Showing My Hand On Unemployment

Posted for your consideration and opinion, is my story and the details of how I’m appealing the decision by the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s decision to deny my benefits, two months into my receiving them. It’s a long read, but well worth it.

Originally, I was getting unemployment, just fine, after I got fired in September. Then in November, my old boss, Matt, called them and told them I was self-employed, which I wasn’t. I was working part time.
So they did a phone hearing and in the process, asked me to fax in the work search history I had done to date.
I sent them 9 interviews in 10 weeks, plus listed daily newspaper and internet job site searches.
Well, they denied me, claiming that I was self 0-employed and wasn’t doing an active enough search for work.
So I appealed.
A month later, in December, I had a phone hearing with an Administrative judge from Chicago, who went over my job search and asked about my part time job.
Well, he denied me, saying I wasn’t doing an active enough job search, so I went online and researched all the regulations and found out a few things.
1, there is no definable number of how many jobs you are supposed to try for per week.
2, they have to take certain things into consideration, including my training and experience (They cannot make me go from being a graphic designer to a burger flipper), what I’m used to making (They can’t make me take a minimum wage job, when I was used to making a lot more), the current job situation and availability of jobs that are within my experience and wage AND that job search assistance services ARE considered part of an active job search.
So I appealed the judge’s decision based on the above points, and detailed them all in my appeal.
I had a phone hearing last Wednesday with the director of the local office, who wanted my job search history for Nov 9th to Present and I sent in like 5 jobs, plus the internet and paper. Keep in mind that Christmas Week and New Years Week, finding a job would have been about impossible, with most offices closed most of that time.
And SHE denied me, I found out today, for the period of 11/9 to present for not an active job search.
Well, I KNOW they did not make an educated decision, because she didn’t include the period prior to 11/9, which is exactly WHAT I was appealing in the 1st place and obviously ignored the code that backs my case up.

Here is my Appeal:

REQUEST FOR APPEAL
Hearing held by telephone on 01/07/2009 at 11:00AM by Kathy Steinseifer, E. S. Service Representative, Peoria, IL

All instances of Claimant will refer to Gregory J. Hansen, SSN xxx-xx-xxxx

Claimant was denied Unemployment Benefits due to “an unrealistic and independent search for suitable work” and was found ineligible for benefits.
Referred to Section 500C of the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act.
Research by the claimant of The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, Section 500C which defines eligibility based on an individual actively seeking work and refers to 56 Illinois Administrative Code 2865.125.

1. In the application process, an individual filing for unemployment is not ever advised on how many job searches per week the applicant is expected to perform.
2. Nowhere in the Illinois Unemployment Act, nor the Illinois Administrative Code, does it define the number of job searches an individual claiming unemployment is expected to perform.
3. Upon direct questioning of various employees of The Department of Unemployment Security, no one was able to give a direct answer to the question of how many job searches are required by any individual claiming unemployment benefits. Typical responses were “enough to show an active and reasonable effort to find employment.”
4. The term “reasonable” is not defined in the Illinois Administrative Code or The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act.
Upon researching the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act and The Illinois Administrative Code as it pertains to Unemployment, the following discoveries were made in regards to the criteria used to determine if an applicant for unemployment insurance is eligible for benefits and actively searching for work:

1. According to The Illinois Unemployment Act, Part XI, Section 500:
An unemployed individual is eligible for benefits for a week only if:
a. He has registered for work and reports at regular intervals in person, by mail or by telephone at an Illinois Department of Employment Security office as required by the Director. (Section 500A and 56 Ill. Adm. Code 2865.125(a)(1)).
b. He has made a claim for benefits at the local Department of Employment Security office serving the area in which he lives. (Section 500B and 56 Ill. Adm. Code 2720.100)

3. During the week, he is able to work, available for work and actively seeking work. (Section 500C and 56 Ill. Adm. Code 2865.125)

An individual is presumed to be unavailable for work if:
a. After his separation from his most recent work, he has moved to and remains in a locality where job opportunities for him are substantially less favorable than those in the locality he has left. (Section 500C3)
b. His principal occupation is that of a student in attendance at, or on vacation from, a public or private school.

However, an individual enrolled in and attending a Department approved training course may, under specified conditions, be considered available for work. Such an individual will not be required to seek work and will not be disqualified under Section 603 for work refusal.(Sections 500C4 and 5)

The Above Section, in Italics, Does Not Apply In This Instance Since The Claimant Has Not Relocated Nor Is The Claimant A Student.

4. During the week, he has participated in reemployment services to which he has been referred, including but not limited to job search assistance services.
5. He has served a non-compensable waiting period of one week in which he has met all the eligibility requirements. (Section500D)

Claimant has asked if paragraph 4, as it relates to reemployment services, would include newspaper and internet search sites and was told that they “should” qualify.
Claimant listed daily searches of the Peoria Journal Star, Monster.com, careerbuilder.com, peoriahelpwanted.com, and hotjobs.yahoo.com in the work search history that was submitted, upon request, to the local Unemployment office. Claimant has been led to believe that these should count as an additional 35 active job searches per week, based on the information given by various agents of The Department of Unemployment Security.

The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, Part XI, Section 500 goes on to say:
The Department shall consider the following in evaluating the adequacy of an individual’s work search (56 III. Adm. Code 2865.125):
1. The individual’s physical and mental abilities.
2. The individual’s training and experience.
3. The employment opportunities in the area.
4. The length of the claimant’s unemployment.
5. The nature and number of the claimant’s work search efforts.
6. The customary means of seeking employment in the occupation(s) in which the claimant seeks employment.
7. Any other information that would affect the claimant’s work search.

Paragraph 2 states that The Department of Unemployment Security must take into account the claimant’s training and experience, which is in Advertising Sales and Graphic Design. Therefore, The Department of Unemployment Security, by regulation, cannot demand that an applicant look for work outside of his training and experience.
Paragraph 3 reads that The Department of Unemployment Security must, by regulation, consider the employment opportunities in the area. In the course of the phone interview conducted on 01/07/2009, the representative of The Department of Unemployment Security admitted that job opportunities in the Peoria, IL area are bleak. The average rate of unemployment in the Peoria, IL area at the time of the interview, according to statistics, was at or above 10%, which is substantially higher than the national average.

In accordance with Paragraph 6, claimant has used email, telephone and in person visits to search for and apply for gainful employment.
Claimant listed multiple attempts to secure employment in those fields in the work search history that apply to his work experience and training, as submitted upon request to The Department of Unemployment Security.
Claimant has also stated that the lack of a current driver’s license and reliable transportation, and that his reliance on public transportation limits the job search process, which should not count against the claimant.

Also, The Illinois Unemployment Act, Part XI, Section 500 goes on to read that benefits shall not be denied if:

No work shall be deemed suitable and benefits shall not be denied to any otherwise eligible individual for refusing to accept new work under any of the following conditions:
1. If the position offered is vacant due directly to a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute;
2. If the wages, hours, or other conditions of the work offered are substantially less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality;
3. If, as a condition of being employed, the individual would be required to join a company union or to resign from or refrain from joining any bona fide labor organization;
4. If the position offered is a transfer to other work offered to the individual by the employing unit under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or pursuant to an established employer plan, program, or policy, when the acceptance of such other work by the individual would require the separation from that work of another individual currently performing it.

Paragraph 2 refers to wages, hours or other conditions offered. Claimant’s last job, at United Metro Works, in Peoria, IL paid the claimant $14.00 an hour and provided full time employment. By regulation, a claimant cannot be forced to accept work that pays substantially less than his most current work experience, or what is “favorable to the individual”, which should include his current rate of Unemployment Benefits. The purpose of Unemployment Insurance is to provide a weekly payment that is commensurate to the applicant’s most recent earnings, as certified by his work and earnings history, and to provide ample time and opportunity to secure new employment that, as shown in paragraph 2, as being “favorable to the individual”. Therefore, it goes against the regulations, as shown, to demand that an individual accept a noticeably lower paying job, outside of the individual’s work experience and training, just to “get off of Unemployment”, a statement made to the claimant during the appeals process.
Claimant has continued to make periodic certifications for benefits throughout the course of this process, as required.

Furthermore,
Unemployment Insurance is an earned benefit provided to workers who are unemployed due to no fault of their own, so that they can maintain a financial income, until gainful employment is secured, with a limit of 26 weeks.
Because of these repeated denials; the claimant has been unable to maintain his financial obligations, nor provide for his family in the means accustomed to and afforded by his prior work experience. This has also cause emotional duress and family strife, stress and depression within the claimant’s household.
Claimant has been forced to sign up for food stamps, emergency utility assistance and other aid as provided by State agencies, which is an added financial expense to the state and is a source of embarrassment and ridicule within the claimant’s family and peers, which goes directly against the purpose of Unemployment Benefits..
Claimant has also been forced to take immediate work at a noticeably lower wage than his recent earnings history, outside of his most recent work experience, in an effort to secure any income at all, which goes against the purpose of Unemployment Insurance Benefits. The job entails selling specialty advertising to businesses nationwide and pays commission upon collection of any sales made, which is incredibly difficult, given today’s economy and the claimant is currently being paid off of a draw system.
Furthermore,
The Denial is for the period of 11/09/2008 through 01/13/2009. The original appeal and the original denial were for the period of 08/31/2008 through 01/13/2009. The original appeal also quoted most of what has been presented here, but little of that was discussed in the phone interview, held on 01/07/2009. This oversight seems to imply that a hasty decision was rendered to deny benefits, based on opinion and not on the regulations as stated in The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act.
It is not acceptable to expect an applicant for unemployment to live upi standards that cannot be defined since they do not exist.

Claimant requests that, because he has lived up to the expectations as outlined in the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, and, because there are no guidelines defining how many job searches per week are required, and, because the decision to deny has been made hastily based on opinion and not regulation, and, based on the above listed findings, the decision to DENY be overturned and that claim for Unemployment Insurance Benefits be APPROVED, effective immediately, and, the debt for the amount paid to the claimant since 08/31/2008 that was requested to be returned to The Department Of Unemployment Security be forgiven, and all benefits upheld since 11/09/2008 be paid immediately.
Claimant requests that this appeal be expedited, due to extreme financial hardship.
Gregory J Hansen, Claimant.

 

From February 20, 2009

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