Unemployment is Not as Streamlined As it Should Be

Update 02.04.2011 – More than 45 days after this post was written, we still do not have resolution from the Florida Unemployment Office. It’s been three full months since the claim was filed and approved, however a penny has yet to be paid.

Interestingly enough, it would appear the reason for this (at least this is what we were told this time around), is because the IRS is in the process of an audit of my girlfriends previous place of employment. During this process, no benefits are paid. According to the CSR, this happens to more than 10,000 claims each and every quarter in the state of Florida and the entire process can take more than 60 days to complete, from when the audit begins. Since the audit officially began on January 19th, we expect to resolution until the end of March. That makes almost five full months without receiving an unemployment benefit, which I can’t begin to fathom for the people who need this money to survive.

–Original Article–

Thankfully, I can tell you that I’ve never been unemployed since the week after graduating college however I know most Americans are not as lucky.  This is true for my girlfriend, who lost her job about six weeks ago, and filed her claim for unemployment the very next day.  In what is standard procedure, she received a letter informing her of the claim she filed and that for the first two weeks, she would not receive a benefit, as that is known as the “waiting period”.

She expected to start receiving benefit checks the following week, however after she claimed her two weeks online, no such checks arrived.  So, after placing a quick call (which in the unemployment CSR world is about 30 minutes) she was told that her claim was under review, as her employer was located in NY, not Florida and it would take a week to clear things up.  In the meantime, she was asked to continue claiming her benefits, and when this was resolved, she would receive all compensation.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, here we are in week #6 and nothing has been resolved.  In fact, she received a letter a few days ago asking for her last pay-stub, as they have no record of her employment!  Earlier today when she called in, she was told there is no timetable as to when she should expect resolution and that she would need to keep claiming her weeks.  Thankfully, our situation is not as dyer as others, so this represents more of a large inconvenience than a serious financial problem.

But I wonder just how many people in need of unemployment assistance are waiting just as long if not longer for their claim to be approved.  Considering the state of our economy and how many people have been filing claims over the last 24 months, I would have thought, and hoped, that this process was more streamlined than it is.  My girlfriend worked for a hotel, was paid twice a month through direct deposit, was laid off and then filed a claim providing all accurate information including the contact information for the HR department.  But even with that, she is the one having to provide documentation of employment and she is the one having to be the “go between” for her previous employer and the unemployment office.  Shouldn’t it be as simple as a phone-call or fax to verify her employment and that’s that?

Perhaps I’m overlooking the fraudulent aspect of what could happen if the right procedures and time was not take but for those living paycheck to paycheck, six weeks is long enough where rent isn’t paid, utilities are past due and loan payments begin to ruin credit scores.  I don’t feel optimistic about the unemployment offices getting this situation taken care of soon, so we could be looking at another few weeks of no income for her.

It’s awfully frustrating to hear that there is no expected date of resolution but what else can she do but keep up the job hunt and wait for a letter with a benefits check?  I know it’s tough out there to find a job but now knowing it’s tough just to collect unemployment makes me look at the economy with an even worse perspective.  For those who have filed unemployment recently or did so in the past, have you experienced any of the same delays?  Please feel free to share your stories below.

Topics: Personal Finance

6 Responses to “Unemployment is Not as Streamlined As it Should Be”

  1. My wife was laid off from work almost two years ago for a period of about 6 months before her prior employer called her back. She immediately filed her claim and went through the 2 week waiting period. It actually took about 6 weeks before she received her first check but it did include all of the weeks she had claimed up to that point.

    While she was looking for a job she decided to take a minimum wage job with a local school district as something to help pass the time. It turned out to not be the job for her and left about 4 weeks in. Less than a week after she terminated employment she received a letter from unemployment requiring her to refund 3 months of compensation she had supposedly collected while employed! After several phone calls everything got straightened out and no money was required to be refunded. However since she had taken a job and voluntarily quit she was no longer eligible for benefits.

    I found it odd how quickly she was contacted to refund the money when it took so long for her to get any to start with. Luckily our situation was not one where the lack of income caused us anything more than a small change in lifestyle but it seems that there is definately so serious beauracracy at play.

  2. The Penny Hoarder

    Oh my, that is awful. I assume she is managing to get by, but can you imagine somebody without any savings/credit having to go 6 weeks or more without their unemployment check? It breaks my heart thinking about a mom not being able to feed her kids, because something in the “system” went wrong.

  3. Thats too bad.

    I’ve never heard of anyone complain about the process around here. Unemployment is handled at the state level. So we’ve got 50 different states handling it differently. Of course high unemployment rates mean that the unemployment offices are doing more work than usual which could also cause them to be backlogged more now than usual. But honestly I personally wouldn’t have expected unemployment checks to be ‘fast’ in general.

  4. Annie Mack

    I work for a construction company in Delaware and I can tell you that each state handles unemployment differently. Maryland will fax me a form to fill out, but Delaware makes the employee contact me and have a letter written and faxed to the unemployment office. In each case, if I decide to sit on the paperwork the whole procedure would come to a screeching halt. I’m not sure if it’s the unemployment office that is at fault or the employer. I make it a point to drop everything and supply the paperwork to get our laid-off employees their checks. I doubt every company does that. Once you put something aside, it may be days or weeks before you find it again. That could be extremely inconvenient for someone waiting for money to pay bills and buy food. I treat everyone the way I’d want to be treated.

  5. How frustrating! Okay, I can see a two-week wait, but six weeks with no end in sight is ridiculous! Bills don’t stop just because the unemployment office has things messed up. If the insurance is offered, it ought to be offered as promised, in a timely manner, or else come up with some other solution.

  6. There is certainly no need to limit yourself to Walmart if there are other facilities like Lens Crafters and Pearle Vision in your area. By all means shop around and see who’s currently offering the best coupons and deals. But I always end up going back to Walmart since they are so consistent and I know exactly what to expect from them in terms o service and quality.

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