Due to receiving more than 200 letters thus far from those who submitted letters to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support , I need to create multiple posts.
The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support is held a hearing on June 10 titled: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment. I asked readers of Rochester Unemployment Examiner to send me letters they wrote to the Committee that they also wanted to have published here.* Below are some of those letters. I’ll be posting other letters as I receive permission.
There is still time to write; you can submit letters to House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support is holding a hearing until the close of business on June 24.
I want to thank all of you for including me in your letters to the Hearing. I will do my best to reply to each and everyone of you in a timely fashion.
From M.H. in KS:
Re: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment
To ALL members of the U.S. Congress & the President of the United States of America
I am a 57 year old male who has worked for over 43 years.
I have always paid my Income Taxes, and paid into the Social Security System, as outlined by our government.
Like so many MILLIONS of other Americans, through no fault of my own, I was laid-off from my most recent employer of over 16 years, on October 6th, 2008. I was the Quality Manager of a manufacturing company that went from a 24/7 operation to one 8 hour shift.
I am a divorced father with custody of my 14 year old daughter. (Due to what will be stated in this letter, I MAY be forced to give custody to my ex-spouse…that, I should NOT be forced to do…my daughter deserves better from HER country)
I am not someone who has looked to my government to “pay my way”, and have never approved of what many Americans referred to as the “American Welfare System”.
Again, like millions of other hard-working, dedicated Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of our own, I have found that companies do not want to hire a 57 year old, divorced, white male, who hasn’t worked for over 1 & ½ years. The daily frustrations that I have experienced cannot be put into words. One has to “live it” by being in this position and by reading comments from the “still-employed” Americans, who think that anyone who hasn’t found new employment after this length of time, must be lazy, unmotivated, worthless, looking for the old Welfare scams, and only wanting to be on full-time vacation. If they only knew how far from the truth this is for MOST, if not ALL of us. I have sent resumes, had interviews, made phone calls, have visited companies that aren’t advertising any current openings just to have an application on file “in case” something becomes available…I can’t even keep track anymore of the hundreds (thousands?) of these over the last year & ½.
I have received Extended Benefits through the “Unemployment” system, Tiers I, II, & III, but the State of Kansas did not have a Tier IV, as some other states put into place. I have exhausted all benefits made available to me, and am still unemployed as of this writing.
I was one of the “lucky” Americans, who after working many years, was able to live the so-called “American Dream”, of owning my own home, along with owning 2 vehicles.
Due to the state of the economy, and the decision by Congress to no longer “HELP” Americans such as myself, I was forced to file bankruptcy. I lost my “dream”..our 4-bedroom home..our new car..health insurance (as well as health, in general), dignity, respect, good credit rating, and many, many other things.
Not only did we have to move from our house (our HOME) to an apartment, I now can no longer afford to pay the rent, buy food, pay for gasoline for my “used” 2002 VW, or pay utilities (which includes phone & computer, and they are my last resorts for further seeking of employment). All of this because Congress has decided that I am not entitled to receive any further assistance from my country.
This is while I continue to read of the BILLIONS of dollars my country is giving to foreign countries to assist them through the “disasters” they have encountered… or “bailing out” the Banking & Auto industries with BILLIONS because “we can’t afford to let them fail”…
…What about us???… the Americans who have encountered this “disaster” in our lives…do you honestly feel it’s OK to let US “fail”, and that we don’t need the help of OUR OWN COUNTRY?
H.R.4213 does NOT address the “Long-Term” unemployed, those of us without further available “Tiers”. It only addresses giving the “shorter-term” unemployed an additional amount of time to file for an extension of their benefits. Even this hasn’t PASSED Congress – YET.
While you’re on vacation, or approving your own pay raises, some of us are on the brink of becoming completely homeless…What did WE do wrong??? … and “vacation”? What is that? I can’t even imagine that “luxury” anymore.
Do we NO LONGER EXIST to the people we elected to Congress to help lead our country. If what I have read is correct, and I believe it is, those of us who have exhausted ALL benefits, are no longer “on the books”, so we aren’t included in the figures/Unemployment % reported to/by the Press. We should be included, not FORGOTTEN!!! What is the TRUE percentage if you INCLUDE us? We ARE unemployed…Why play with the numbers to make the economy look like it’s improving, when in fact, it is NOT for some/most Americans…Tell the American public the TRUE NUMBERS…we DO exist, even if Congress wants to ignore us, or at a minimum, not want to deal with us.
As we all know, the oil damage in the Gulf of Mexico currently has the main focus of the Press, but please give the “damage” to the American people YOUR main focus…we deserve to NOT be forgotten.
There are internet blogs that I have read that are quite disturbing, and show the true desperation of some Americans. Some have said they are going to commit crimes just to have a “roof over their head” and to have their children become “Wards of the State” so that they will receive care & housing that the parent can no longer supply…Others have stated they are ready to commit suicide so that their children will receive life insurance and/or “survivor benefits” rather than see them forced to “live on the streets”… How much of this do we need to see actually start happening before this desperation is realized?
PLEASE help us…we NEED your help…we DESERVE your help…we were NOT the cause of the current state of our economy, or the loss of OUR AMERICAN DREAM….
“Jobs Programs” will be a great benefit to the entire country, when & if they work, but that will take quite a lengthy time to re-employ all who have lost employment.
Of course employment several months (or longer) from now is better than “not at all”, but…PLEASE include a TIER V to the Extended Benefits program and add it NOW, and to ALL states…not after 3 months of additional debate, and to only a select group of states, using incomplete data of the TRUE Unemployment %…we can NOT survive that long without help from our country…
I could write for days on this subject, but I know it would most likely be placed to the side without review, so I will end here and state…
… I believe in MY country and hope that my country believes in those of us who needs “her” help….
“… OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, AND FOR THE PEOPLE…”
Respectfully & Sincerely
From L.T. in SC:
RE: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment
Dear Senator McDermott,
I am writing this letter in response to ANOTHER 4 hour day at the Unemployment Office in South Carolina. Suicide is becoming more and more attractive each day I survive.
I recently turned 53 and up until three years ago I felt my life fairly blessed. I started working @ 12 as a babysitter and officially was on the Social Security books in 1973.
In November of 2006 my beloved Mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer & given 6 months to live. In January of 2007 I lost my job as a Licensed Customhouse Broker, (my original license was issued in 1986 by the then U.S. Treasury Dept., now “Homeland Security), a career I had for over 20+ years. In April 2007 my husband of 13 years abandoned me. I’ve lost my home, car, even my pets. I have NOTHING. I have little to no family as I was unable to have children and my family is extremely small. In fact I only really have a Aunt in Maine, (who is also suffering due to the economy) and a sister in Charleston with two children ALSO not able to help me. If not for the blessing of a friend I would be on the streets! Literally! I’m sure you are not aware, (it’s another one of American’s dirty little secrets), but there is NO WHERE for a WOMAN to go, (shelter), unless they are physically abused or have children. I do not fall under either of the two “qualifications”. There ARE men shelters. Can “someone” explain this to me? Never mind, that’s another issue and not the purpose of this letter.
This being said my last date of “employment” was June 8th, 2009. I held a couple of jobs working for “call centers”, (I would describe these positions very close to being operated the same way as “sweatshops”), but other than that I can’t get a job ANYWHERE. I have moved four times in the past year, (in South Carolina and Florida), living with friends. No home. No Job. No Security. No family. No feeling of worth.
Unfortunately having had a somewhat unorthodox career I “pigeon-holed” myself where my skills are somewhat limited albeit I’m pretty sure I could flip a burger. Did you know that when you apply on-line, (which 98% of places I have applied to require), that McDonald’s does not even offer an application or a place to “paste” a resume. Instead you answer a 50+ “assessment” questionnaire. I’ve done so many with so many companies but I think a question such as “Do you think smoking is harmful for your health?” is not only mundane but asinine as well.
So, here we are. 10 million, 20 million, 30 million? Really, does anyone really know how many of AMERICANS are unemployed? How many have just given up? How many HAVE committed suicide?
My experience with the South Carolina Employment Commission, (or whatever they are calling themselves now since the discovery of how inept the offices are), has been overwhelming. I went from February of this year until May without receiving a single dime. I myself initiated my four month quest by going into the Charleston, SC office, (where I had lived for 20+ years), to ask WHY I had not been called in for an “eligibility” review. Out of 16 weeks I was either in the Charleston or Greenville “One Stop” office 14 times! By the way, The Greenville News, recently had a headline story that aside from the “Commission” being “run amok” the reporter also quoted that of the 1100 S.C. agency employees, 300 of them had returned to work after retirement. These retirees returned to jobs that were NEVER posted for us regular folk.
In closing I am “grateful” my Mother did not live to see what has happened to my life. I am “grateful” she will never have to know I had to pawn her jewelry in order to “survive”. Most of all I am “grateful” she never had to see what America has become. I grew up in Leesburg, VA.. I know what goes on “inside” the beltway. I watch CSPAN and see NOTHING going on.
I am pleased to see you are on “our” side. Of course you are only one Senator and of course you have never experienced, (nor will any of your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren), experience what “normal” AMERICANS are losing or have lost. This is NOT my America. Greed and Politics have won. No wonder the comparison’s to the fall of the Roman Empire. We’re there!
WE NEEDA TIER V!
Thank you for your time and consideration in reading this letter. I pray “someone” on your staff will point out MY letter and help me to regain a life and perhaps just a little bit of dignity.
From N.M. in FL:
URGENT—-URGENT — URGENT —-URGENT——-URGENT
WE NEED UNEMPLOYMENT AND COBRA 65% DISCOUNT TO BE EXTENDED UNTIL THE END OF 2010
THE HEALTH CARE BILL DOES NOT KICK IN FOR 4 YEARS,
IF PREXISTING CONITIONS WERE NOT BLOCKED FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS AND PRICING WAS FAIR AND UNEMPLOYMENT WAS EXTENDED OUT UNTIL THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WAS DOWN, I MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET AFFORDABLE INSURANCE- BUT DUE TO THE WAY THE HEALTH CARE BILL IS- I CANNOT AND NEITHER CAN OTHERS.
WHAT GOOD IS THAT?
WE NEED EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT TO A LONG TIER V.AND 65% COBRA EXTENDED IMMEDIATELY.
IT IS URGENT THAT YOU EXTEND COBRA 65% BENEFITS OUT FOR THE UNEMPLOYED. IT IS ALSO URGENT THAT YOU IMMEDIALTLY EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR ALL AMERICANS WHO HAVE OR WILL BE ENDING TIER 4.
TIER 5 FOR ALL IS A MUST AND VERY QUICKLY FOR BOTH.
PLEASE READ MY STORY
I AM 63 YEARS OLD, MY 3 WEEKS OF EB EXPIRED JUNE 5, 2010
(I DID NOT GET THE 20 WEEKS IN FLORIDA, I ONLY GOT 3 WEEKS BECAUSE OF THE JUNE 5TH END DATE AND TIER 3 CAME IN SO I NEVER STARTED MY 20 WEEKS OF EB UNTIL TIER 4 RAN OUT.)
AND MY COBRA 65% DISCOUNT EXPIRED MAY 31ST 2010, UNLESS IT IS EXTENDED TO SAVE US I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO…
WE TOOK OUR SOCIAL SECURITY EARLY ONLY SO WE COULD PAY OUR BILLS AND NOT DEPEND ON MEDICAID HOUSING ASSISTANCE ETC.WE THEREFORE LOST A LOT OF OUR FUTURE IN BENEFITS.
WE WERE PAYING $578.00 PER MONTH FOR THE TWO OF US.
I JUST RECEIVED MY CONVERSION PLAN FOR MYSELF AND IT IS $1288.00 PER MONTH FOR 1 PERSON. MY HUSBAND IS ALSO UNEMPLOYED BUT HE GOES ONTO MEDICARE JUNE 1, 2010 AND MUST BUY A SUPPLEMENT TOO.
I CAN’T EVER PAY THIS $1288.00
THE ONLY OTHER WAY OUT IS TO DIVORCE MY HUSBAND AND GET ON MEDICAID.HOW SAD, HE IS THE LOVE OF MY LIFE.
I AM AN INSULIN DEPENDENT DIABETIC AND NO ONE ELSE WILL COVER ME. THE INSULIN IS OVER $200.00 A BOTTLE PER MONTH
I USE 2 BOTTLES OF 70/30 AND 1 BOTTLE OF REGULAR- SO THAT IS OVER $600.00 A MONTH PLUS MY OTHER MEDICATIONS SUCH AS ADVAIR @ OVER $200.00 A MONTH AND AVAPRO 300 AT ABOUT $100.00 A MONTH.
I HAVE PRICED THIS ALL WITH A DISCOUNT CARD AND IT COMES TO OVER $600.00 A MONTH. THERE ARE OTHER MEDS, BUT THEY ARE GENERIC BUT MY LIFE SAVING INSULIN, BLOOD PRESSURE AND ASTHMA DRUGS I CANNOT AFFORD.
IF UNEMPLOYMENT WERE EXTENDED OUT UNTIL WE CAN FIND WORK IN FLORIDA, A STATE WITH OVER 12% UNEMPLOYED WE AND OVER 1 MILLION OTHERS IN FLORIDA WOULD BE SAVED FROM DESTITUTION.
I AM NOT ALONE IN THIS PLIGHT, MILLIONS WILL BE BEGGING IN THE STREETS, STEALING AND DYING JUST FOR MEDS & FOOD &HOUSING.
OVER GOVERNMENT MUST HAVE A HEART AND A CONSCIENCE!!!
IF ANY OF YOU TRIED TO LIVE ON 275.00 A WEEK +$25 FOR EVEN A MONTH YOU WOULD KNOW HOW HORRIBLE IT FEELS. WHY NOT TAKE AWAY EVERYTHING YOU HAVE AND TRY IT FOR A FEW MONTHS.
IT IS UNCONSCIONABLE THAT ANYONE FROM THE PRESIDENT TO CONGRESS AND THE SENATE COULD ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN TO THE PROUD AMERICANS WHO GAVE YOU YOUR JOBS, BENEFITS, PENSIONS, HOUSES ETC.
WE ARE PROUD AMERICANS, BUT WE NEED HELP FROM THE PEOPLE WE VOTED TO PROTECT US!
THIS GREAT COUNTRY HAS BAILED OUT EVERY OTHER COUNTRY, GIVEN MONEY TO COUNTRIES IN NEED, BAILED OUT OUR BANKS, AUTOMAKERS AND BIG BUSINESS- YOU NEED TO HAVE A CONSCIENCE AND HELP THOSE OF US STILL UNEMPLOYED.
YES, IT APPEARS THAT THEM FIGURES OF THOSE COLLECTING UNEMPLOYMENT IS DOWN, BUT THE TRUE FIGURES ARE NOT THERE, BECAUSE IT IS DOWN BECAUSE THEY CAN NO LONGER COLLECT.
MY UNEMPLOYMENT ENDS IN 1 WEEK, WHEN I FILE FOR MY 1 WEEK, THEN I WILL BE APPLYING FOR FOOD STAMPS, MEDICAID, RENTAL ASSISTANCE AND ANYTHING ELSE I AM ELIGIBLE FOR- JUST TO SURVIVE. I AND MILLIONS OF OTHERS DID NOT PLAN FOR THS- EVERYONES SAVINGS ARE GONE,
OUR LANDLORD WAS NICE INTAKING PAYMENTS, BUT ONCE UNEMPLOYMENT IS GONE, THERE WILL BE NO WAY TO MAKE THOSE PAYMENTS UNTIL I CAN FIND A JOB WHERE I DON’T HAVE TO LIFT 50 LBS AND STAND ON MY FEET ALL DAY( I AM IN NO MEDICAL CONDITION TO DO THAT WITH HEART, DIABETIES, ASTHMA AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE—AND NOW I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GO TO DOCTORS OR GET MEDICATION.
IS EVERYONE IN WASHINGTON BLIND TO WHAT IS HAPPENING??
WHY IS IT THAT THERE IS FUNDING THAT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE REPAID FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION IF YOU WANT TO GO FOR A COLLEGE DEGREE. BUT IF YOU ARE IN YOUR 60’S AND WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE CAREERS BY TAKING A COURSE FOR YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE LISCENCE OR A REAL ESTATE LISCENCE, WHICH TAKES A MUCH SHORTER AMOUNT OF TIME TO GET AND LESS MONEY HAS TO BE PAID FOR THESE LISCENSES, WE MUST PAY FOR THEM OUT OF POCKET?
BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT HELP US PAY FOR THIS AND WE CANNOT AFFORD TO PAY, THEREFORE ANOTHER AVENUE IS SHUT OFF FOR US.
IF THESE WERE INCLUDED IN THE GOVERNMENT STIMULUS WITH THE EXTENSION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND 65% DISCOUNT OF COBRA, MANY OF US WOULD BE MAKING MONEY NOW.
I WATCH THE NEWS AND EVERYDAY I SEE MORE ROBERIES, PEOPLE BEING SHOT AND KILLED FOR A FEW DOLLARS FOR FOOD ETC. IS THIS REALLY WHAT YOU WANT FOR OUR COUNTRY?? THE CRIME RATE IS UP AND IT WILL BE MUCH HIGHER AND DESPERATE PEOPLE DO DESPERATE THINGS.
WE DESPERATLY NEED THE 65% COBRA EXTENDED NOW PAST 18 MONTHS- I END ON MAY 31,2010 AND THE HEALTHCARE BILL DOES NOTHING TO HELP ME UNTIL I AM ALMOST 68 YEARS OLD.I WILL NOT MAKE 68 IF THERE IS NO HELP
AND UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENDED UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR SO WE CAN GET BACK ON OUR FEET-( I STILL BELIEVE IN THIS COUNTRY. WITHOUT UNEMPLOYMENT I CAN’T PAY FOR COBRA.
From V.M. in MI:
My situation is by no means unique: I am divorced; 55 years old; have been unemployed since November 2007; can’t afford health insurance and am too young for Medicare; am on food stamps; have used up most of my IRA (for which I’m penalized for early withdrawal),
More than anything, I want gainful employment. I’ve applied for a variety of jobs–from entry-level to professional–and no luck. I’m an attorney and have a master’s degree in business. I’m also an actor, artist, photographer, and writer, and I’ve been doing some freelance jobs, but they are few and far between. I cannot find one meaningful paid job in any of those categories. The paid positions out there are part-time or temporary, have no benefits, and pay very little. Clearly, employers are taking advantage of this situation.
I would be happy working as a file clerk, but rarely do I get an interview and when I do, the interviewers are often half my age and don’t give serious consideration to my qualifications. I never hear back from them. Age discrimination is rampant.
When I hear politicians and others say that people like me are lazy and will be more motivated to find work if there were no more unemployment benefits, I wish that I could afford to move away to a country, such as Canada or New Zealand, that values its citizens and offers health care to everyone.
Why do our politicians not bat an eye when bailing out Wall Street and GM, and keep funding a war that has no end, but abandon those who desperately need an extension of unemployment benefits? We’re not asking for handouts—we’ve paid into the unemployment insurance
I, and millions of others like me, need your help.
From G.H. in CA:
Senator McDermott and Members of Congress:
I have been unemployed for almost two years. I’ve sent out more resumes than I can count, since losing my job as an executive assistant at a law firm in 2008. I’ve had only two or three callbacks, and only one interview. It is bleak. I am almost out of unemployment. Time is growing short for me. For many people, it’s already happened. They’re defaulting on the debts, losing their cars, their homes, their dignity.
I have solid resume, a broad and experienced skill set, a college degree, and have been working since I was 14 years old. In fact, I held two jobs while also attending high school. I worked full time while earning my college degree. I can work. I will work. I like to work, and see the benefits of my labor. I think that most people do.
The government and industry is failing us. We need the lifeline of unemployment continued until the unemployment rate comes down, significantly. Everybody knows it. There are no jobs.
From M.C. in CT:
I and my wife have been unemployed, out of no fault of my own and have exhausted all our unemployment benefits as of last month or before. I have lost so much in the last two years and now if you do not add ADDITIONAL WEEKS beyond continuing the programs I AND MY FAMILY WILL BE HOMELESS AND WITH OUT TRANSPORTATION AND CELLPHONES! There are no jobs out there no matter what News stories try to portray!
Look in any major local paper at the job classifieds (nationwide)-1/2 page or 1 page is the norm instead of 10-15 pages in the past! Hundreds attend the few openings!
So please support the American people like you have the Banks/Wall St. and so many big $$ bailouts and wars. As we all know things will get better, but jobs are nowhere to be found now! All you have to do is look at the market diving in the USA and worldwide when the latest JOBS NEWS CAME OUT THIS WEEK!
How can you ignore the AMERICAN PEOPLE who elected you?
It will take support from Congress for the remainder of 2010 and early next year!
Don’t let any Democrat or Republican state that you shouldn’t help because of the deficit or because unemployed people are lazy and milking the system. I would love to see any of them try to live like so many Americans on unemployment or no funds coming in!
We the good people of America WANT TO WORK! But we need the help of additional weeks now!
Help us out and expand tier 4 or add a tier 5 to do a long term extension.
THIS IS EMERGENCY SPENDING DIRECTED AT THE UNEMPLOYED ON MAIN ST!
Without additional unemployment benefit weeks added, every day/week/month the # will grow,its already huge but by Election time!~ LOOK OUT! MILLIONS WITH NO SUPPORT AND HOMELESS.
We have used up all of our 401k,savings-lost our credit cards and credit and can barely feed ourselves.
I have had to go to food pantries and my kids are not eating well and you can see it in their physical look!
PLEASE HELP US I BEG YOU TO BE DECENT AND ACT IMMEDIATELY TO ADD A TIER 5 OR ADD TO TIER 4!
Thank you M, S/J /C and Emily
OUR FAMILY IN NEED!