INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - If you're unemployed, check the DWD online filing system. Thespokesman for the Department of Workforce Development saysprogramming the department's computers took less time thananticipated, and some Hoosiers can begin filing for benefitsimmediately. You can expect payment within 48 hours of filing.
If your voucher isn't online yet, don't worry. DWD leaders saythey'll add more vouchers daily.
But many Hoosiers still aren't sure whether they're eligible forthe benefit extensions. You have emailed us and written us onfacebook, saying the benefit extensions are confusing. Many of youhave told us when you phone the DWD call center, it takes a longtime to talk to a real person. And when you do, you're stillconfused.
So we taped a call center conversation with unemployedHoosier, Tiffany Thompson. When she calls she gets an automatedmessage, "Thank you for calling. You have reached the IndianaDepartment of Workforce Development,"
DWD's customer call center features numerous automated messages.In the past, Thompson has waited ten minutes or more to talk to arepresentative about her unemployment insurance claims, but DWDleaders have promised improvements.
"We've actually doubled the number of phone lines going into ourcall center in the last month to six weeks. We've actuallyincreased the staff of people who are answering the phones," saidMarc Lotter, spokesperson for the Department of WorkforceDevelopment.
We wanted to see for ourselves, so we asked Thompson to allow usto tape her call. When Thompson presses any number, she getsanother automated message. Finally, she listened to the entiremenu. The last choice is "Please hold to speak to your customerservice representative."
Bingo! She waits just 12 seconds before a representative answersthe call. Thompson wants to know whether she's eligible forextended benefits. When she visited the uplink online filingsystem, she found the word "suspended" next her claim status.
"Does that mean that I'm not eligible?, she asked therepresentative.
"No," the woman answered. "That means that you wasn't eligibleto set up a regular claim because you haven't worked and you didn'thave any wages in the base period."
Huh? Thompson doesn't understand that answer, but moves on. Sheasked a common question, "How do I know if I've exhausted mybenefits?"
"Had you stopped getting it?" the representative askedThomson.
"Well, the last day I stopped getting it was on the 14th,"Thompson replied.
"That's because they stopped them," said the call centeremployee.
"Well, the money shows that it's equal out on both sides. It'sthe same," said Thompson referring to the two columns that showfunds used and funds available. "Does this mean that I used all mymoney?"
"Does it say zero - exhausted?" the woman asked.
"No, but.." Thompson said.
"Then you haven't used all your money if it doesn't sayexhausted," the call center representative interrupted.
The conversation sounded like the old "who's on first" joke, butfor Thompson it's no laughing matter. Finally the representativelooks up Thompson's case - telling she'll be on the EB claim.
"Does that mean I'll get benefits?" Thompson asked timidly. "I'mjust trying -"
Yeah, you'll be on the EB claim," said the representativesounding annoyed.
"That's the thing that's confusing is the tiers. I'm notunderstanding how they go" Thompson answered.
"You've used your four tiers on the EUC. You'll be on the EBclaim," said the representative.
The conversation ended a short time later, and Thompson said shewas just as confused as she was before she called.
Before you phone the Department of Workforce Development's CallCenter, you have to understand the acronyms. Many viewers havewritten us to say your claims were suspended. For most people, thatmeans you've exhausted your unemployment insurance or UI. Those areyour first 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.
At that point, you have to apply for EEUC, Emergency ExtendedUnemployment Compensation. You can get those benefits for up to 53weeks.
After that you can apply for EB or Extended Benefits, the lasttier of unemployment benefits. You can get those for up to 20weeks.
For more answers to frequently asked questions click here.
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