Posted by: Admin | January 15, 2010

My “Canniversary”

Well, I just recently celebrated my 6th month unemployment “Canniversary”. 

With this anniversary you receive a special gift.   The most important gift to someone in my shoes is of course, an extension of unemployment benefits. 

Now, as with most government programs, there are a few things you should know. 

  1. There is not a ton of information shared with you upfront (so you rarely understand what’s going on or what you need to do)
  2. Most government employees know, in fact, just a little as you do (so when you call them you rarely get the correct answer)

So, as I moved closer to the date where my 1st allotment of benefits would be exhausted, I could see the bank of money moving closer & closer to ZERO on my government check.  I realized I had no idea what happens next, so like any normal person, I decide to call the unemployment office with a few questions. 

This, I can assure you, is quite a feat.  In NJ when you dial the unemployment # you hear a recording.. it says something like “due to the volume of calls we receive, we cannot take your call now, please try again later”  CLICK.  You are then sitting there, phone in hand, wondering how on earth you actually get to speak to someone since they have disconnected you and suggested you try again.  No queue, no suggestion of how to speak to a live person.  Just a recording then BAM!..disconnected. 

So, I hang up and try again… same recording.  I hang up and try again…. same recording.   I’d have better luck calling a radio station trying to the be 50th caller to win 2 tickets to see Ashlee Simpson (although this is probably a bad example since there are probably far more people calling unemployment than there would ever be trying to go see Ashlee Simpson). 

So, I replay this scenario for something like 10-15 minutes.  No joke, I literally dial, get the recording, get disconnected, hang up and dial again for almost 15 minutes.  Then finally SUCCESS!  I get a different recording that says I’ll be put into a queue and that the approximate wait time is 25 minutes.  45 minutes later I do indeed get someone on the phone. 

This guy proceeds to tell me that extensions are automatic so I don’t need to actually do anything but that the balance left in my “bank” will not be sufficient to cover a full 2 weeks of payments.   So, he tells me to claim benefits the following week (which is only 1 week rather than the normal 2 weeks) and then to call back to have them “push thru a manual payment for the difference”.   

OK… I feel like I understand and then I sit there for a moment, wondering what else I can ask him to make my 1 hour wait worthwhile.. there must be something else??  So, I ask him if he knows when Ashlee Simpson will be playing next in NJ… and he says “huh?”.  And, I say, I feel like I’ve earned some Ashlee Simpson tickets based on how many times I had to call in.. and he’s all..”ma’am, I have no idea what you’re talking about”.  And, I’m all.. “you know Ashlee Simpson, that girl who lip synched on SNL a few years back… how do I get concert tickets?” And, he’s all “you do know you called the unemployment office right”.. and I’m like.. “yeah but”… OK, so maybe none of that last part happened, but it would have been funny and maybe I’ll try it the next time I need to call them. (Perhaps I should also clarify that I actually wouldn’t go to see Ashlee Simpson… even if the tickets were indeed free!)

So, this past week I put thru my claim (I do them on line) for my last week.. which processes a check for me, less than it should be.  But I’m pretty good at following directions so I call the unemployment office again.  Dial, recording, disconnected, hang up.  Dial, recording, disconnected, hang up.  The magic amount of time seems to be about 12 minutes and then BAM.. I’m in… “the wait time is approximately 25 minutes”. 

Finally a woman comes on the phone.  I explain that I’ve exhausted my benefits and that “the guy” from last week told me to call so you can “push thru a manual payment for the difference”.   And, she’s like “huh?”.  “The guy last week told me that that I should process my claim a week early and then call you”.  So, what do you think she said?? “that’s not what you should have done at all, and I don’t think I can process a manual payment to you.  You’ll need to wait for the extension to kick-in, then process your normal 2 week claim, then, and only then, we may be able to process a check for the difference”.  Then, those dreaded words…. “so, you’ll need to call us back after you file your next claim”.

Wonderful, now I have half of a week’s check and no one at the unemployment office seems to be on the same page.  AND,  I now need to go thru this ridiculous process all over again in another week.   I’m not sure why I’m surprised.  Actually I’m really not surprised at all, just frustrated because it’s impossible to get a straight answer out of them, and depending on who you get on the phone the answer can very significantly! 

Anyhow… Happy Canniversary to me!



  1. Been there, done that more than once too (sigh).

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