The excruciating process of applying for unemployment on a Kafkaesque Massachusetts state website

When Jennie Rose Halperin left her job as a product engagement manager and researcher last month, she applied for unemployment benefits via Massachusetts Department of Unemployment website. She says, "I soon learned that a masters degree in Information Science and several years of work on systems and usability could not prepare me for the excruciating process of applying for unemployment in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

In "My Inbox," a series of PDFs provided me information about my "Claimant Monetary Determination," and the status on all of them was "Review." I dutifully downloaded all the PDFs and read them. Though this section was called an inbox, I could not delete, mark messages as read, or take any expected inbox actions.

Next, I clicked every link on the sidebar, front page, and within the inbox and could not find a section entitled "Other Messages." I ignored the warning and assumed that I had no "other messages," which did not seem unreasonable at the time. Upon redirecting to the front page, the system prompted me to fill out my weekly claim for that week, and I did so accurately and fully.

My claim was rejected on the last screen. The "additional details" section on the page provided no information about why my claim was rejected.