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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: I had to make many, many calls about my unemployment benefits. This is a crisis

Unemployment rises
A man browses job listings at the Rubicon Programs One Stop Career Center in San Francisco on April 3.
(Getty Images)

To the editor: People should know that despite the enactment of a stimulus bill providing emergency unemployment benefits for people newly out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, benefits are actually going out to a small portion of applicants.

This week I finally got my issues sorted out, but I was extremely lucky, as I had to jump through a number of hoops. Previously, the website for checking my benefits would not even allow me to log in. I had to call hundreds of times to speak with a live person, who told me that they were completely bogged down and couldn’t do much but tell us to wait.

My food stamps are exhausted, I had not received income in more than a month, and I know that many, many others are in much deeper arrears than myself. Many families are on edge; a quick search on social media for unemployment stories reveals that our collective mental health will decline seriously if this isn’t rectified now.

If people cannot get their unemployment benefits when they need them, crime will most likely increase and manifest itself in ways that will potentially be even more damaging to our society than the virus itself. Things will only get worse, when all we are trying to do is get better.

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Garrett Mikell, Los Angeles


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