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To File, or Not to File, For Unemployment?

by J. Money on Monday, December 20, 2010

Jobless Men Keep Going (unemployment sign)
Man, what a last 48 hours…. there is SO MUCH I want to say right now, but let me first start off by giving you a huge THANK YOU!  I cannot express how much I appreciate every single comment and tweet and phone call and everything else you have sent my way. It’s so true – you get just as much love on the day you get fired as you do on your wedding day! ;)

My head is still spinning from all the craziness around here, but I’m happy to report today will be my first full day at the  “new office.”  I’m jumpin’ right back into that 9-5ish schedule so this boy stays on track and starts some good habits. We’ll see if it lasts, but right now I’m in GO mode & ready to kill it!

Speaking of which, heard some more news (rumors?) about my now ex-employer:

  1. The CEO is reportedly getting paid $480,000/year. If he cut it in half, he would have literally saved 1/2 the company (there are were only 10 of us). He probably took a hit when we were all asked to give up 10% a few months back, but I doubt it went below $350k.
  2. The employees that remain have been asked to take a 2 month delay in paychecks (HAH!)  I can’t even fathom this… even if you continued to believe in the company (double Hah!), there’s no way some of those guys could last that long – at least two of them are living paycheck to paycheck.

So yeah, there was no escaping this madness even if I did slip through the first round of layoffs.  There’s no way in hell I’d have kept on working with no paychecks for 2 months.  1, sure – have done that on a number of times over the past 5 years. But 4?  Come on now…

One of the things that’s been coming up a lot since being laid off, though, is the whole “filing for unemployment” deal (right after “is that you flicking us off?” Haha… Answer: no).  It seems filing is in the top 3 things to do the day you get let go. Which I *think* I agree with, but there’s still that little part of me that shivers just thinking about it. I know it’s a “right” we have, and it’s $X amount of steady income that we can then count on, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.  Also, I’m pretty sure I don’t even qualify.

Since I’m already making  a healthy amount from my current projects, I don’ t think I count as “unemployed.”  (Healthy = more than what unemployment benefits would give out).  I pretty much switched to being self-employed the day I got cut loose.  And even if I *accidentally* forgot about that money (which many have suggested, you naughty readers!), the IRS would soon catch on the second I filed my taxes.  They’re good at math ;)

But probably the biggest reason not to even mess with it is the fact I’m NOT ACTUALLY LOOKING for another job! Haha… I’d get caught the very first time I’m asked to show my progress on everything (or however it’s done, I have no idea). So it’s safe to say I won’t be applying for the extra money – even if I CAN really really use it!  I already know I’m gonna be shaky w/out that $70,000 to fall back on.  But $hit, that’s the trade-off right?

My situation aside, though, what do you all think about unemployment benefits? Have you ever needed it?  Did it make you feel weird? (Do you think it’s abused like crazy?) Would love to get your take on it – been meaning to blog about this, oddly enough ;)  Seems much more interesting now that it can be applied to real life! Haha…

Back to “work” I go…

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(Old school photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)


{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jolie December 20, 2010 at 8:26 am

I filed briefly after I had my second child. I still did not have a teaching contract so there was no maternity benefits. It took 18 weeks for them to process things. One day, part way through that 18 week wait, I received a letter in the mail from UE. Well two. Inside the envelope were two separate letters, both dated the same day, both signed by the same man. One approved my request for UE and one denied it. I was an hour on the phone trying to get said man to explain how those letters were possible.

Once it finally came through, I remember being hassled by the local agent. My new babe was about 4 months old. She wanted me to go find part time min wage work (was summer by that point. no teaching jobs). I literally had to pencil and paper show her how working min wage, I was in the hole, theoretically, after a paycheck, by the time you took off deductions and paid for child care.

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2 sarah December 20, 2010 at 8:55 am

My husband lost his job about 3 years ago, we had a house and 3 kids at the time. I hadn’t been working because I had been staying home with the kids. We absolutely filed for unemployment. And it sucked. The max payout was only about 1/8 of our usual take home. So I strapped on my big girl panties and went out to work again. My husband only claimed unemployment for about 8 weeks, but it was about 7 weeks and 6 days too long.

In hindsight, my husband losing his job was the best thing that ever happened to our family. My husband ended up signing back on with the employer that let him go, for higher pay and a step up the ladder (they quickly realized that a multi-million dollar dealership won’t run it self).

So while I know there are people that will advocate unemployment benefits, and that’s all fine and good. But for us, it just wasn’t a viable option. It was much better to go out and work for that $$$$. It’s amazing how creative you can be when your mortgage is on the line!

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3 Doctor S December 20, 2010 at 9:16 am

Unemployment benefits serve a purpose. In your case, like you said, you don’t need to. But for those people that get layed off and have nothing else to rely on, it serves a major purpose. I have a few friends who collect unemployment who sit around and do nothing the entire time, I see a problem with that. If you are not looking for work and are sitting around doing nothing, you definitely have some sort of motivational problem. I guess some people don’t like making money?

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4 Tiffany December 20, 2010 at 9:24 am

I think it’s a double-edged sword. There are people who have unexpected job losses that need unemployment, and that’s fine. Then there are people who take it as free money and sit around doing nothing, with no motivation to find a job. I used to counsel some of these people, and it’s VERY frustrating to see them taxing the system like that.
If I got fired I don’t think I would collect unemployment, but I’m a nurse and can pretty much always find at least part-time work. So I’m in a bit of a different situation.
Sometimes I think that I’m waiting around to be fired (my company is in financial distress) because it will motivate me to pursue different dreams. I wouldn’t be devastated if that happened.
Congrats on your new job!!!

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5 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com December 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

I appreciate your honesty. Unemployment should only be used to help you look for a new job. You aren’t looking for a new job, so you aren’t filing. I think that’s awesome.

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6 J December 20, 2010 at 9:37 am

I don’t think its something you have to even debate over. It’s just insurance, like health or automobile. You’ve paid into the system over the years (via payroll deductions) and if you qualify for it, you qualify for it. You’re definitely right that you don’t qualify because you’re not looking for more full time employment (I believe if you make part time $ below a certain dollar amount you still qualify) but if you did its not something I’d even try to wrestle with. It’s just insurance.

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7 CoffeeCents December 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

Take the unemployment man. You have paid into that system, so it is like insurance, so take it. Every little bit helps

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8 Sarah Fowler December 20, 2010 at 9:58 am

I was on unemployment once, after 33% of the company that was my first job out of college was laid off. My roommate stiffed me for two months’ rent and then I got laid off… and I was only making $29,000 a year! I thought I’d find a job before my few hundred dollars ran out but of course that didn’t happen so I applied for unemployment. I really hated to do it–it felt so weird– but I needed it. I only took benefits for two months, then started my own company and made my own money! Being self-employed is the hardest and most awesome thing I’ve ever done. Congratulations!

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9 Ashley December 20, 2010 at 10:00 am

Well, only the employer pays into unemployment, technically. You can say that because they have to pay, that wages are lower and therefore it’s like the employee pays.. Which I agree with. But nothing from your deductions goes to unemployment insurance. It’s a separate insurance policy that your employer buys. Like worker’s comp.

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10 Meredith December 20, 2010 at 10:02 am

Totally agree with @CoffeeCents. Take the unemployment-it’s owed to you. And, so you feel bad about taking it when you have other things lined up? Donate it. Put all of it towards Kiva. Do something totally awesome with it.

I had to file for unemployment when I was fired, about 2 months ago. It was incredibly helpful. I didn’t have to touch my savings in order to pay all of my bills, continue putting money into savings, and contributing to the causes that meant something to me.

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11 Financial Samurai December 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

You should go through the process and see if you qualify and write about what it’s like!

And after several weeks, if you feel too guilty about collecting, just stop. I think it would be an inciteful look!

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12 jennydecki December 20, 2010 at 10:30 am

I always shudder when I hear words like “deserve” and “owed” – the double-edged sword of America is that nothing is deserved or owed to us except our freedom and our Constitutional rights, none of which are unemployment.

That being said I’ve gotten unemployment before. Got it for six months and then was denied, so I had to pay it all back.

My husband got it once with no problem and no hassle. In my state you can just apply online, sign up for direct deposit, and never set foot in the local office. It’s a very “pro-unemployment” state and most companies don’t fight former employees and it’s a pretty smooth process. Which is great, in my opinion, and one of the reasons we live where we do.

In your situation, if you can pay the bills, I wouldn’t apply. Taking from a pool that you don’t need to dip into won’t make you feel any better about getting what people consider “free money” – also, it’s usually not that much money. No one is paying the bills with unemployment where I live. It barely pays the mortgage.

But I agree with Financial Samurai – if you’re on the fence and unsure – go for it and consider it something to keep writing about. A series on unemployment is one many people are probably searching for online because it is kind of this elephant in the room no one is comfortable talking about because there is shame attached (I don’t know why).

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13 Clare December 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

I like the image you used with this post – shows that these ordeals are timeless! I still feel excited for you. I meant to tell you that a co-worker at the restaurant the other day asked me, “Hey, you look different…you look…sexy…do you BUDGET?” because he had found my guest post here. Haha! Cute.

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14 Jonathan December 20, 2010 at 11:04 am

I gotta say, I really find real inspiration in this whole situation and how you’ve handled it! It takes a lot of guts to go against societal norms, and I applaud you. *claps* :)

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15 David December 20, 2010 at 11:18 am

I filed for unemployment after being laid off in fall 2009. The only weird part about it was being in the Dept of Labor building and seeing all the people. I felt like I didn’t fit in with the crowd. I was only on it for about 5 weeks, but from what I saw they were VERY lax about progress checking. The talked a big game about progress checking but rarely acted. Reminded me of the IRS.

There is no place left to go but up when you are laid off. I remember feeling a lot of different emotions and powerless. Regardless, you just have to take it day by day and remember your friends and family are there for support.

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16 Jake @ NotRichYet December 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

Couple of thoughts from the other side – I used to be a start-up CEO and have been been through the up and down cycle. In fact, I had to have the hard discussions telling people they were on furlough or being fired etc.

That said, I did not wuss out and delegate the firing to someone else (if I hire you, I need to fire you myself when the day comes). Those discussions were some of the hardest things I have ever done. Its people’s lives and self-worth you are messing with, so you better be fully committed to the discussion.

a.) messing with people’s pay checks is VERY risky. In many states it is considered a liability that does not go away – if you work, you are owed that money and if the company can’t pay, the officers and board members have to come up with the cash. We never, ever delayed paychecks even when we went through tough times. In this case I think the legal counsel or Board of Directors is asleep at the wheel – you should make them aware. Also did you get a check for every last cent they owe you when you walked our the door (accrued salary, vacation days etc)? If not, they are also playing with fire – that is illegal in many states.

b.) in my case, when I laid off people, our insurance premiums to the state unemployment insurance went up – not sure if that is the same in your state, but I would guess that in the end the company benefits double if you don’t take the unemployment pay – food for thought

c.) congrats on taking the plunge into the new gig, even if you were walked down the plank with a gun at your head … once this feels less raw, I would encourage you to think about what your employer did well vs. badly and see if you can come up with learnings for the day you become a boss-man yourself

Good luck!

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17 Tamara December 20, 2010 at 11:49 am

Co-sign with Jake @NotRichYet.

If you’re so inclined, you should maybe give your former co-workers a heads up that what this company is doing probably illegal. I have a family member in HR and she said it sounds like a Fair Labor Standards enforcement violation. According to her, there are fines levied against the employer paid to the employee for every day past payday that the employee isn’t paid.

The sheer gall of a company doing something like this amazes me. Take it as a blessing that you got out when you did!

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18 Mercedes December 20, 2010 at 11:59 am

I see no issue with you filing for unemployment. but liek you said, you probably don’t qualify considering you are still bringing in a good amoutn with side projects and wont be looking for another job. I also DO think that some people abuse that system. I actually KNOW people that abuse that system. But they have always been that type of person…. Can’t change them I guess!

One thing I do have a question about, is it actually legal for a company to ask you to forgo getting paid for 2 months? And what if people say “No, I want to continue to get paid as per scheduled”? Can they do that? I mean, I know I’d be okay for 2 months waiting on a paycheck. But I wouldn’t want to if I didn’t have to!

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19 Kaye December 20, 2010 at 12:14 pm

My hubby has taken unemployment when he was laid off just over a year ago. Took it for about 6 months–when he found another job. It’s a good thing too because we weren’t as financially stable as we are now. My dad used to go stand in line for unemployment (back in the day when there was no “online” and it thoroughly embarrassed him. But he did it to provide for his family when he was between jobs (he was a construction worker).

Honestly I wouldn’t file unless I really couldn’t afford not to. Yes the benefit is there, but if you need it, go for it. If you don’t need it, there is no reason to apply and feel weird about it the entire time.

And yes…I hate that people abuse the system. I am all for welfare type programs that help people when they are truly down and out and need help. Living off of it…well, I see those people everyday and have no respect for them.

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20 Cassie December 20, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I can’t believe they had the gall to tell people they’d have to wait 2 months for their pay checks. And right before Christmas too! You’re lucky to have gotten out.

As for the unemployment, I wouldn’t take it. You’re employed. Self employed, and you’re just starting, but you’re still employed. Unemployment is meant to bridge a gap between jobs. I think it would be a more honest move for you to not apply for unemployment benefits. That’s just my opinion personally.

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21 Red December 20, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Well, it’s not like unemployment benefits are a freebie. It’s money you’ve paid into the system, or that your employer paid in unemployment insurance. All of that is factored in when they come up with your salary number. So it’s not free money.

My husband is receiving unemployment benefits, and it’s allowed me to continue paying off my debt. Otherwise, I’d be supporting the both of us with my paycheck. So I definitely appreciate unemployment. It gets abused in the sense that no one is going to apply for a minimum wage job when they get more from unemployment. But them’s the breaks, I guess.

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22 Jeremy Orr December 20, 2010 at 12:24 pm

J. Money,
I can totally relate to the dilemma of whether or not to file for unemployment. I don’t know how much you know about my situation, but I am a California pink slipped teacher. This should be my third year teaching but each year until you get tenure, the school districts lay you off and only rehire you if they can. Every summer, school districts lay teachers off regardless of whether or not they have a job for you. So each summer, you are faced with the decision whether or not to file for unemployment. You can get a summer job but it usually doesn’t pay as much and precludes you from searching for work for the next school year. So the last two summers, so I could spend the summer finding work for the next year, I took unemployment. It took me a while to come to that decision, I know the feeling of it just not sitting well. It’s a gut check for you man ego. I was happy with my decision though, and it got me through. Best of luck to you in your new ventures!

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23 Bradley Egel December 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I think we, as Americans, pay into many programs so that others may benefit and when “you” fall upon hard times there is nothing wrong with relying on others (and what you already paid into the government) to help you out of that situation. Think about this…we have been paying into Social Security our whole adult working lives, and we will never see those benefits…it won’t be solvent by the time we retire…so…yeah :)

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24 Kate Kashman December 20, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I don’t have any thoughts on what YOU should do, but I will tell you what my family has done. When I was pregnant with our first child, my entire division was laid off. I would have been eligible for unemployment benefits. I had always planned to quit when the baby was born, so I wasn’t going to look for work. My husband felt strongly, and I didn’t disagree, that it would be inappropriate for me to receive unemployment when I didn’t intend to reenter the workforce permanently.

You may (or may not) consider it the same way. Yes, payments have been made into the system on your behalf, and you are entitled to apply for benefits. (Whether you would qualify is another question altogether.) However, you’re not seeking work.

I love that you are thinking about this and not just blindly following the expectations of the rest of society.

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25 David December 20, 2010 at 12:52 pm

You’re paying into the unemployment system, so I don’t see why you wouldn’t retrieve your money back when you’re unemployed. If you’re not collecting back your own money, someone sure is! With all the extensions, someone is paying for it. I just think it’s if your money to begin with you should collect and get it back. You’re actually doing a benefit to the company you’ve been laid off from as they have to pay something if you start collecting as well.

You actually get double taxed if you take unemployment. You’re already taxed on your paycheck when you pay into the system. Now if you collect it’s considered income again.

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26 Stephanie December 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I lost my job as the SOLE brand manager and graphic designer for a gifting company almost 3 years ago. The brutal thing was that, 1.) They let go a few other really great, key people that day, and 2.) despite it being a very small, close knit, family owned company with whom I’d never had any previous problems, by the time I tearfully returned to my desk I was locked out of my computer. COLD!

They realized they were up shit creek when they had no one to design or write their emails for them, so I continued to freelance for them while I was unemployed. The bad thing was that my resentment toward them and how poorly they treated the layoff and their employees was reflected in my work. Where I once wrote passionately about the company and its products, I struggled and lied through my teeth.

After 5 weeks of unemployment (during which I only received one week of unemployment payments and luckily had a month’s severance to survive upon) I landed a temp job no where near my area of expertise. I was there for 7 weeks of creatively unfulfilling paper pushing before landing my dream job in the marketing department of a craft brewery.

It’s amazing how common these stories are these days, and while it sucks you experienced it as well, I think it’s an awesome launching point for J$, Entrepreneur Esquire. You’re luckier than many in that you were leading up to this change and have a great cushion of financial savvy. No doubt that you will rock this thing and hustle like no other.

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27 Debra December 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Yes, I applied for and received unemployment for a while before it “ran out.” In order to qualify, you have to be actively looking for and documenting your job search, as well as making less than x dollars at any other work you may be doing. J$ is right that he doesn’t qualify because he’s not looking to replace that job right now.

I looked hard for work from home. It might have looked to people like I was “lazy” or “just sitting around collecting money” but that wasn’t the case. I lost my job due to an ilness that I was completely up front with my employer about. When they flat out told me I couldn’t work with my illness (I was willing to try, since I was working from home but would need certain accommodations they weren’t willing to give me), I kept them up to date on what was going on. But I needed to see a specialist to figure out what was wrong, and thanks to my insurance company, I couldn’t get an appointment for over a couple months after my illness! My employer knew all this, and yet gave me the option to quit (and lose my health insurance, which I didn’t think would help me get better) and come back after I was better, come back in a couple days, or get fired. Getting fired was the best route because it allowed me to be eligible to be added on to my husband’s health insurance, as well as making me eligible for unemployment.

So after all that, I didn’t feel bad getting unemployment that my old employer was paying for (and that I’d paid into). I did feel weird collecting it, though, as I know there’s a stigma attached to it. What was more frustrating was being told I was “overqualified” for jobs (and even removing some of my higher qualifications off my resume to hopefully help increase my chances of getting interviews or a job) and not having people return my phone calls and emails and often completely ignoring me or treating me like I wasn’t a person.

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28 LB December 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I was laid off from my full-time job back in August, but had a 2nd part-time job so didn’t really qualify for benefits. (My part-time job decided they wanted me full-time since I was free.) I ended up having to quit about a month ago to go take care of my mom after surgery. I wasn’t going to be given any time off, because the company didn’t have to follow the Family Medical Leave Act :(. So I said (thought) F-U and went and took care of my mom. I could have quit my 2nd job right away and gotten unemployment, but I just couldn’t lie like that to get unemployment. I just don’t see how people can lie to get paid for not working.

J, I am sure you will succeed with anything you do. Let me know if I can help you in any way possible. :)

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29 Janet December 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm

You may hustle more without the cushion … but not taking the benefits when you’re eligible for them is much easier said than done. :)

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30 DIH December 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I applied for unemployment benefits when I was cut to half time two years ago – right at the beginning of the housing crash. I work in the design/construction industry in a very small office and (due to a little lack of foresight on my bosses part and a lot of bad economy) we suddenly had no design income (read: nothing to pay our wages).

I remember the gasping panic I felt when my bosses sat down with me and said that they were going to cut my hours and, while they hoped this was only temporary, there might not be an end in sight – how was I going to pay rent, my student loan, get groceries!?! A coworker suggested that I apply for the benefit – I didn’t even know you could get partial unemployment – and after some soul searching (and financial calculations) I decided to do it. I certainly felt very crappy about it, especially at first. Unemployment was something I’ve always thought of as a great thing … for other people. I’m also pretty young so I felt bad about collecting when I had as yet contributed so little. But, actually, in my situation it was ideal. Those checks made SUCH a difference. Working about half time meant my income was cut in half but the unemployment benefit ended up replacing about nearly another quarter of that – in the end I was operating on about 70 percent of my normal monthly income. I cut my spending to the bone and held my breath … and got lucky. After about two months we got another key client and soon I was back on full time and could tell the unemployment office “thanks but no thanks!” It helped that I was and am essential to the functioning of the office. Two other co-workers were laid off entirely during that time but were also able to be patient and get hired back on a few months later rather than having to abandon the company because it couldn’t afford to pay their checks for a couple of months.

I look back on it as a valuable learning experience – I really don’t think I would have bothered to find out all the facts of what unemployment insurance is if I had never needed it. And I’m so grateful for being able to stay afloat and work through it during that time rather than having to quit and look for other work because I couldn’t make ends meet. It was also a great reminder to save and spend thoughtfully. Now, two years later, I have a decent (and growing) emergency fund and a steadily growing IRA.

In your situation its more of a judgment call – since you already have some income and aren’t planning to go back to work you aren’t the theoretical ideal. Still your readers might find it really interesting to see an insider’s perspective on the system so you might want to look into it for that reason. In either case, best of luck!

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31 Rebekah December 20, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I did file for unemployment when I was laid off last January. I only collected for a month, as I found a new job quickly, and I did take a reduction on one of the checks because I did some freelance work (for my previous boss) during that time. I had no qualms about applying, since it is something I was paying into when I was employed. That’s what it’s there for!

You’re probably right, though, that you wouldn’t qualify if you are not looking for new work. And it’s a small enough amount that if you’re getting any substantial freelance income it will probably all be canceled out anyway.

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32 Jenna December 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I signed up for unemployment when I got laid off earlier this year. However, I only collected for two weeks, since I got my new job! I would sign up just because you never know what could happen. Might as well get some money saved up.

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33 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff December 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I’ve never been eligible for unemployment (started this job right out of college) but I’d sign up for it if I fit the criteria. Since you don’t (aren’t looking for a job), I agree that it’s a good idea to avoid that particular errand. :-)

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34 Trina December 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I don’t know much about umeployment myself, but the 3 people I do know who have filed seem shady. 1 was a teacher and she filed in summer, gross. I say that as a former teacher and I think it is ridiulous if you can’t budget your money for 12 months even if you only work 10. 2 is my bil and he in no way ‘actively searched’ for work. 3 is my fil who files every winter when the weather keeps him from getting hours at work.
Looking at those 3 situations, I really don’t see how 1 and 3 even filed since neither were looking for work when they filed. In situation 2 I personally feel unemployment hindered him finding a job because the check was just enough to make him not uncomfortable enough (ie: he could pay for gas and McDs) to not motivate him to find work.
Also, can you file if you were let go because you were a bad employee (broke the rules, stole, always late, etc) versus being let go due to the company downsizing?
I think it is great that you are not filing and not trying to work the system.

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35 Yana December 20, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Some years ago, before the economy tanked, my husband lost his job. His “position was eliminated”. We immediately filed for unemployment online, and I was impressed by how easy it was as compared to going to the unemployment office. I believe in unemployment as insurance, entitlement, and something that a worker earns. However, the income in question was nothing near the type of income you have lost, and the unemployment benefits we received were not enough money to live on. Our savings dwindled to the point where I couldn’t keep a $500 balance to keep the checking account free – but temporarily, because I asked the bank to waive the fee that one time and they did. Even on unemployment, my husband refused a job that broke our rules – you work where you live and do not commute – but he took a couple of undesirable jobs, the first of which went out of business after a short while and the last of which was so horrible that he quit without giving notice. Neither of us ordinarily operates that way, but that employer did not keep their end of the bargain as far as hours given to work. My husband went back to his original employer, the one that supposedly eliminated his position, and got hired again. It’s the right job for him and for our lifestyle, and he is still there. I can’t remember exactly, but I think his absence was around 1 1/2 years. Unemployment was critical to have, but I’d guess it works better for people who earn higher incomes in the first place.

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36 Briana @ GBR December 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm

First off, your former employer. WOMP. What a loser. How could you earn THAT much money a year (monthly is more I make a year!) *shivers* The selfishness/nerve of some people. Anyways, back to unemployment benefits. I had the opportunity to get it but didn’t. I don’t know if it was a pride thing, a denial thing, or what. My alternative: run up my credit cards. *shrugs* Happens to the best of us. I don’t knock people who need it. I do knock people who aren’t even looking though.

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37 JoeTaxpayer December 21, 2010 at 12:10 am

Well. deserved and owed because you paid into the system, if not directly, then through your employer. You were fired, it’s your right to collect.
Of course only if your current income doesn’t exclude you.
I’ve read of bloggers whose few dollars worth of ad income made them ineligible for thousands in unemployment income.

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38 Andrew December 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

Thoughts on unemployment? hmmm, I’d rather it wasn’t handled by the govt and was just another form of insurance. That being said, since I pay into the system(11% of my salary, here in the UK, and my employer contributes on top of that), I wouldn’t hesitate to use it.

and Yes, I’ve also claimed it before, I was due 140 pounds, and I found a job I couldn’t get to for travel reasons. I got that 140 pounds the day before I started work and bought a bike so that I could cycle there.

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39 J. Money December 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm

This may be the longest comment I’ve ever written. It’s like “where’s waldo” with your personal response :) Enjoy.

@jolie – Oh wow. 18 weeks is harsh! How long ago was that? I bet before the internet age ;)
@sarah – That’s kinda how I feel about it too :) If I knew I was getting money in every week – even if it wasn’t a LOT – I’d be a bit lazier with getting out there and really pushing myself. I think a good scare every now and then is key in forcing us to really DO IT and get creative as you mentioned. Just never fun while smack in the middle of it, haha…
@Doctor S – A LOT of people don’t like money. They like people feeling bad for them ;)
@Tiffany – I don’t know if I should wish my situation on you or not, then :) I’m SOOOOO glad I got the boot cuz I’m sitting here now working on what I love! Also, kinda random, but I think about becoming a nurse every now and then. I like that it’s so rewarding-seeming, but just not sure if I’d actually like it once in the thick of things. I think it’s an AWESOME profession though, yay for you!
@Kevin @ Thousandaire.com – Thanks man, only trying to keep it real.
@J – Interesting way to think of it, hadn’t thought about it that way before.
@CoffeeCents – You don’t like to read much, do you ;) Good thing we gchatted yesterday!
@Sarah Fowler – Oh wow, awesome!!! Good for you. That’s exactly what I want to be hearing right now :)
@Ashley – Ahhhh… yeah, had no idea how that works. thx!
@Meredith – That’s a great idea! I just think I’d legally get in trouble since I’d have to lie to qualify ;)
@Financial Samurai – Haha, you’re always thinking sir!
@jennydecki – What?! You had to pay it back?? Wowwwwww…. yeah, def. not trying to go down that route. I didn’t even know that could happen?
@Clare – Hahaha… your friend is now my BEST friend. You can tell him that too ;)
@Jonathan – Woooooo! Go me! haha….
@David – Thanks dude. I think I’d feel the exact same way you did too walking into one of those buildings. I’d like to think I’m a man of the people, but I’ve been blessed enough to understand I don’t know what true troubles are.
@Jake @ NotRichYet – Thanks for all that insight man! I really really appreciate you sharing that with me – and I’ll take you up on the “learn the good vs bad” so I can be a better boss one day! You rock.
@Tamara – Oooh dang! I should just write them an “anonymous” letter saying everything they’re doing is wrong. Kinda like “I know what you did last summer” haha…
@Mercedes – I bet they’ll just be let go if they don’t agree. A “you either take this, or you don’t” type deal. Glad I don’t ever have to find out!
@Kaye – Your dad is THE MAN! That takes a lot of courage – and all for your family, I love it :)
@Cassie – That’s pretty much my opinion too, thanks :)
@Red – No doubt – def. helps you out!
@Jeremy Orr – Oh wow, no I did not know that. I don’t even know what to say about it! So crazy to me. Makes sense business-wise I suppose, but damn. I don’t think they do that here in MD? Is it because Cali is in all kinds of debt?
@Bradley Egel – What are you talking about? Social Security wilL ALWAYS be here ;)
@Kate Kashman – You pretty much summed up my whole post in one comment :) That’s exactly how I feel!
@David – Really? Hadn’t even considered that yet… we’re taxed up the a$$!
@Stephanie – J$, Entrepreneur Esquire! that’s me! hahaha….. I also want to know what craft brewery you work for. Please please please email me? :) j @ budgets are sexy dot com (Is it Dogfish Head? Cuz that would be superb).
@Debra – I think that’s pretty common nowadays, and I don’t know how people deal it it :( Being overqualified used to be hot! I’m sure it will again one day :)
@LB/b> – Thanks! Not a fan of lying about work either.
@
Janet – haha agreed.
@DIH – Thanks for sharing your story with us bro! So scary indeed, but man did you learn a lot. Well done. If I ever end up jumping in and writing about it I’ll let you know :)
@Rebekah – Yup, exacto!
@Jenna – Yay for quick new jobs!
@Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – Mmmm… college…. I miss that.
@Trina – Haha… I love that word “shady” – so perfect! And that’s a good question about getting fired for being shady vs laid off. I’m pretty sure you have to be laid off to receive, although I could be wrong. I tell everyone i was fired but mainly for effect :) I was def. laid off.
@Yana – “you work where you live and do not commute” – that is a very very interesting concept. I might have to blog about that one – thx! :)
@Briana @ GBR – What on earth is WOMP? Going over to google in a few ;)
@JoeTaxpayer – That reminds me, I need to find more advertisers ;)
@Andrew – 11%??? dannnnnnng. now that’s something.

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40 Pretty Unfamous December 21, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Coming from personal experience, YES, I think unemployment benefits are extremely abused. My dad was laid off in August 2008, and mooched off the government for two whole years, without ever trying to get another job. In that same amount of time, he became addicted to anxiety meds, went into and out of rehab, relapsed, and struggled to keep his life together. The fact that unemployment gave him a steady source of income while all he did was sit on his ass and sleep away his problems bothered me to no end. I understand that unemployment benefits are necessary for thousands of families in America, but I’ve seen the bad side of it, and I will try my damnedest not to ever need to resort to it.

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41 TimesnLatte December 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I was on unemployment for 2 years as well, until I finally, finally found a job after sending out god knows how many hundreds of resumes. Anyone who thinks it makes you lazy after the first 3 or 4 weeks hasn’t been unemployed in this economy and anyone who thinks that it makes you any less scared when your money has essentially run out has never been in that kind of position, especially if you are over 40 and competing for jobs with 20-somethings.

I paid in, and it was there when I needed it, thank god. But the system is not designed for 21st century knowledge workers. If you do any kind of freelancing while looking for a regular job, they consider it “starting a business” and you are no longer eligible. I wouldn’t risk losing the safety net to seek out freelance opportunities, not when that safety net was keeping health insurance for my family. Frankly, it’s more of an incentive to work under the table than to seek out whatever money making opportunities you can find. As far as the signing up goes, in PA it’s all online. Very easy.

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42 J. Money December 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm

@Pretty Unfamous – Wow, that was pretty shocking to hear that it was your Dad. Man, I’d be pretty hot too! Sucks about pain meds htough :( I can’t imagine what that does to someone – no less a family. So is he working now?
@TimesnLatte – That is interesting about the “starting a business” part. Sad you can’t do more side stuff while you’re trying to look for a full-time job… I mean, I def. get the reasoning behind it, but like you said it certainly encourages shadyness. Why can’t the world just work normal? :)

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43 Charlie F December 28, 2010 at 10:21 am

After going 6 months without income after losing my job to the death of my patient, I really wished I could have had unemployment (it was an under-the-table job). Living off of credit cards for six months is a tragedy I’m still paying for (and will be for a couple years), and this was in 2008.

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44 J. Money December 28, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Oh man, sorry to hear that bro. The downside of under the table stuff, eh? I’m starting to REALLY want to file now that it’s been a week or two w/ no “normal” paycheck, but would still be cheating ;) Will just have to block it out!

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45 Charlie F December 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Yeah, it happens. The upside is that I gained SO many skills working with her (like advanced wound care)- we did so many advanced things without being certified in anything. If the family had gone with a company for her late-life care, then it would have cost them a lot more. Her son is a finance professor, though, so I’m sure he thought of that!

Honestly, though, you paid in, so you should be able to get it back, IMO. I’d talk to somebody at the unemployment office about your situation to see if you *do* qualify, and if you do, then get the money and invest it or something. Pad your retirement. :)

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46 J. Money December 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Oh for sure – GREAT for learning! I’d have done the same thing :) As for unemployment – I already know id’ have to be looking for a job in order to accept it – which I’m not. so that alone disqualifies me ;) But if you find some special magical fix let me know! haha…

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47 Everyday Tips December 28, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I didn’t read through all the comments, so please forgive me if what I am saying is redundant.
There is no proof that you are actually looking for a job. A friend of mine just had to click a button online that said “I was looking for week this week (date given)”. You can do that week after week after week and they never once asked for any proof that my they were looking for a job. It is part of why the system is so abused.

I think you should give it a try. It doesn’t hurt to have that buffer income. You may not be looking for a job, but you are building toward a business in a sense. It isn’t like you are sitting around watching reruns of Friends and drinking beer 24 hours a day.

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48 J. Money December 28, 2010 at 6:45 pm

haha that’s the damn truth. sometimes I wish I were though ;)

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49 Erica December 28, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I definitely plan to file for unemployment when I get laid off in the summer. I have a right to, I’ve been paying into it since I started working at the young age of 16 so it’s about time that I finally get to use it. Granted it wont be what I get paid normally, but I don’t see a point in trying to find a job for 2 months when I can just use unemployment and money I’ve put aside.

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50 J. Money December 29, 2010 at 11:05 am

hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. i don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer with this stuff, just the one that makes the most sense for YOU. do your thang ;)

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51 Sulyn June 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm

My significant other worked in construction for many years. As we know, the building industry is one of the most hardest hit in today’s economic times. He collected unemployment for 5 months and stopped after he got a sub-contract job from a friend. He did the right thing and stop collecting unemployment. His friend ended up paying him less than 50% of what he owed him on the job, even though he got paid out 100%. My boyfriend took anything to be working, but was out in the end. He has not been working a regular job with benefits since December 2009, and only collected unemployment for 5 months. Other’s suggested he reapply for unemployment, but he feels to prideful to go back that route. He moved in with me 3 months before he lost his job, and for the last several months I have been paying for everything. A neighbor told him he should try to collect unemployment, and he is now mad at me for encouraging him to take the neighbors advice. Come on people, if your not depending on the government your depending on someone else. Is if fair to the people you love to not help financially if there is a means too… at least temporary. WTF.

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52 Yana June 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Sulyn – I agree with you. It is not at all fair not to collect unemployment if you can and you need it. And need it means you can’t get along without somebody else’s money. Bringing someone else down is not something to take pride in, and nobody should be ashamed of collecting unemployment if they are eligible to do so.

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53 J. Money June 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Agreed :)

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