I would like you to read my story. If you think it’s worth looking into or reprinting, I would urge you to do so, if not for my own benefit, then for those who are less fortunate than even I seem to be.
My husband, who has been collecting unemployment for six months or so, called Teleserve this past weekend to certify for benefits for yet another jobless week, and was told that his claim “could not be processed at this time.” We were aghast, poorer than we should have been, due to circumstances created by a broken system, and hard-up to pay the rent. We had to reach someone in order to find out what to do next!
Monday morning came, and he began the arduous process of trying to reach someone in the Unemployment office, only to be disconnected umpteen times “due to heavy call volume”.
After being disconnected time and again for over an hour, I decided to reach out to a friend of mine who is also on RI Unemployment. She stated that the same message had been relayed to her about her claim not being able to be processed, and it was only then that I realized that it wasn’t just my husband…it was everyone on Unemployment in the state of RI that was trying to figure out what was going on and attempting to reach the UI office at the same time he was.
There was no automated message, there was no explanation. The confusion and panic was running rampant, and the State was doing nothing to stop the hysteria. We were on our own with no way to contact anyone about how, when and where our much-needed money would appear.
This rang a bell in my memory bank sometime during the brouhaha. I Googled “RI Teleserve Problem”, and came up with a link that led me to a story from EXACTLY one year ago.
This EXACT SAME situation arose last year with RI Unemployment, and they blamed their automated system, but I thought, “What are the chances?” How does this happen two years in a row?
I’ll betcha it wasn’t a mistake either time. Seems to me to be too big of a coincidence! Somehow, keeping the jobless from getting paid when they are expecting to be (and believe me, when we NEED TO BE) is benefitting the State of Rhode Island, and they just think we’re too stupid to catch on.
This led me to question the situation that Unemployment put us into that led us to so desperately NEED to be paid this week.
Back in May, my husband lost his $50,000 plus commission per year job, and we were forced to collect RI Unemployment for the second time in three years due to layoffs. The amount he was finally approved to collect was over $500.00 per week, which was based on his earnings from his most recent company, and just barely enough to make the bills. We could work with that, even though I was six months pregnant and held only a part-time position with my company.
However, after thirteen weeks at that pay rate, Unemployment sandbagged us. They denied my husband any further access to that rate of pay, telling him that there was still money left on an old claim from 2010-2011…one from a job that paid more than $20,000 per year LESS than the one he had just separated from! The new benefit rate on this claim would now be over $200.00 per week less than the old rate that we were just barely making the bills receiving!
This continued for months, bringing us to the point that we have begged and borrowed from everyone we know, scratching and pleading for enough money to live, forgoing things such as a crib for my newborn and new school clothes for my six year old. I have not bought one thing for myself in so long; it seems like an eternity ago that it was okay for me to do so!
That’s just my story. Luckily, I have relatives and friends I can count on. Hand-me-downs and food banks are the norm now, but at least they exist for me.
There are hundreds, THOUSANDS out there who have been bamboozled and flimflammed by the State of Rhode Island, who keeps falsifying record Unemployment numbers, who holds onto payments due to the less fortunate during the holidays as a practice. If they have no one to rely on like I am so fortunate to have, where are they this New Year? Out in the cold, both literally and figuratively, from what I can tell.