stating that I was no longer eligible for unemployment benefits at all. Panic started to set in and I began frantically looking for a phone number of who to call about this. This literally took about 30 minutes of searching for a phone number to an office. Once I did find a number I called it to find out that that number had been changed. Though slightly annoyed, at least they listed the new number! I called the new number only to get a busy signal. After hours of calling I finally had to give up after 5:00 when I finally got through but only to hear that the office was now closed. First thing yesterday I began the process again. More busy signals after busy signals until finally around 2:00 I got a hold of someone. We chatted for about a half hour explaining the situation while he was in the computer trying to figure out my situations, being put on hold numerous times but in the end everything was figured out and I found out, I do, in fact still qualify for unemployment for another 6 months! Wooo hooo! I was given very strict instructions to not miss my certification this week and next week. (this is when I call in to certify that I am still eligible for unemployment...about a 4-8 minute call where a computer asks me a bizzillion questions.)

I called in this morning and guess what I hear? "We're sorry, the computer system is currently down, please try again later."

I have...about 500 times. Finally, now I am getting a busy signal, so I guess that's progress, at least that shows signs that the system is up and running again. I just keep hearing the *friendly man from the unemployment office telling me, "You cannot miss your certification tomorrow or next week, I cannot stress how important this is!" Okay, I hear ya buddy, but tell your computer systems that!!

Once again, I thank Obama for this extension. I cannot imagine how worried I would be if I had children who were relying on that income for our food and shelter. It's much easier to know it's just me and Sam I'm providing for. It's always nice to put literally hours into something to have it all work out in the end. I finally just got through and after a 7:14 minute call, I certified my benefits and should be expecting a check by nxt Thursday. That is good news for me. Really good news!!

*friendly - he really was friendly. I am impressed each time I have to talk to someone at the unemployment office how friendly and helpful they are. They're very accommodating and sympathetic to my emotions each time. It's amazing how comforting it is that they truly seem to care about our well-being!

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