I don’t go to our mailbox very often – it’s a little out of the way of our new park and there’s generally either nothing there or nothing worth retrieving.  One day I found both an advertisement for a mobility scooter and a sample can of baby formula!  And not too long ago I got an URGENT envelope from Chase mortgage with a letter offering me help avoiding foreclosure (umm, let’s see that’s about 18 months too late)!  I dropped by the mailbox this past Saturday because we were expecting a movie from Netflix and found, in addition to the disc, two letters from the unemployment office.  One was a “Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award” stating that beginning 8/22/2010 I was eligible for a $403 weekly benefit running out in 4 months.  $403 is a reduction of $72 a week, or $288 a month over what we have been receiving so I started mental belt tightening while opening the 2nd letter.  It was a “Notice of Determination of Invalid Claim” which stated that because I was not paid, nor did I earn wages of at least $1300 as an employee in the past year my claim was not valid.  In another paragraph it noted that “This determination does not affect your claim for extended benefits.”

Since none of this was particularly clear to me I tried calling the 1-800 number.  In typical helpful government fashion, perhaps because I haven’t called this number in nearly a year, my PIN doesn’t work.  I’m told by the mechanical voice that I can change my PIN by first entering my old PIN and then selecting a new one.  Hmmm.  I try the web for answers to my questions.  After following various links and answering a series of questions I am informed that my question can not be answered on the Internet and I am directed to call and speak to a representative.  I try dropping by the physical location, taking a number and waiting with a crowd of unnaturally subdued people to speak to someone in the know – but when I wend my way to the counter I am told they cannot answer individual claim questions and that I must call the 1-800 number!  I do find out that I can request a new PIN in writing and should expect to receive it in 4 to 6 weeks. 

My next unemployment benefit check is due this Friday.  I decide to wait and see.

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16 Responses to Tenterhooks

  1. Barb says:

    Another unemployment story from MN. After my benefit year was up I had to reapply. I did have some earnings in the preceeding year due to taking part-time, temp work. So my “new” benefit was lower by $54 and no supplemental fed benefit of $25. So in August, until the end of the month, no income. There is a waiting week. The same day I get a letter saying I am ineligible, a payment for 2 weeks hits my bank account. Now I am overpaid and have to pay back 100% of it even though I only collect 85% due to taxes being withheld. Then a few days later, I get a letter stating that they are re-instating my old, higher benefit for 5 weeks. Many phone calls and many different answers later, I am told I get to keep this. I was worried I’d have to pay back more than I got paid again. After 5 weeks, they put me on a new benefit year and pay me the “new” reduced amount without the $25 supplement. Another waiting week. If I was paid minimum wage for all the calls I’ve made, I’d have a decent check. I finally got a part time, low pay job with benefits after looking for years. This is not the job I want, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Anyway, due to the low earnings, I am supposed to be able to collect partial unemployment for a while. No one knows how long. What a murky nightmare dealing with unemployment is. If I would have been a single parent and no other income, I imagine that I would not have paid rent or fed the kids in August. I don’t think they realize that what they do impacts real peoples’ lives. Sorry for the rant but you touched a raw nerve with me.

  2. footprint says:

    I think the letter simply meant that you are eligible for the unemployment extension for four more months but you are not eligible to file any new unemployment claim because you did not earn wages of at least $1300 in the past yea. I hope this explanation make sense to you.

  3. Sharon says:

    I was getting frustrated just reading about it. You have the patience of Job. (no pun intended). Hopefully this all works out for you, and you have a nice check in the mail.

    Hopefully with the new elections in November, our economy will start turning around again….or is that wishful thinking???

  4. Debbieo says:

    Well this may be a sample of the hope and change we were promised.

  5. Jay says:

    The joys of being dependant on the government for anything! GRRR.

    I deal with government agents daily, sometimes hourly, and it drives me bonkers!

    I hope you get this sorted out.

    And thank you for spelling “Tenterhooks” properly 😉 I’m surprised by the number of people who insist it is “tenderhooks”!

  6. Lynn says:

    Hey, there is an idea for a job! Clearly they need good people to work at the unemployment office!

    But that would be for the state and the state of Calif has its own problems these days. How about the feds?

  7. SAB says:

    I don’t know why it has to be so unbelievable difficult just to get through to a person, or to get some information. 🙁

  8. Anna says:

    You have a very good attitude about this! It must be a very difficult thing to go through – especially when you can’t get any answers. I’ll be thinking about you and hoping some positive answers are forthcoming. You and your family deserve it!

  9. jill says:

    not that it will necessarily help, but- when something similar happened to me here in Texas, I kept calling the local offices til I got a human, then cried until they gave me the secret website on which to send an email. I did, and got a call back the next morning. Good luck.

  10. been there says:

    Typical bureaucracy!

    When I was on welfare they wrote so many letters to me telling me I was disqualified from benefits because i had another address and had earnings. Huh?

    No matter how many times I wrote to them and to my specific worker, they couldn’t comprehend that my ex was living at the other address and was receiving disability.
    I finally said to heck with them and stopped trying to correct the problem.
    When I told the office at my housing unit of this they contacted someone and it was supposedly corrected. A few months later it started again and they started deductions for things that had nothing to do with me. Finally the worker was changed at my request and her replacement was a bit smarter.and worked it out.

    Dealing with the government is the pits. They are supposed to help people and most of the time they do anything but.

    Waiting till you get the next cheque is a good idea then you will know exactly what you are dealing with.

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