Thirty million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits over the last six weeks. This is the story of one of those Americans.
On February 27, fifty-two-year-old Hans Theyer applied for unemployment insurance benefits for the first time in his working life. “I found the process on the website rather simple, which I appreciated,” Theyer – who had been working for an NGO in Washington, DC -- told Union City. But no benefits arrived. “I thought, okay, they're doing paperwork, they're overwhelmed because of the virus.” Logging onto the Department of Employment Services website yielded no answers. When he called, he waited in vain for hours for a live response. Finally, more than a month later, Theyer was notified that he was ineligible for benefits because he’d failed to verify his identity. He’d never received an email from DOES, which never bothered to follow up. “And together with that notification came a sheet that said if you need help, please contact” the Metro Washington Council’s Claimant Advocacy Program. Theyer admits that he was skeptical at first of a free service, but what he found at CAP was “a human being absolutely passionate about helping you succeed.”
Once he reached CAP attorney Lolita Martin, things finally began to move. “She responded in writing that same day and followed up with a call. She gave me a heads up of what this might look like in terms of the process and what she expected.” Theyer’s benefits depended on the outcome of a hearing in the case, which was scheduled for earlier this week. “I'm a professional, and I understand certain things, but I have never witnessed the logistics and the dynamics of a (UI) hearing,” Theyer said. “Without Lolita's intervention on my behalf in the conversation, I'm telling you, I wouldn't have been able to manage whatsoever.” This story, though long and painful, does have a happy ending, with the judge ruling within an hour that Theyer was entitled not only to full benefits, but to retroactive payments.
CAP services are available to those filing for DC UI; click here to find out more, including other available resources.