Grab a beverage, this one is a bit on the long side, but hopefully a bit entertaining at the silliness of our out of control government.
As many of our readers are aware of, we’re on the back side of dry spell here in Austin. Dry as in the balance of the bank account and a spell as in taking a spell from the former employer, moving the household critters and all, once again into domesticated life and away from the bachelorhood flirtation routine. Word to the uninitiated while online dating is a lot of fun initially, it merely increases the number of bad dates once might have otherwise. The idea of ‘matching’ folks is still pretty dependent on traditional methods such as hooking-up for the normal things and seeing where they take you. Entirely OT to this post however.
Things are looking pretty good professionally and that’s a Godsend because even thinking that folks of our demographic profiles, can obtain any taxpayer funded benefits before we’re paying for our own funeral benefits is ludicrous.
First up for us was unemployment benefits. The state has a website where you can apply initially, but woe unto you if you’ve departed your former employer under anything but a lay-off or business closing. Leave for reasons of termination or resignation (with damn good reason) and you have an all-expense paid entry ticket into benefit HELL. Once the system has kicked you into purgatory, you must be assigned an investigator that allegedly ‘collects’ various data, talks with you and your former employer and makes a determination to grant or deny benefits. Sounds simple right?…Wrong !!!!…. For starters it can take 3-4 weeks before your ‘case’ (ass) is even assigned to an investigator. Of course, having the luck we do, we both I believe, managed to get investigators that either had the workload of 10 people or only come into the office the 6th Tuesday of the month, between 1100-1300, not including the mandatory one-hour lunch break in there. Now that you have an investigator, he/she will begin the process of gathering information, again we’re talking lead time of potentially weeks here, as each party is given a few weeks to respond. The issue is time-dependent in that if your old bosses don’t do anything you’re automatically put into the default zone meaning they get the max time allowed before it falls onto the investigator to hopefully make a favorable decision (for you) based on whatever they have from your side of the story and whoever else is involved. (Note: Most large corporate operations have third-party insurance administrators to handle employment issues). This again means the chances of a quick resolution are impossible, because the insurance company always ‘has to get back’ to the investigator with further instructions from their client. Now you’ve been delayed the max amount of time, the investigator agrees with your side and voila you get granted benefits, retroactive, etc., etc. do you really get them now? NO? Here in Texas the state processes your payment request then funds it either into a direct deposit to your bank OR the default method is an issuance of a UI debit card, all done at whatever pace Chase Bank and the US Mail decide to operate at. Of course don’t expect to get anything quick. In my girl’s case, she was assigned an investigator and then found out that it was impossible to get in touch with her. Dozens and dozens of phone calls only resulted in a voice-mail system, you get repeated USPS letters saying “call this person or else you get denied after this date”. This is where our angst level exponentially increased. We kept getting the letters in the mail, kept calling and only getting a voicemail, called ‘around’ the system using a general 800 number only to find that 90% of the time one can’t even get into the hold queue.
I was out of clues, time and altitude so I decided to contact our local State Congresscritter’s Office. I did my research (just moved into this district mind you) and found out that it was Congressman Tony Dale a young lion of a conservative in the State House. I emailed his office with some details of our travails and I got a call from staffer Greg in less than 24 hours. Wow, I was impressed at the fast response and the conversation with Greg led me to believe we finally had some advocacy. Sure enough, we got a call the following day from the UI Investigator and M got to air her case with all the info. I took the initial call and the investigator was quite apologetic about the difficulties getting in contact with her. Pretty amazing how you can piss on a bureaucrats campfire with application of a few phone calls from the right places.
Next up, I get a call from someone about our SNAP/Foodstamp case. This lady took the call from Greg and was going to get over with the THHS case worker directly as well. Needless to say, I had a call the next morning from that person. She went over things and we determined that ‘someone’ faked the case notes such that it looked from their perspective that I was interviewed and they were waiting for me to provide them additional information. That appointment was blown off by whoever was assigned it and I had no further contact with that office until this call. Again the system is setup that it’s near impossible to ever speak with a human being. You wander about in the telephone system Valhalla and end up getting referred to the website, which refers you back to the toll-free number system. The lady took my information and was able to determine that because I was getting ‘income’ from unemployment it put me OVER the cut-off and I wasn’t entitled to get food stamp benefits. WTF? !@##$%%%%^&*J)(&&^%%% !!!!! So, let’s get this straight we’re both unemployed, but by virtue of taking unemployment benefits, I’m disqualified from getting food stamp assistance. The way their fucking rules are written, unemployment is considered income and the amount one receives is determined by the state based on your pay prior to becoming unemployed. In my case I got the max permitted and for a household of 2 adults, that’s too much. Madness, plain and simple. Fiscally, I see the point but by definition if you’re unemployed and have no other source of income, then you should automatically be eligible for some level of benefit. Sure, adjust the benefit based on unemployment compensation or even limit the length of time to receive benefits, but an arbitrary cutoff for that reason is just plain ludicrous. I’m not greedy and I would never expect to get what a growing family does, but everyone that’s on assistance of some sort should get a reasonable level of benefit. I’ve worked since age 12 and contributed my whole life as a taxpayer. The ONE time in my life I find I’m in need of help…Zippo, Nada…it’s merrily being given to people that adjust their fertility to ensure when they drop a kid, it’s on American soil, regardless that they’ve committed a felony to do exactly that.
Bottom line here in this novella…remain employed and if you find yourself otherwise, hopefully you’ll have the means to take care of yourself in the interim. Expect a fiasco and when it comes you can laugh it off. The system is wholly setup for the benefit of the permanent recipient class NOT the contributor class. That’s obvious when silly bureaucratic ‘rules’ defy common sense, unless it all applies to a certain demographic.
Thanks again gang for all the support I’ve had, if not for y’all I would’ve been up the creek long ago. There is the lesson, we can only count on each other when the chips are really down and to my way of thinking, that’s as it should be. I’ll take what little I can from the gubmint because it’s an opportunity for me to merely get back a teeny portion of what I’ve given to others by their coercion.
My humble thanks again, to Rep. Tony Dale and staff too. It’s good to find a politician that serves the constituency to the best of their ability. A solid guy, with a solid staff that’s doing just that here in Austin.
Now it’s just the old waiting game for the mail and the phone calls that are coming.
Life still sucks, but it’s getting better a bit every day.