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.