I-Team 8

Unemployment complications heightened for seniors

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Understanding the unemployment system is difficult as is, but can become unbearable for those not used to computer technology.

“There should be help available just for people that don’t have access to it. Because a lot of people don’t even own a computer and things are really computerized,” says Mary Jo Dannenbrink. “So [there’s a] disadvantage sometimes.” 

Dannenbrink, a hair stylist at Clip Art, tells I-Team 8 she filed for unemployment benefits after hair salons were shut down due to the pandemic. It’s been a year and half and she has yet to receive a paycheck. Fortunately, she had her daughter to help her make calls and fill out forms, but that still hasn’t gotten her any new results.

“I had to keep repeating my identification and prove where I worked [several times with totally different people],” explains Dannenbrink. “People that answered the phone in the unemployment office have little scripts [that] I feel like they follow and they give you the answers that they think that you want, but there’s no solution.”

Monday, state Rep. Ryan Hatfield, a Democrat, said he’s hearing from struggling seniors, too.

“[It’s wrong.] To come in and say, ‘Oh, by the way, we need that money back’ even though you spent it on your utilities, you don’t have any job or any way to repay us and you’re on a fixed income probably for the rest of your life,” says Hatfield. “But we’re going to hound you and make it miserable anyways.”

Dannenbrink is back to beautifying her clients, but as the days go on, she says she’s losing trust with those in power.  

“It’s a struggle in the fence there. I have to see some results.” 

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