Would you like to hear how claiming unemployment benefits in Michigan is going for me? Read on...
I filed on March 23, and was immediately approved. But because I was claiming beginning the 24th - a Tuesday - and since the Unemployment system counts a week as from Sunday to Sunday, I had to answer that I quit a job that week. Which threw my case to pending, no payment.
I also had to deal with ability assessments, since I had quit for medical reasons. Now, how easy do you think it is to see your doctor about a non-Covid case in the worst days of a pandemic and get them to sign all the forms the government is demanding? I had to turn backflips to get two video appointments, one in April, one in May, and I can prove that none of the paperwork they demanded from my doctor - who was already KINDA BUSY and didn't need this **** either - never actually got processed and attached to my claim. P.S. part of that medical assessment was for mental health, and my depression scores are so bad my doctor is convinced, no matter how many times I tell her I'm not suicidal, that I am definitely suicidal. She desperately wants me to find a therapist and go on more and stronger meds, but I can't without money, so now all this bureaucracy is actually negatively impacting my health, making me go against doctor's orders, and if you believe my doctor has created a life-threatening situation (just to clarify, I'M NOT SUICIDAL, but the disconnect of my doctor being crazy worried for me and the government not caring about my well-being in the least has been something).
So, I went through multiple denials and multiple disputes until I finally got a phone hearing with a judge on 6/11. I learned something rather disturbing from the judge. I quit for medical reasons and am seeking disability, which is a process that takes months if not years. Now, despite a couple of periods of unemployment that were not at all my fault, I've been a very steady, reliable, productive employee since I started my career. You'd think that Unemployment Insurance is something that you earned to act as a lifeline between sources of income. Oh no, it's definitely a lifeline between jobs. If you can't work full time anymore, you don't qualify for unemployment.
Thankfully, I had a great judge who ruled in my favor, on the grounds that if I had a full-time job that fully accommodated my disability like the one that let me go in 2019, I could definitely work full-time, which is true (I miss that job more than anything. And not being able to move on from it in a year and a half now has NOT been easy). Thankfully not just because that means I should, eventually, get the money that's owed to me, but also because if your disability was not directly caused by your job, you'll find yourself in a position where you can't work and there's zero financial assistance available though the state. Could you imagine if I lived completely alone, like most people my age and in my situation? Hey, you know, if I were married and my husband was still working we could probably get by, but I don't have a husband, and I've lost the ability to work full time without very special circumstances involved, so how am I supposed to feed and house myself? The only people eligible for any kind of assistance in my state are mothers of children under 18, and people with disabilities over the age of 65. I'm just expected to die already.
Anyway, I've been approved to receive my unemployment benefits since 6/17, but still haven't seen them a whole month later, because now they want me to verify my identity. I got a letter in the mail about this last week, and went to the UI website to submit my documents. I was sent the letter, but no one activated the online form on my portal, and since I had a tight deadline I followed the "return via mail" instructions. This was a week ago, and I mailed my form promptly and at the branch of the post office that hosts the agency's PO box. They still haven't processed it.
So, I go to submit again, since they finally activated the online form on my portal, but since I was required to send the letter they sent me back with the appropriate information to submit by mail, when I got to the part where they asked for the verification number at the top of the letter they sent me, I didn't have that information because I mailed it back to them already. Which means that I have been approved for benefits since 6/17, but I won't have them paid until sometime in August at the earliest, since qualification is every two weeks, and they hadn't gotten to my case yet this round.
Yes, I will have gone 4 full months without any source of income by the time I finally see my first unemployment payment, if I ever see a payment, which at this time I still doubt.
And yes, I have been spending the morning screaming and crying about this, and being told that I'm being immature about this and making the dog bark and need to stop. And I still can't afford the treatment and medication that would make all of this less traumatic.
Now you may be wondering why, in all of this, I've talked to a doctor and a judge, but never a UI agent. That's because I have absolutely zero access to any of them. Calls and online chats get dropped, emails are ignored, and while the Secretary of State has reopened for appointments, UI has not. I have zero help or recourse. I just have to keep waiting.
So, that's the kind of fun me and half of the people who applied for unemployment at the beginning of the pandemic have been having these past four months. It's a great thing knowing through personal experience that the government I elected and pay for their services with my mandatory tax dollars literally does not care about me and will not help me if I need it.