Pat G, a long-time friend of mine and all around wonder-woman who takes photos of BIRDS OF FREAKIN PREY, was furloughed along with many of her co-workers. After the living nightmare of trying to file for unemployment insurance here in New York State, she documented her trials and asked me to post the resulting info here so that others don’t have to go through what she went through:
Pat’s message starts here:
Please, pass this info to anyone you know in NYC trying to collect unemployment insurance. Despite the Dept. of Labor’s efforts, the system is still backlogged and getting through is nearly impossible for many. I was able to get through and am shocked that not one media outlet has mentioned that there IS a way to do it.
With so many people throughout New York State filing for unemployment, the system is overwhelmed and getting through to a real life human being is near impossible. However, this IS away to get a claim processed and eventually get a person. Here is my story:
My last day working was Sunday, March 15th. Once I was let go, I immediately attempted to file for unemployment. The last time I actually collected from them was in 2011, so I figured that all my info (including direct deposit) would still be on their website. After numerous attempts to set it up on the Dept. of Labor website, I was prompted to call which I did. I was eventually able to give all my info using their automated voice system. It took about 15 minutes. The system then informed me that it was going to transfer me to someone who will complete the last step which is the interview. The phone cut off. When I would get through it would keep hanging up. This went on for three days. Finally, I clicked on the contact us link and noticed they had a twitter feed. There were complaints from fellow New Yorkers who had equally bad experiences. I saw that one was actually answered that said to direct message them. As I already have a twitter account, I subscribed to their feed, then clicked the direct message box and left a brief explanation of my dilemma. I got a reply a few minutes later asking for my name and telephone number which I gave. Less than five minutes later I got a reply saying that someone would call me.
Lo and behold, 45 minutes later, a very helpful woman did call. She patiently listened to my tale than asked for my social security number for verification. Apparently, the system worked and it did record all my info. She said that someone would call me back in two hours. 90 minutes later, I got the call and completed the interview. I was given a number to file my first claim which I did on Sunday, March 22nd. As the State has temporarily waived the 7 day wait, the money was in my checking account on Tuesday, March 22nd. I have not had a problem since.
Please pass this on to anyone filing for Unemployment. Let them know the following:
1. Do NOT file your claim online, do it over the phone.
2. Once the automated system records all your info, a voice will tell you to hold for an agent to finish your claim. One of two things will happen. Either you WILL be cut off, or a voice will tell you to call back and THEN you will be cut off.
3. When this happens, go to the NYS Department of Labor Twitter feed and leave a direct message (click the tiny envelope) [Note from Mike: It may look different in your Twitter client, so look for “Send a Private Message” or “Send a Direct Message”]
4. When they call you back, be prepared to answer questions regarding employment, etc. Have your bank account number ready if you choose direct deposit (which is the fastest way to get it).