The Unspoken Unemployment Crisis in New Hampshire

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I’m a senior at NEC. I am also high-risk for Covid-19, and because of the pandemic, my doctor has told me that not only can I not work, but I also can’t go to NEC for in-person classes.

Dealing with senior year struggles is real. The final papers, final exams, and last minute senior duties can already be stressful. But now, I have added an anxiety and have to deal with not being able to attend classes. I am also dealing with being an independent student and having to rely on unemployment to pay my bills and rent.

I can’t speak for other states, but N.H. is having many issues. One of these is the fact that many cases aren’t simple and they’re running on an old system. In my case, I am a full-time college student who is paying independently. I’m also an older student, so I would normally be working while attending classes to offset my costs. But because I can’t work, this complicates things.

In the beginning of the pandemic, I waited 19 weeks to get paid, and I’m not the only one. I joined a Facebook group for people in my situation and ended up calling unemployment, but they gave me the run-around every time. They told me that I was ineligible, but couldn’t tell me why. Finally, someone reached out and gave me the email of the Deputy Commissioner. She told me he was in charge of the unemployment offices.

After 20 weeks, I was finally paid.

Things were going well for a while, but suddenly, a new issue appeared two weeks ago.  I received a notification saying that I was denied of all my claims since March “due to leaving work without good cause.” I looked up what “good cause” meant for the state of N.H. under The CARES act, and it states that, “a person who leaves work due to their health, is excusable under the CARES act”.

That means, because I quit due to being high-risk, I should not have been denied my payments. Currently I “owe” the N.H. unemployment system over $16,000 because they think I quit my job because I felt like it.

I appealed my claim immediately to avoid any payments because I knew I was wrongfully accused. What they fail to understand is, since March, I have been reaching out to N.H. Unemployment, stating that I am high-risk. They said that I needed to have a doctor’s note if I was denied, but now I’m being wrongfully accused of quitting my job even though I’ve been telling them that I have the proof.

There is a silver lining, though. I was able to contact another person who works in the Deputy Commissioner’s office and presented them with my doctor’s note. They will be sending it to the appeals office, which means if they see the note and that the doctor asked me to leave my job due to my health, then I can win this case and get all my money back.

My story isn’t unique. While researching, I discovered that over 150 N.H. residents on the Unemployment Facebook group page alone have also gotten the same denial. I reached out to a free lawyer advice number and found out that over 1,000 N.H. residents are also having the same problem. People are going as far as to hire a lawyer because, like me, they know they are wrongfully accused.

There is a petition that you can sign to help people like me and the many others in my situation. We want our voices heard! Please take the time to sign it.

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