For those who might not know, IDWD stands for Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Immediately following my termination from the government entity where I was gainfully employed for 10 years, I of course sought unemployment benefits. I mean after all, I did work there for the majority of my adult life and I felt I was entitled to some compensation considering the way I was terminated.
Thus began my epic tale with yet another government entity; the IDWD. It started out easy enough. I paid a visit to my local WorkOne center which plays middleman to this entire process of applying for unemployment. I’m not sure what kind of training or experience is needed to work at a WorkOne center, but I can assure you it’s not much of either. Upon entering the facility, I was met by a gentleman in a security guard uniform. He was armed, so he has some training, but I don’t think he has much training as far as helping people with their unemployment experience goes. Anyway, he had me fill out a standard form that gave them my pertinent information and told them what my business was with them. I filled that out and he lead me to a computer where he had me log into the state’s system to begin filing for unemployment. Filled that out. The security guard met me and said, “Now it’s just a waiting game.” I didn’t expect that those words were that literal.
I immediately started filling out applications online because as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits one must be actively seeking employment. Proof of that is needed in the form of submitting weekly vouchers online showing where you submitted a minimum of three applications and/or resumes. Applications and resumes could be submitted online or in person, as long as you were active in your pursuit of employment. I began filling out applications on January 3rd of this year. I’ll fast forward a bit here, but I submitted more than the minimum requirement because I legitimately wanted (and still want) to find a job. About four weeks pass and my buddy, Zach, who was going through the same process, wanted to drive to Lafayette to inquire as to what was taking so long and make sure he had filled everything out correctly.
I went with Zach to Lafayette and figured that since I was there, I may as well make an inquiry as well. After all, on the IDWD website it says that it could take up to 21 days to process everything and it had been a little over four weeks at this point. I had already called a 1-800 number I found on the state’s website and they said it could take up to four weeks. So I thought the WorkOne in Lafayette might be able to shed some light on my situation as well. Little did I know, or expect, that the employees working there would be of about as much help as the ones here at my local WorkOne center. The lady I spoke to in Lafayette didn’t have much she could tell me other than, it takes time to process. She said it was currently taking four to 12 weeks. Then, if my employer denied the claim, I could file for an appeal; a process that takes eight to 10 weeks. Then if I win the appeal, I could wait an additional four to 12 weeks. Sounds about right, our government moves slower than a snail’s pace!
I had been talking about this whole process with my friend, Jenny. So once I found out the information from the Lafayette WorkOne, I text her and told her what they said. She suggested I contact my State Representative and she provided me with some contact numbers to do so. I called and spoke with my representative’s assistant and she was incredibly helpful. She requested some of my information and a brief summary of what had transpired up to that point. She said Representative Brown would make a formal inquiry on my behalf to find out why this process is taking as long as it had been. Now, I’m not sure if Representative Brown’s inquiry sped anything up, or if it was coincidental, but a few days later I found out that my claim for unemployment had been denied.
So my claim was denied. I received the letter in the mail and it instructed me to visit a WorkOne center to file the appeal. Great! That place again! So, armed with that letter, I paid another visit to my local WorkOne. I was again greeted by the security guard, he requested I fill out their form to let them know the reason for my visit, then he led me to a computer. I thought he was going to log into a super secret website set up by the state to file these appeals. Nope! He opened up Microsoft Word and told me to have a seat and type up my appeal. I asked him if he was serious; I could have done that at home. He said the appeal needed to include my name, social security number, and address. Then a brief description of why I was requesting an appeal hearing. So I sat down and put my wordsmith hat on. I composed, what I think, is a rather convincing argument as to why I not only deserve the appeal hearing, but also why I deserve to receive unemployment benefits.
After finishing my masterpiece, I called for the security guard to come back over. He had instructed me to get him when I was finished so he could print it for me. He came over to the computer and couldn’t get the document to print. He tried everything he could think of and it still wouldn’t print. I told him to press “control+p” and it would bring up the printing options. He said that computer was recently updated to Windows 8, and what I was suggesting wouldn’t work anymore. After he clicked through some options on the screen, and being afraid he was about to delete my entire appeal letter, I reached over and pressed “control+p” on the keyboard for him. Surprise, surprise – the print menu opened up. He hit print and it worked! Hallelujah! He took that letter, a cover sheet, and the letter I received in the mail, and faxed them to the appropriate place (I hope). He gave everything back to me including the fax confirmation sheet.
As I was leaving the office, he said that these appeals were taking an average of 10 weeks to get into because of the backlog. Great! I get to wait another 10 weeks to get my appeal hearing. Then it could take another four to 12 weeks to start receiving benefits. I’m hoping that I can once again find gainful employment before this whole process is complete. I can tell you one thing – it WON’T be with a government agency!