A smartphone app is aiming to help make filing for unemployment easier. Currently, millions of people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus, which has led to massive backlogs at state unemployment offices. The app, DoNotPay, wants to streamline this process, as CEO Joshua Browder told TODAY on Wednesday.
"What we realized is the government systems are stuck in the 1960s," Browder explained. "So we've built a new system. We've gone back to the 1960s." The app, which is free to download, also features a chatbot that asks questions to help users gather the information necessary to apply for state unemployment insurance. It also mails in a paper application or will submit the information by fax or through the respective website during off-peak hours.
The app had previously offered services like parking tickets disputes, navigating small claims court and skipping customer service lines, but the newly developed unemployment feature is available without cost. Browder also stressed that he and his six employees made sure the service is compatible with all 50 states' unique unemployment process. Even states that require a phone call to their office, DoNotPay has a feature where a bot will make a call and even remain on hold, then forward the call to users when a representative picks up.
"It's almost like paper voting,'' Browder said about his service. "That idea can be applied to other areas of bureaucracy where it's actually more secure and efficient in some strange way."
Currently, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. workforce has filed for unemployment, according to Business Insider. Among the hardest-hit have been the public-facing businesses, including bars, restaurants and gyms. Particularly those that have been forced to close by state and local government orders, all of which was done to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Currently, the social distancing guidelines put in place by the federal government are in place through the month of April, although that could change.
The federal government is planning an additional 10 to 12-week stimulus package, in addition to the $2 trillion CARES Act to soften the blow. The CARES Act also includes individual stimulus payments to every adult, which have started hitting banks accounts over the past few days. The process has not been seamless, however, as the IRS website went down on Wednesday due to the overwhelming amount of traffic they received with people tracking their stimulus payments.