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New York Unemployment Resolution

August 7, 2009

A comment from Rita got me to update my unemployment situation.   I called on Monday and after 10 minute of prompts, and a fifteen minute wait time, I actually got a person who seemed genuinely shocked by my situation.  Which isn’t to say that the people at unemployment are ever jerks or mean in any way when you call them.  They just seem well aware that they ‘re tiny cogs in a hopelessly bureaucratic, red-tape-clogged machine.

The man put me on hold and went to talk with his supervisor.  He explained to me that there was a separate department that dealt with 1099, and since I’d been paid as a contractor during my “base period”, they had to approve my payments before they went through.  He said, “it look like they dropped the ball on this since it’s been pending since March.”  No kidding!  So, his supervisor called their department and he said it would go through by Friday.

The next morning, I actually got a call from a real live person at that department, and she said that she’d authorized my payments to go through.  She said it was silly that it was held up, because if they decided to pay me for my work as a contractor, which is unlikely, I made so little that it would be probably a $5 difference a week.

You might be thinking that’s the part where I go nuts on the lady, but I wasn’t mad.  New York City is the place where it takes years to get a streetlight fixed, buildings collapse onto the Metro-North railways because it takes years for the city to demolish a building after its been condemned, and you can pay $5000 in dental care to a place where the x-ray machine is kept together with electrical tape and you have to hold it in place with your hand.  In short, its a place wracked with injustice, terrible bureaucracy, and unbelievably expensive to boot.  The fact that you can do your unemployment online and don’t have to wait at some office in the Bronx is miracle enough.

So, to Rita, keep calling, over and over.  There’s no secret I discovered, you really have to wait 20-30 minutes everytime you call, and yes, sometimes the system will hang up on you.  Hopefully you’ll get someone actually sympathetic one time like I did and miraculously you’ll get paid for 4 months unemployment in one lump sum (hurray!)

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