Friday, November 28, 2008

Unemployment checks - getting your first driver's license seems simpler

I don’t think I will ever again describe workers who’ve lost their jobs as being “idled” again.

There are ton of time consuming things to attend to when you are out of work, not the least of which is getting some money, any money, coming in. That’s what unemployment benefits are for –some short term cash to help tide you over for up to 26 weeks, or longer if you qualify for federally extended benefits. Remember, it’s your money. Your employer was paying into a state insurance fund in case something like this happened. Allison Doyle of Job Search offers a very readable rundown of what your need to know and what state unemployment people will ask for.

It’s basically your Social Security and other major i.d. numbers, your employment history and contact information for employers, how much you earned, plus one or two personal questions for security purposes if you file online. Missouri, Kansas and many other states let you do that.

Googling something like “file unemployment claims online” will put you in touch with the basics very quickly. Then there is the stuff no one tells you. First, if you’ve never filed an unemployment claim before, it feels like the first time you applied for a driver’s license, only more intense. Steroid intense. Like then, the rules are very precise. You’ll be given instructions that might not make sense. Missouri, for example, requires you to keep a log of job applications or contacts, but tells you not to take that log along if you are asked to report to its career counseling people for job searching help.

Go figure.

You’ll want to plan a little extra time to do things the first time in the unemployment benefits system. Some of the instructions you get may seem confusing. I messed up the first time I tried filing my application online and my computer timed out on me while I was trying to figure out how to put things right. Starting over became my only choice Finally, Missouri, Kansas and many other states warn on their websites that Mondays and Tuesdays are difficult days for telephoning their unemployment benefits people because of heavy volume.

Believe them.

The first time I tried, on a Tuesday afternoon, I hit the number to speak with a counselor, listened to more than 20 minutes of Muzak and the counselors are busy announcements, then got a recording which said, because of the high volume of traffic, I should go to the website or listen to prerecorded instructions, or call back the next day. Wednesday through Friday mornings are usually the best times to call and also to go to your unemployment office if you need to.

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