So, I am currently unemployed. About a week and a half ago I applied for unemployment, which I’m sure you can easily imagine is not fun for many reasons.

However, let me tell you about the problems I encountered and why they made me angry – and I’m not even angry primarily for myself.


Here’s why I’m angry. The website starts out being semi-easy to use but it then gets pretty hard to understand and figure out. Parts of it don’t work. They ask you to forward them “backup” information for various questions and say they will send you a “cover sheet” to include with it… then they put multiple cover sheets in your “inbox” with no indication of which is for what documentation.

For some reason I’m required to show them my social security card and a picture ID. Although I have a passport which proves identity and citizenship, apparently that’s not enough for the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment. They need to see a paper card with a number printed on it. So since I lost mine when my purse was stolen roughly 20 years ago, I had to go to the social security administration to request a new one, and I am ┬ánow waiting the 2 weeks till I get it. (Incidentally, I only had to show my driver’s license there.)

Links on the website lead to just nowhere – for instance there is a section that lists the weeks for which I can claim benefits and then a link that says “click this link to claim benefits for the above dates” and when you click it nothing happens.

Items in my “inbox” which purport to need “further information” don’t indicate what information is missing when I open them and look at them. I had to go down to the actual physical offices of the department, walk through a metal detector, give my ID to a security guard, and sit at a table of PCs and have an employee come over and show me what was missing from the forms. (FYI, it was a part that you fill out indicating who filled out the form – i.e. it sounds like you only have to fill it out if you’re filling out the forms on behalf of someone else, not if you yourself are the claimant. More confusion.)

Additionally, when I tried to call to ask questions on Monday I wasn’t able to reach a human being because Tuesday is the day I’m allowed to call because my social security number ends in a 3. OK. Makes sense.

My point is, this is all profoundly frustrating and terrible but if I were even slightly less tech-savvy or smart or capable I would be utterly unable to deal with this. I almost had like 10 meltdowns myself over it. It makes me start to believe everything is a conspiracy. #rustyshackleford

I wrote a number of furious posts about this on Twitter – here is a link to the one that started it all.

Luckily none of this made me feel bad about myself because I know I’m OK and I’ll get a job soon and there’s nothing to freak out about. But if I had less confidence, had gone through harder times in my life, or felt stupid, it would make me feel like an utter failure and loser and like things are hopeless.

Why do you have to make everything so effing hard, bureaucracy?

By the way, I do want to add that the actual human beings I’ve dealt with at the Department of Unemployment, both in person and on the phone have been extremely nice and helpful. It’s not their fault, it’s the stupid system, which they are just as unable to affect as I am. The woman who took care of my request at the Social Security Administration was great too. Thank goodness for that at least.