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About Me .. aka Chris - 

Hi to all, especially if you're unemployed, or concerned you may be about to be.

My goal when I began nine years ago, was to practice building a business website, so I could one day escape the nagging feeling I was only cutout to be a company's minion.

I just hate that feeling .. don't you.

What made the feeling worse was in my heart, I knew I had no one to blame for continuing to feel like that .. except myself.

After all, I was a hearing coordinator for a cost control company. I prepped witnesses for hearing, gathered documentation,  dealt daily with state appeal sections all across the country and knew the basic argument well enough to see the danger.  

I was also well prepared to be constantly managing my own claim .. should I get laid off, fired for something other than misconduct, or voluntarily quit my job for good cause reason I could meet the burden of proof with.

Some might say .. I was paranoid, I would argue I'd of had to be totally dense to not be .. considering some of the unemployment stories told to me by employer's direct witnesses.

If you want to comment on your job experience, job loss, or unemployment claim appeal, all you need to do is keep your story relevant, objective and generally enough for me to answer directly, or float an idea for a basic argument that may work.. right here.

Or, if you need more detailed advice, might I suggest inquiring about the services I may be able to provide here.

It's my job now .. assisting you with unemployment .. as a self employed person .. not covered by unemployment insurance .. at least in the state where I live.

The Secret to Collecting Unemployment Benefits is Managing the Claim You Lost a Job Through No Fault of Your Own

Of course, this is also the secret for employer who hope they too can show the opposite to deny unemployment benefits.

After years coordinating UI appeal cases for employers, I made one assumption about proving the truth of any unemployment story.  

To prove a truth is credible, it all works better if you do more than just talk the truth and can corroborate it via evidence .. or any additional direct testimony you may need about the final incident .. as opposed to testimony and evidence called hearsay .. or irrelevant to the cause for a voluntary quit, or discharge for misconduct.

So why don's people collect when I think there is a real possibility for them to get and keep unemployment benefits?  Well they lack the ability to corroborate and weight their own direct testimony (the talk) when participating in the first, and usually only,  full fact finder tribunal appeal hearing.  In fact, it's the combination of testimony and evidence needed, that cause me, the person who just coordinated hearings to request postponements for employers on a daily basis .. 

I didn't know when I accepted this job, what would become second nature to me about protecting an employer's rights to due process .. before a hearing ever took place, but I know that is what saved my bacon after I was laid off .. while on an approved FMLA leave.

It was 2006, but how I was told about my job being eliminated, didn't feel as benign as I would of liked, so I did not accept without reservation, what my employer told me.   Instead, I proceeded as if I could do something about my suspicion the date I was to return from an FMLA leave, was also the day my position would be eliminated .. was just to convenient.

Seems all those years of experience coordinating appeals for employers, gave way to a habit that if you smell something's fishy, there may be merit for the smell. 

I wasn't surprised my job  had been "eliminated",  but I was so used to being on the lookout for the potential fallout of how the business end of things,  might logistically/ strategically, attempt to reduce the impact on UI tax rates caused by a workforce reduction (or just the elimination of redundancy of extra human assets)  this human asset wasn't about to stumble or make the fatal mistake causing her own ineligibility to help her employer find an argument to stop benefits with.

On a personal level it was this indifference of some small, but mostly large employers, that made doing my job to the best of my ability and objectively, sometimes quite an impossible task.

But, I was more bothered by the apathetic efforts of claimants to get the right facts out and onto the record of a hearing.  I chalked this up to what saw as a gross lack of public information,  that might help them understand how to manage an unemployment claim to see ahead and focus from the beginning, on how to win an unemployment hearing.

To win, I suggest there is a need to look forward before all that's left to do after filing a claim is take a look backwards.

So armed with this understanding from watching the path of many erroneously denied claims and lost hearings, what I did, was proceed knowing any unemployment story can be made more credible, with the evidentiary support of a solid paper trail .. as long as it weights only relevant facts one should focus on when speaking with an unemployment department and hauled my aching butt off the sofa  I'd been recovering on to check dates on the FMLA paperwork I'd received while in the hospital.

Suffice it to say, I wasn't shocked to notice there was a discrepancy on the leave paperwork for the return to work date my doctor had given me, which was also the date my employer had told me the would be eliminated.  The leave paperwork said I was to return a week before I was to be laid off.  

I could see the fishiness of an employer's response.

"Claimant voluntarily quit employment when they failed to return to work from an approved leave of absence."

Suffice it to say, I bet the farm this wasn't an accident, but  intent.  

So what should a reasonable person do?  Well, I waged an email campaign to get that date changed on the FMLA paperwork. 

Resistance from the leave management company to change the date confirmed the speculation and forced me to call my doctor to ask if he could possibly release me back to work a week earlier.  But as luck would have it, my doctor was out of the country on a European vacation and wouldn't be back until a week after my "highly" anticipated layoff date.

It's highly unlikely anyone would describe me as being apathetic, but they might tell you I'm a persistent .. or more like a dog with a bone, or like my husband says .. too bullheaded to not know when to give up.

PERSISTENCE paid off .. and it came with emails to settle any arguments about whose facts were more credible facts.

Whether I imagined the intent to keep me from my benefits, or not, the ace I had up my sleeve was that to manage an unemployment claim when you're the unemployed person .. isn't that different from  how you manage a claim .. or appeal for employers .. you hope there is evidence in support of the story you need to get across to the unemployment department .. or you hope the other side doesn't have evidence in support, or even know what parts of their story are important to tell the unemployment department about.

If only it had ended there .. 

Once I was all better, as in able and available to work, I filed for benefits and began the grueling work of being unemployed.   I kept a well documented search for new suitable employment

(Logging a job  search is a requirement found in many claimant handbooks, some even have a log sheet for you to make copies of.   Your search for a job is related  to being conditionally eligible to continue collecting once approved and in some state your job search is permanent issue that is listed on hearing notices right there with  "good cause for voluntarily quitting, discharges for work misconduct and in some states with other conditional eligibility issues .. such a a "refusal of suitable work". 

I was still waiting for the monetary determination (the first initial determination that tells you how much unemployment will be paying you each week) when my former employer contacted me by email this time, rather than insisting on just talking when they told me I was to be laid off.

They asked me to come in and apply for open positions in other departments.  

Not exactly what I'd call a bona fide, or even proven offer of suitable employment, but hey, I knew enought to fear the dreaded "informational letter", often sent via none other than the unemployment fraud button found on just about every state UI website more easily than what might actually help .. a link to regulations and/or precedent unemployment decisions. 

I once again assumed the worst .. that the offer was merely another ploy to toy with my benefits with a future letter if I had refused to apply for a different job.

There is nothing to compare with how you feel if your claim is flagged, or your benefits are suspended pending an investigation .. but once again, I knew I had to manage my claim.

Email as an employee and an individual is my method to document anything I think might be necessary to save, but from the time before I was laid off .. I was using email consistently, to weight my story to be the factual story that could be deemed as more credible .. just in case there was an appeal. 

No, I did not jump for joy when I received an email offering the job  as a TAX auditor, but curiously, when they withdrew the offer a few days later .. due to a company wide hiring freeze, my employer was so kind to tell me via a phone call.  

If you think I was paranoid to followed up on that phone call, with another email to verify the phone conversation had actually taken place, I don't understand why,  but  you might want to know it paid off when the state called me later and asked, if I had refused an offer of work.

Go figure .. I was able to manage my claim to benefits .. one more time and thanks to the employer who kept throwing all the cheap shots .. to stop benefits.

Yet when my former manager, and she said she was sorry, but she'd been instructed to ask me to come back to work my eliminated job .. I knew managing things was over.  

The only caveat that kept me from refusing and giving up benefits on my own was I really do need to earn money to live and  it was only for just six more months, but this was the real kicker, I would be working through a staffing agency that was also a client of my former employer.

S*%T .. 

I knew that by accepting the six month temp assignment I was now an employee of a temp agency.

By the time 2009 rolled around my temp job was paying me to coordinate appeals for 350 new hearing notices each week  .. which was up from about 80 in 2006.  Yet, they refused to pay me for more than 40 hours per week .. although they and the cost control company was fully aware I was working close to 70 hours a week and still not able to keep up.

Being a temp employee was not a choice I was willing to live with for the rest of my working life, but as luck would have it, I had a new health problem develop and they thought I should ignore it just like they were.

Once again .. what I did for a living saved me from being denied unemployment after I quit the same job as a hearing coordinator in 2009 for reasons of health .. but only after objectively exploring and exhausting all reasonable alternatives to preserve the employment first by asking for a minor work accommodation to reduce my workload to what was doable in 40 hours per week.

I felt I could prove good cause for quitting the temp assignment, as I had medical documentation the employer opted to ignore for some reason unknown to me.  What I wasn't expecting from the temp agency however, when I contacted them for another work assignment because of a temp worker provision in my state's unemployment law .. was that a temp agency would actually fire me. 

I asked for a new work assignment and was told I was a  DO NOT USE because I quit the assignment both my former employer and temp employer, said they couldn't offer an accommodation for.

Who was being unreasonable now .. I asked when I heard this .. then I said, I guess I'll be seeing you at the unemployment hearing.

My job preparing to deny benefits helped me one more time.  This time however, the employer fought me from the initial determination they appealed to get a hearing, to the pathetic board of review argument .. which was dismissed .. because there was no misapplication of UI law, or other hearing officer error.

Wish I had a microphone ..  I'd drop it from my soapbox right here, right now.

Whether cause (the burden) is an employer's .. or an employee's to prove, it's proving, or rebutting quasi-legally, the relevant facts, that makes you not at fault for the cause of a job separation .. be it a quit, or a discharge.


Working Smarter

The blog form found below is the one I use to discuss and curate what other have to say about working smarter for a living.

Yet it is the same type of blogging form other have used over the years to submit questions about unemployment benefits, or conditions of their employment.

If you don't like this form, then you could also use the one found at the bottom of the page about Employee Rights. (It includes a precedent unemployment decision if you want to understand how not exercising a right, can also be a reason to deny your UI benefits.

Articles to Help You Work Smarter, or See Outside the At-Will Employment Box

Click to find questions and article that may help you work smarter while an employee, or unemployed.

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