Applying For Unemployment - Seemingly In a Catch-22
June 12, 2020 5:03 PM   Subscribe

I am a 57 year old man working in a butcher shop in California. Physically, all was well with some issues from an old elbow injury that did not affect my work. When Covid-19 came around and the quarantines were announced, we were deemed essential and had to radically change the way we did our customer service. Essentially, like Amazon, we began processing online orders for pickup, along with traditional butcher shop tasks.

The work became extremely fast, physical and moving between hot/cold extremes. Any ergonomic rules I followed vanished. This went on for 2 1/2 months. A month ago the injured elbow began to partially slip in and out of its joint causing ligament damage. I put my arm in a sling. 2 weeks ago, I began to feel inflammation and pain in my joints, and burning in the back of my hands. I did not want to create any long term damage so, in my best interests, I quit. I do have Medi-Cal, will be going to PT, and have begun preparing to go back to school next year to become a social worker

My employment was not terminated. I resigned to to health reasons. Normally, (I think) that would not allow my to apply for unemployment. I had planned on applying for disability though what I would get would barely cover my monthly expenses. Friends have encouraged me to apply for unemployment as they feel that the injury is Covid-related.

I resigned from work for medical reasons which would possibly not allow me to get unemployment. The decision to resign was due to injuries that were Covid-related which may possibly allow me to get it.

I may be overthinking this. I am nervous for leaving in the midst of massive unemployment and the uncertainty of whether I would be able to cover my expenses. I also could not risk my long term health. The butcher shop is not a union shop so there will be no support coming from their direction.

I am looking for advice from those who are knowledgeable about unemployment insurance relative to Covid (Working within the system would be ideal) and how to navigate through system, or if it is even possible.

posted by goalyeehah to Law & Government (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apply and answer honestly. They will make their decisions and if needed you can appeal. It won't count against you in any way when you answer honestly.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 5:10 PM on June 12, 2020 [6 favorites]

I'm repeating myself because it now seems even more important to suggest that you may be able to get legal advice (MeFi Wiki) from a free online clinic or telephone helpline (e.g. Legal Aid at Work), so you can get accurate and relevant guidance on how to proceed.
posted by katra at 5:14 PM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding 'apply'. Don't cost nuthin'. If you have to appeal, attorney-up. It's worth it.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:16 PM on June 12, 2020

You can also ask an attorney about this: "Workers' compensation benefits are designed to provide you with the medical treatment you need to recover from your work related injury or illness, partially replace the wages you lose while you are recovering, and help you return to work."
posted by katra at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2020 [11 favorites]

Apply and answer honestly.

Yeah, the usual rules are kinda out the window, at least here CA.

My wife quit her corporate job in early Spring 2019 to finishing up at nail school and to get her manicurist license, which she used to open her own shop during that June. She shuttered her shop this March., as soon the as the State Board ordered her to, and for "fun" she applied for unemployment. Not only did not currently having a job that paid into Unemployment Insurance not matter, neither did quitting the last job more than 12 months previously. In normal times, either of those things should have stopped her from getting unemployment, but these aren't normal times.

So, just do it and have them tell you no.
posted by sideshow at 6:41 PM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Get you application in online ASAP. There's a long delay in getting anything but it will be backdated to your application date.

The website says there are extra people answering the phones but I haven't been able to reach anyone, just get a rather long voice answer which eventually says "we can't talk now, try later"
posted by anadem at 9:01 PM on June 12, 2020

For what it's worth, the r/unemployment subreddit is extremely active and pretty helpful. There are lots of threads tagged by state, so it's fairly easy to winnow things down.
posted by tapir-whorf at 9:39 PM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Katra has the best point so far: the focus should be on worker's compensation rather than unemployment. This is what WC is for.
posted by yclipse at 4:23 AM on June 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

As a follow up, you can likely reach a Workers' Compensation attorney (NELA) much faster than you may be able to reach the unemployment compensenation department by phone, and without any cost for a consultation (MeFi Wiki).
posted by katra at 9:13 AM on June 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

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