Political Chowder Ingredients: Facts, Events, Policy, Politicians, Journalists, and YOU
Political Chowder Ingredients:
Facts, Events, Policy, Politicians, Journalists, and YOU

This Week's "You"
July 11, 2009
Comment to the NY Times
07/07/09

Where's my check?

Maine has three call centers, the one I am in, Augusta, has 14 people taking calls at least 5 hours per day; the phone queues hold steady at about 12 calls waiting at any point in the day,except on Mondays when it shoots up to about 23 calls waiting. The people call to open a new claim, or file a weekly claim, or most often to inquire "where's my check?". The maximum benefit in Maine is $356, the average benefit is about $265, and people are calling and crying, asking "what am I supposed to do?" while they wait for their checks. I had a man who started breathing fast and saying "I will lose everything, my home, my car, everything! I am done, it is over for me"...I was afraid he was going to kill himself. In the next cubicle a head popped up, she said " I had a woman who was crying, she is pregnant, living in her car and she is going to lose the car...."

The unemployment insurance system has been modified over the years to balance the interest of the employers who pay a tax on payroll wages into the unemployment trust fund, against the interest of the employees who are suddenly without a wage. The system is structured to ensure a person "loses a job through no fault of their own". When the universe of human circumstances cause people to leave work for situations that may or may not be a good cause, a fact finding interview is set up. If a person is eligible to collect after the fact finding, they recieve the benefits they have been filing for since they lost their job. Here in Maine a fact finding interview is scheduled about 6-8 weeks from when a person files. If a person receives vacation pay in a last paycheck it requires a fact finding. Those 20 hours of vacation pay will have to last 45 days.... folks ought to decline the vacation, bonus, holiday and severance pay in order to collect in a timely fashion. People are living from paycheck to paycheck and when they discover the unemployment benefit MIGHT materialize in as little as 3 weeks - when there is no fact finding required- to as long as 8 weeks, they fall apart.

We claims takers listen...and listen...and listen. We have no remedy to offer. Something needs to be done, this system is in disaster mode and to pretend it is functioning is a lie.