The Best States For Unemployment Benefits: Would You Work If You Could Make $1,800 A Month Doing Nothing?

Surfing Dog In HawaiiWhy work if I make $1,800 a month in unemployment benefits?” was a question asked to me by someone I met in the hot tub last year.  At 28, Julie has been on unemployment for over 52 weeks.  Her old job was as a designer for Billabong USA.  During her time off, she’s been selling some of her paintings via Facebook where she posts her portfolio.  Of course, all her art earnings are not reported, otherwise, her $450 weekly benefits will start getting garnished after the first $25 dollars of income earned.

We’ve stayed in touch over the year and she’s been generous enough to give me some insights into the unemployment process.  She’s planning a two month trip to Jamaica with her friends, and she wants to do the right thing by suspending her unemployment benefits for that time period because she won’t be looking for work.

Despite her good intentions, she could not get through to the California Employment Development Department (edd.ca.gov) after calling 58 times.  That’s right, 58 times!!

So guess what?  She’s going to Jamaica for two months and will have her friend back in California fill out her bi-weekly continued claim form.  One of the questions she will have to answer is, “Did you look for work during the week?“  She will answer, “No.”, but undoubtedly, her unemployment benefits will still hit her Bank of America debit card like clockwork.

WOULD YOU WORK IF YOUR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EQUALED HALF YOUR EARNINGS?

$1,800 equals $21,600 a year in unemployment benefits.  President Obama has graciously allowed all Americans to collect up to 99 weeks, or $44,550 in unemployment benefits during this time.  It looks like benefits will gradually be reduced down to 92 weeks or less, but either way, anything more than 52 weeks is better than a kick in the face.

If you make $44,000 a year, which is the income level you need to have in order to qualify for maximum benefits, would you bother finding another job making $35,000-$44,000 a year if you could make $21,600 a year and do nothing?

Earning money under the table is rampant.  You can sell artwork like my friend, or teach lessons for cash.  There are random hole in the wall restaurants who have “no credit card” policies.  Why you ask?  Because they are not reporting their full income and have separate books for the IRS.  We all know that accepting credit cards is way easier than only accepting dirty cash in a restaurant.

I don’t feel annoyed at all at my friend for collect unemployment benefits.  She is holding out to the very end to find that ideal job.  The government has allowed her to be patient, and that’s exactly what she’s doing.  In fact, I feel happy that she gets to receive some benefits back from the government, since so few of us taxpayers even get 20% of what we pay to the government back.

THERE ARE STATES WITH EVEN BETTER UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS!

After doing some more digging, I’ve come to realize that California doesn’t even have the best unemployment benefits despite being a high cost State.  Hawaii has even more generous benefits at around $525 a week, or $2,100 a month!  If a husband and wife can move to Hawaii, have no rent or mortgage and collect $4,200 a month for 99 weeks, I dare say that life would be the envy of many!

1. Hawaii
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 54.3%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $416
Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 43% (Seventh Highest)
> Unemployment: 6.3% (Ninth Highest)

2. Rhode Island
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 45.9%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $380
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 27% (Eighth Lowest)
Unemployment: 11% (Fourth Highest)

3. Iowa
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 44.9%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $321
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 40% (16th Highest)
Unemployment: 6.1% (Sixth Lowest)

4. Kansas
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 44.7%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $326
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 35% (20th Highest)
Unemployment: 6.8% (12th Lowest)

5. North Dakota
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 44.6%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $310
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 36% (24th Highest)
Unemployment: 3.6% (Lowest)

6. New Mexico
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 43.7%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $316
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 32% (28th Highest)
Unemployment: 8.1% (23rd Highest)

7. Wyoming
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 43.3%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $337
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 34% (22nd Highest)
Unemployment: 6.2% (Eighth Lowest)

8. Utah
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 43.1%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $316
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 27% (15th Lowest)
Unemployment: 7.6% (17th Lowest)

9. Montana
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 42.5%
Average Weekly Benefit Amount: $272
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 48% (5th Highest)
Unemployment: 7.4% (14th Lowest)

10. Washington
Percentage of Weekly Wages Covered By Benefits: 42.3%
Average Weekly Wage Paid: $384
Percentage of Unemployed Receiving Benefits: 33% (25th highest)
Unemployment: 9.2% (16th highest)

RECOMMENDATION

Never Quit, Get Laid Off: I managed to negotiate a severance package worth six years worth of living expenses after working at one job for 11 years. If you are considering quitting, don’t! You can walk away with some real money if you learn your employment rights, build the right relationships, plan and negotiate!

How To Make Money Quitting Your Job

Photo: Surfing Dog, Waikiki, SD.

Regards,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. SAM says

    Dude, you obviously don’t know how expensive it is to live in Hawaii. Anything not manufactured or grown on the islands has to get there via a very long boat trip. It’s freaking expensive.

    • says

      Eh, I beg to differ. I’ve been going to Hawaii for decades and just came back after a week there.

      Hawaii’s food and gas is about the same as San Francisco’s. Meanwhile, housing is about 20-35% cheaper!

      What’s your story?

      • Patricia says

        Financial Samurai,

        At least you can afford a yearly vacation. Lets get serious, most people in Hawaii work two jobs (full time employment + additional part-time work). Food and gas being about the same? You must be Maui Wowee out of your mind dude. Most people are so busy working they have no time for traveling. As to your question, “What’s your story?” I find you to be You a cocky guy.

        • says

          I am sorry that you think “most people” are working two jobs and can never smell the roses. Perhaps this mindset is what makes you poor in the first place. You can criticize me all you want, but if you don’t even share your own background, then there’s no credibility with what you are saying.

        • Kevin says

          “I am sorry that you think “most people” are working two jobs and can never smell the roses. Perhaps this mindset is what makes you poor in the first place.”

          This logical progression of yours makes no sense. Care to elaborate how his mindsent is what makes him poor?

        • Matt says

          Two? I know a dozen people working three jobs! San Fran might be pricey, but you can always move-in state- to a lesser expensive place. You can’t compare state averages to city averages, and unemployment is based on state regulations.

          • Poppy says

            For people who think unemployment should be taken advantage of, move to France – you can enjoy your life in a system that punishes people for being enterprising and reward laziness. That is what happens when everyone takes their 99weeks. Please don’t change the US for the worse.
            Unemployment is helpful but not a means to an end.

            And for the record, yes, the cost of living in Hawaii is comparable to San Fran and NYC but did you bother looking into the salary of the average person living in SF/NYC compared to Hawaii?

            Cut it by 20-30% if you’re seeking employment and make do with that + add the competitive market and the fact that it is very much a small town mentality and based on who you know.
            The average house is 300k min unless you want a very long 3-4hr commute. If you want a home that’s comparable in size and acreage to the mainland, they run 600-700k and they’re not on large acreages.

            I’ve lived in all 3 places – for the most part, Hawaii is a beautiful place to live, and for $4000 a month a couple can live the life if there are no mortgages or debt, but you have to make that much to qualify for the max first so realistically – how many of said people in Hawaii can do that?

            But if you want to come here and bum out on your unemployment, Aloha! We sure could use your spending money.

  2. says

    I know a couple of people who are unmotivated to find a job because their benefits are so high. Sometimes I want to slap them (ok well all the time).

  3. says

    I am with you Michelle. I have a couple of free loaders that I know that say why work when I can make just under what I would have been making if they did go to work 40hrs per week. If you ask me giving them that much hurts more then not giving. Of course it depends on the lifestyle you lived previously as if you are making 6 figures I cant imagine you trying to live off 1800 though it would be possible.

    • says

      What if you got HALF your six figure salary in unemployment benefits though? That’s a more apples to apples comparison.

      You can also generate $100,000 in passive income, retire, and then collect UB for 99 weeks.

  4. David M says

    Would I take a job at $35,000 when I could get benefits of $22,000 – absolutely. I have collected 2 weeks of unemployment benefits in my life and my goal is to not collect another week.

    I personally could not enjoy life if I intentionally got myself laid off to collect unemployment.

    “One of the questions she will have to answer is, “Did you look for work during the week?“ She will answer, “No.”, but undoubtedly, her unemployment benefits will still hit her Bank of America debit card like clockwork.” I hope she will then be writing a check or checks back to the State of CA for this money!

    Just my humble opinions,

    David M
    CPA, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner)

      • David M says

        To me this is absolutely not my money – it is called unemployment insurance.

        Does it make sense for everyone to crash there car because they have car insurance?

        Does it makes sense for me to set a small fire to my house after paying house insurance for 25 years and not making a claim?

        If everyone got back “there money” the cost of this insurance would be a lot higher.

        Just my opinion and I’m sticking with it.

        Getting the benefits when she is in the country and selling things to me is fraud.

        Keeping the checks that are sent even though you tell them you do not deserve them would be even a more serious fraud.

        • says

          My friend didn’t purposefully get laid off. It wasn’t her intention. She’s looking for the perfect job and won’t settle until she finds it. Is it not within her right to collect the full 99 weeks of unemployment benefits if she continues to look?

          You don’t think it’s fraud that the government taxes us so much and spends it on waste and weapons of mass destruction to kill people overseas? I do. The government abuses our money every day.

        • David M says

          Do I think wars are a waste of money yes.

          Do I think this entitles people to commit fraud – no.

          I personally do not think it is within her rights to collect the full 99 weeks while looking for a perfect job. BUT what does that matter, its just my opinion.

  5. says

    There is abuse to the sysytem everywhere. The majorityof the people unemployed would like a job and are actively looking. Should we get rid of it because of the fraud or should we clean up the fraud? Medicare is another case where is fraud and abuse. I think all of these programs need better controls.

    • says

      Probably easier from a fiscal stand point to just eliminate all government employment insurance and social security and let everyone fend for themselves.

      But, from a taking care of each other stand point, too many people would unduly suffer.

  6. says

    I totally wish there was a way to clean up the system, but I don’t see how. Not just with abusers of UB, but more so with welfare – these systems unfortunately develop (in some) a sense of entitlement.

  7. zerointercept says

    The double unemployment couple will still owe taxes on their unemployment insurance benefits. $4,200/month, even after taxes is still totally livable. There should be no shame in claiming what you’ve paid into, so long as you stay on top of your responsibilities.

    That said, there’s a greater opportunity cost of being unemployed before retirement. The double employed couple making $88K (pre-tax) is going to achieve retirement much faster… 99, or even 52, weeks is a long time to delay.

    Personally, I’d be looking for work as soon as possible. If your previous employer offered health insurance (and paid for most of it), COBRA is could eat away a fair bit of that premium and it only covers 72 of the 99 weeks. That only magnifies that opportunity cost of being unemployed…

    • says

      True, although I believe many couples could live happily off $4,200/month. It all depends on the couple’s financial situation before they get on unemployment.

      I’ve looked into health care, and at most I’ve seen for a 30-40 something year old, relatively healthy couple is $1,000 a month.

  8. fredipuppy says

    I have run into a surprising number of who have no qualms collecting unemployment while working under the table in construction. Unemployment check is gravy.

  9. alicia says

    No wonder this country is in such dire straights. You’re a disgrace. I hope like hell the government catches up with you and throws you in a jail cell.

    The govt abuses our tax money so that is your justification to bleed the UI and welfare systems dry? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t you have any sense of decency?

    Don’t worry. Obama is going to be voted out of office (think GSA, Secret Service and those Wednesday night cocktail parties) and bums like you will go back into the caves (or jails) or under a rock you belong in.

    • says

      You talking about my friend whose been on UB for 52 weeks+ and going to Jamaica for two months, or to me for highlighting the 10 best states for unemployment?

      I’m pretty sure I pay way more in unemployment insurance than you do, ever year, for the past 10 years. However, please share your story as I love angry commenters! thx

    • Jerry Curl says

      Sam, I want to apologize for Alicia. She works a low paying job she hates, and can’t stand the fact that other people get to kick back, get paid, and take their time finding a job they like.

      Alicia is stuck and projecting her frustration. Her medications says she’s not allowed to be close to a computer for the next 6 months. I’m sorry.

  10. alicia says

    I’m self-employed. Have been for decades. I pay 15.3% into Social Security, Medicare and UI benefits. When my business took a dump in 2010 and I had no clients, self-employed people CAN NOT collect UI benefits, despite being forced to pay into it for decades. When I finally had to go out and get a job, four months into the employment I was laid off. When I went to go collect UI, despite having the required work weeks into the system, my salary was higher in one quarter than the following quarter and because of that I was denied UI benefits. I applied 3 times and each time I was denied.

    I am NOT upset that I was denied the benefits. Although, they would have helped me out a lot. I’m annoyed at how the system is structured. If I were a salesperson who would make more money in the month of December, that income, in New York, would upset my other quarters in disparity earnings and I wouldn’t have been able to collect either.

    Go figure.

    Here in New York, you are monitored ruthlessly for fraud. If you are caught being dishonest, and many are (I read about all the arrests in the local news) you are hunted down and arrested and thrown in jail. Entitlements beware.

    I consider benefits something a needy person can rely on in times of need. Realistically, to me, being on government assistance is nothing to be proud of nor taken advantage of. Odds are if your friend in CA is not able to work, her benefits will be denied for that time. That’s how it is in NY. If it is not in CA, then it is no wonder the state is bankrupt.

    We as American citizens should self-monitor our actions. Just because our politicians are dishonest, doesn’t give us the right to be dishonest. If you are out of work or need assistance, then by all means, apply. But if you are ready, wilingl and able to work, then please do. Stop draining our American resources. We are NOT entitled to anything. This is OUR country. We all need to chip in and help her. As of this writing our government is broke. We take in less than we pay out. Have we no conscience?

    This post encourages people to seek out the best states that have the most generous UI payouts. Are you daft????? You should be encouraging people to get out there and work, work, work, work. Produce, create jobs, and damn the politicians. Take back your own country. It is only ‘We The People’ who are going to get us out of this mess.

    In retrospect, I am glad I was denied UI. It forced me to use my creative juices and find work. Period. I did apply for food stamps back in December, right before the lowest point in my life. By the time the NY Social System contacted me a full 3 months later (despite a 30 day contact law) I had already secured several new customers, found a low cost food store (Aldi) to buy my food and no longer needed govt assistance. The happiest point in my life was telling SS I no longer needed them!

    What is wrong with you people is exactly what is wrong with America right now. Get out and make your future. Rather than collect UI checks and go off to Jamaica for two months (!). How dare she! Here in NY, if someone logs onto your benefit app, you will find yourself in a whole heap of trouble. I hope that CA catches on to your deadbeat friend. If she were my friend, I’d drop her in a heartbeat. Repulsive!!!!!

    • says

      OK, now I understand where the angst is coming from. I would be upset if I was denied benefits, so don’t worry if you are. Most people would be. That quarterly system requirements you have in NYC of ups and downs doesn’t make sense to me.

      Perhaps you should direct your intense anger at the State for not allowing you to collect unemployment instead? I don’t come to your house and shit on you and call you names (deleted your other derogatory comment).

      How did you find this post btw? Always curious to know.

      Perhaps this post will help calm the nerves and make you feel more proud to be an American:

      http://www.financialsamurai.com/2011/08/01/socialism-as-a-means-to-a-brighter-future/

      • alicia says

        What you have failed to calculate into your theory is that the states do not have as much money to dole out as they had previously. Throw in the fact that they are getting less from the Federal govt and you have a revamping of the entitlement system. Less income, less tax revenue, lower property taxes, less open businesses equals less tax revenue for the state currently. They have no recourse except to start changing how people can collect benefits. New York State has come up with this preposterous formula now in order to collect UI.
        So, my advice is if you are calculating collecting in the future, and you have not developed any profitable skills, you may be in for a rude surprise.
        As New York falls, so will California, Rhode Island and on and on.
        Wake up and smell the real coffee.
        Like seeing the riots over in Europe?
        As USA funds dwindle, expect the same here.
        My advice: prepare to be self sufficient.

        • says

          California is prepared for a Federal Government bailout. And if that happens, we will be thankful. The culture of America has turned into entitlements. Why do you think we’ve voted for ever increasing government? If you don’t see that people vote with their pocket books, then you are blind.

          What person who is receiving government welfare in their right mind would vote for the Republican party to shrink entitlements?

          My problem is you blaming someone else for your own frustrations instead of focusing on what you can do to improve yourself.

        • alicia says

          OMG! The govt is broke. haven’t you heard?
          America has more debt than it take in in income. Duh?
          Of course anyone on the govt tit will vote to keep the dems in.
          That’s what Obama is counting on.
          But you have to ask yourself: do I want to continue to be broke and poor?
          If so, vote for Obama.
          Do you want a job, a career, make money and get to keep more of the money
          you earn, thus becoming rich and successful? If you answered yes to this question, then vote for Romney. That’s it.
          First off, CA employees do NOT pay into the unemployment benefits. That is funded 100% by the businesses. The rate of UI these businesses must pay is based on the number of thier employees who collect UI. Is it then any wonder why California businesses are leaving CA and running off to no tax states such as Texas? Even Apple Inc is leaving CA.
          Hawaii also does not charge the employees to pay into their UI benefits. Here in New York, which is the 2nd worse state in America when it comes to UI benefits,
          employees pay half while the boss pays the other half. That works out to 7.65% each must pay into the system. However, the boss pays a rate based on the number of employees that collect. More employees out of work means the boss pays a higher rate. So, New York businesses will do whatever it takes to keep you off UI. The other bad part
          is if you are self employed, such as I was. I had to pay the whole 15.3% but could never collect UI if my business went belly up. This is also happening in other states, such as New Jersey. My friends there, who have lost jobs, are usually denied benefits.

          I wouldn’t be planing on CA getting a govt bailout anytime soon. Obama has raised American debt by the trillions of dollars. Eventually, the shi* will hit the fan and people may not bew getting the benefits they were promised. it’s just pure economics.

          Your friend who posts and sells her art work on Facebook
          would be caught instantly here in NY. The fact that she has called the UI division 58
          times with no response should be a red flag to how weighed down the division is.
          Obviously, they are overwhelmed. She simply has to send the office a
          certified letter as to her 2 month inability to work or just not phone in or file papers. Let the benefits lapse. She won’t be in violation if she doesn’t collect, right?
          According to the CA UI handbook:
          An individual who files for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits must meet specific eligibility requirements before benefits can be paid. Individuals must:

          Have received enough wages during the base period to establish a claim.
          Be totally or partially unemployed.
          Be unemployed through no fault of his/her own.
          Be physically able to work.
          Be available for work which means to be ready and willing to immediately accept work.
          Be actively looking for work.
          Meet eligibility requirements each week benefits are claimed.
          Be approved for training before training benefits can be paid.

          Your friend is NOT available to work in CA and the office needs to know.
          As to your statement that we taxpayers don’t get back even 20% of what we pay. Really? Who pays for the police, fire department, EMS, roads, bridges, tunnels, social services, libraries
          schools, day care, teachers etc. etc? Where do you think that money comes from? Heaven.

          I don’t know a single person who is envious of another single person who is collecting unemployment benefits. Not one! Because we all know that the person has lost their job, the longer they are out of work, the more valuable skills they lose in their field.
          We know that eventually the benefits will run out, there is no guarantee of
          another job. Loss of income leads to loss of home, apartment, car, marriage
          and a possible trip to the poverty level. More govt handouts may await them.

          Is this what you want? Is this how you see your future?
          You want to work in Hawaii till you qualify for UI and then coast?
          You actually think I am jealous of someone like that? Really?
          You want Obama to win in a landslide so people can continue to collect UI?
          As companies continue to go out of business, or set up shop oversees or
          keep their profits offshore, who do you think is going to continue to pay into the CA UI?
          It ain’t the people. So, what happens?

          Here in New York, only 36% of the people who are unemployed and lost their jobs for whatever reason, can collect UI benefits. What is happening to the other 64%
          who are out of work? I don’t care how glamorous the media portrays Manhattan, I see more and more homeless vying to sleep in building doorways as night time descends.
          Is this the America you see or want in your future? Do you really think it is wise for your friend to go to Jamaica for 2 months, not work, beat the system, while slowly causing it to collapse even more?

          Don’t you understand that a government can only work from the tax revenues it can collect from working people, working companies and businesses? If everyone would go on the dole, the system will collapse.

          And unfortunately, America is collapsing. Because you are right.
          What’s the point of working if you get all these free benefits.
          Why should anyone work as hard as they did before when you could get
          all these cool benefits? Like free or reduced health care, low cost student loans,
          earned income credits, tax write-offs, yada, yada, yada, yada. unemployment benefits for 99 weeks?

          Your post was most interesting. I am very saddened by the reality that
          Americans today, especially the youth, think that they are entitled.
          Having a job, earning your own money, being responsible for your own life and
          freedoms is/was a sacred thing. How very unfortunate that you wrote a post on
          where to go, live and work to get the best UI benefits for when you lose your job.
          Where is your drive, ambition, desire to make the world a better place to live in?

          You’d rather crack open a Bud and sit on a beach, while some smuck or
          stupid business owner works hard and sacrifices just to put you there.

          Obama is brilliant. He suckered you into giving up your life and your freedom.

          Yup. 4 more years of debt and economic failures.

          Solyndra anyone?

      • alicia says

        How did I find this post? Somebody filed a complaint on a California review board. I read this whole thing there. There was a link to this blog and I followed it.

        You guys sound like ‘brilliant’.

        And I need meds? Sure I do.

        Good luck people.

        I am like so outta here.

    • Jerry Curl says

      If I was the state unemployment agency of New York, I wouldn’t give you jack shit! You are clearly an unstable person. Keep on paying your taxes!

      • David M says

        She seemed pretty stable to me. Do you feel better now that you were rude to this woman?

        In my opinion (which I am sure you do not care about) I think you owe her an apology.

      • alicia says

        Well, my dearest Jerry Curl, a funny thing happened on my downward spiral. I noticed the less money I earned, the less taxes I have to pay and the more benefits I can get. Because I earn so much less now I haven’t paid any more taxes in years.

        Yup. You are all right.

        Let some other smuck pay their taxes so we all can take a free ride.

  11. says

    Here in the UK there is one unemployment benefit (ignoring the finer details) and that is ‘Jobseekers Allowance’, which pays $462 USD a month. Not very much at all.

    But we can also then apply for ‘local authority housing allowance’ which is designed to pay a proportion (or all) of your rent in times of unemployment. For me with my 1-bedroom apartment, that would give $970 USD a month (maximum – it’s complicated to work out what you would actually receive but that’s the max).

    So my maximum unemployment benefit would be $1,432/mo USD which would more than adequately cover my core living expenses. The maximum length of time I could claim this is relatively indefinite (6 months contributions based, then ‘income’-based calculations kick in which would take into account my savings, investments, property and so on) but if I have none then it just rolls on and on and on.

    I know people who have never worked. From the day they left college they got a free house from the government, free spending money, and then get more and more when they have babies.

    Who’s the fools? Those who work!

    • says

      Nice! Although, that’s lower than what I thought you’d get. I met a guy from Amsterdam, and he says the unemployed get 70% of their highest wage for however long they need?!

      We give a $1,000/child credit for those making less than around $65,000 a year in America. Interesting huh?

  12. says

    Based on the goals that I want to achieve, I would have to pass on the unemployment benefits. In Barbados, you get unemployment benefits for 6 months. From my calculations, I would be getting about half of my current salary…

  13. PrecambrianRabbit says

    I guess this is Easy Question Day on the finance blog — no way I’d give up work for half my earnings, and it’s a really bad financial idea. That goes equally if I were making 2x unemployment benefit wages, or for my current (higher) salary. (I guess if your income is $1M+ things probably change, but that doesn’t apply to me… yet :-D).

    At the unemployment benefits level you’re talking about cutting to almost the bare minimum required for comfort. It doesn’t exactly suck to live on $22K/year – for a single person – but neither is it posh. It’s practically impossible to build up any meaningful savings at that level, and having a family would be a real hardship. Not to mention that when you do attempt to go back to work, you’re out years of experience. I can see a young, foolish person making this decision, but I’d call it out for foolishness.

    It sounds like your friend is (a) at least borderline unethical, (b) probably making a bad choice, and (c) very likely supported by parents with more financial wherewithal.

    • says

      I’ve visited her gated community where her parents live before. You are right, they are rich. I think the average house there costs $1.8-2 million bucks. Which begs another question, does it REALLY now become demotivating if you are getting UB and your parents are rich? I think so. Could be a topic of a good post.

      She called 58 times. I don’t care what anybody says. If you call 58 times and can’t get through, that is ridiculous. That is huge effort.

  14. says

    We live in WA. In WA, the UE department looks at your best 2 quarters out of your last 6. So for sales staff whose earnings fluctuate seasonally, there’s a good chance their UE benefits are pegged to their highest earning times.
    Remember, WA UE laws are written to keep Boeing happy. Boeing does cyclical layoffs and they always want to be able to bring back their trained and skilled employees. They don’t want people finding new jobs during layoffs.

    I’ve said many times (including in comments here) that C collected the full 99 weeks of UE. Financially, we only “needed” that money for about 10 months. We were in good shape after 14. He still filed and got all the money he was entitled to.
    He applied for jobs every single one of those weeks, usually more than triple the number required. The last 6 months or so, we’d made the decision that he would go back to school full time, should he not find a job before benefits ran out (which is what happened), so during those 6 months, he went back to school- but he made sure to take a night class so that he was still available for work.
    I will say again, as I’ve said many times- in the over 2 years C was on UE, he got 2 interviews. 2. He was not applying for jobs that were way out of his league. He was not applying for jobs that were beneath him. He was applying for every admin/sales admin type job paying $30k or more that we could find. (He’d been making about 45k.) He did not apply to work at McDonalds. But the state didn’t expect him to. He got called in for an audit and one of the things they wanted to make sure of was that he was applying for appropriate jobs.
    And yes, I know that 99 weeks is less than 2 years, but C worked for the census summer 2010, so that stretched out how long he received benefits.

    And actually, I would suspect that Sam’s friend will not receive benefits while she is in Jamaica. The computer systems are pretty accurate. While C was working the census, he never did anything than file online and just reported the hours he worked and pay he got and the computer system figured out how much money to send him each week.

  15. says

    I should say, specifically, that as long as her weekly UE claim is filled out honestly- no she was not available and looking for work, than I would be beyond shocked if she actually got paid. Calling requires someone to answer the phone. The checks are cut not based on people, but based on the computer system. By checking that she was not looking for work, the computer system will automatically shunt her to the “do not pay” file.
    And depending on CA’s system, not looking for work for two full months could quite possibly cost her her benefits.

    • says

      You’re probably right. However, it will be interesting to see if she would click “no” for 8-9 weeks in a row.

      She comes from a wealthy family and has unemployment. Makes it so hard to get motivated to take anything but the best job out there.

      • says

        I certainly understand the lack of motivation. Once we got to the point that we could not only live on my income, but live comfortably on my income (debts paid off, new position with a 33% pay increase), C and I both became pickier about which jobs he applied to, and once we made the decision for him to go back to school, why he still applied, we both were glad he didn’t get a job.

  16. says

    If I knew that at the end of my unemployment I could find a job, then I would absolutely keep collecting as long as possible and do odd jobs to supplement my income. Don’t forget about the expenses of going to work (gas cost, auto maintenance, lunches, drycleaning). So net-net, the half you are getting on unemployment is worth 75% of your salary, because you aren’t incurring the expenses of going to work.

    • says

      Thanks for your honesty! If I was only making $44,000 a year to qualify for the most UB, I would probably do the same. It would be nice to have a long paid for vacation until that perfect job comes in week 100.

  17. says

    I’ve never been able to collect unemployment benefits, but I can guess what I’d do if I did. It’s hard to say I wouldn’t get a job that paid less than what I’d receive in unemployment benefits. I think it depends.

    I’d probably relax for a little while, work on a side business, and then get serious about finding a job three to six months before my benefits were set to expire. Last time I checked, maximum unemployment benefits in my state were about $1,200 a month. It ain’t much, but it’d cover my rent and car insurance. I damn sure wouldn’t take a minimum wage job and lose my unemployment. And I’d hold out as long as possible for a job that paid close to or more than what I made in my previous job. With that said, I think 99 weeks or 92 weeks of unemployment is absurd. If the safety net wasn’t there, people would be more serious about finding a job.

    • PrecambrianRabbit says

      I find this a really surprising answer, but maybe it’s a failure of my imagination. I don’t see how it would be possible to relax for a little while and not get serious about finding a job, when you’re suddenly making half what you were yesterday. Most people would take a serious quality-of-life hit going to 50% pay, and that’s especially true at the income levels involved here.

      For exactly that reason, I really doubt a significant number of people are noticeably delaying their job search because of the 99-week unemployment safety. People probably do hold out for jobs paying something similar to their old jobs – but I don’t mind that one bit as a taxpayer. I’d rather subsidize a laid-off chemical engineer looking for engineering jobs instead of have him flip burgers to make ends meet. After all, he could contribute way more to society (i.e., my quality of life) in the former job.

      • says

        My answer was very personal to me. I’ve never had a problem finding a job. The job market in my area is pretty strong. There are other ways for me to supplement my income than through salary and wages. I have a relatively significant amount of liquid savings. If this was not the case, I probably wouldn’t be able to relax in the event of a job loss.

        I’d rather not allow someone to refuse honest work for 99 weeks. I’m fine with the engineer holding out for a job in which he’s trained. But I don’t want to pay his bills while he waits and waits and waits.

      • says

        The mind is a powerful thing. We can relax and tense up in ANY situation.

        If you have a wealthy support network, or have saved up a lot in preparation for unemployment, I think one could relax.

  18. Darwin's Money says

    “Why work if I make $1,800 a month in unemployment benefits?” – it is certainly a question of marginal benefits to Americans. I just bumped into my same old colleague I’ve written about before. Because he gets 99 weeks (only probably 8 weeks in at this point) and he owes his ex-wife more alimony and child support if he’s working, he has opted to just live off unemployment. By his math, with the pay he can get as a contractor gig and paying his ex-wife (and oh, yeah, providing for his children), he makes about the same as just collecting UI when he doesn’t have to pay her anything. So, his calculus is that it’s best to sit around. I see him at the gym once in a while, so that’s at least 1 thing he seems to do each day. I have no idea what he does with the rest of his time; it’s certainly not looking for work.

    In essence, if this ridiculous 99 week $1800 system weren’t in place, the guy would be working and his kids would have more financial support. Instead, taxpayers are footing the bill. Multiply him by several million and you have America.

  19. College&Beyond says

    I do blame him…

    Child support laws may be a little complex and sometimes unfair , but they serve a good purpose. If you were dumb enough to bring a child into this world without thinking if you were financially ready and thus bearing the consequences it implies; then by all means you are utterly responsible for your child well-being. There so many that avoid to work just to not have to pay child support money , its disgusting.

    I hate that taxpayers have to drag the weight of those that just cross their arms and do nothing. My goodness I don’t know how hard can it be to gradually improve social programs from the hand of the government into the private sector. Chile (the country in South America) implemented private social security, it has been a success, the government has one less thing to worry so they have decreased in size (extra savings for the taxpayers) , now you have more control over what you do with your money and where to invest it. ( It is still mandatory to be deducted Social Security Tax from your paycheck but it works as a 401k account) Now there is competition and efficiency in that field, allowing decreased cost and increased earnings for the employees.

    For the unemployment insurance… take the burden away from the states and make it private too, the results will be amazing. Government is not supposed to be an octopus trying to handle everything, and by no means it is supposed to be the distributor of wealth, their job is to be a small, accountable for entity whose job is to protect the country and its citizens… Reduce the government size and reach and you will see a boom never experienced in this country.

    As for the fear of loosing control to the hands of “Big Evil Corporations” , well that is why government job is to protect the citizens, but please stop creating regulatory agencies, and making new rules. Just sit down for 6 months or a year and review the burdensome laws that are already in place (some of them decades old) and update or discard those that must be. Dont just keep on adding more!!

  20. says

    Wow 58 calls and she still couldn’t get through? Man that must be so frustrating. I didn’t realize there is that much difference among the states and their unemployment benefits. I wonder if those other states are as hard to reach over the phone as California!

  21. Lori says

    I’m very disappointed in this post. I thought part of your mantra on the blog was to be ethical. Then you post about your friend lying to the government and condone her for mooching of the taxes Americans, who work hard to just put food on the table, pay. I can see how you’d post this controversial topic to prompt discussion and get hits, but your blog has been all over the place the last couple of months. You postings have become poarlized. You talk about how people who work hard should be taxes less then support someone taking unfair advantage of the taxes you begrudgingly pay. You hate paying taxes to the government but cheer on Obama who has increased the budget by a ridiculous amount. Someone has to pay for all the spending he’s done and plans to do. If our tax money is emptied by people abusing benefits, we can just sit back and watch the national debt grow.

    • says

      Every dollar that doesn’t go to the government is every dollar that doesn’t go towards massacring innocent people overseas.

      If you and everybody hates Obama, why is he going to be re-elected?

      The someone paying for spending are our children. People are OK w/ that, which is why they will re-elect Obama.

      • Lori says

        That’s kinda a ridiculous statement to make when the US gives millions of dollars in aid to countries across the world. We’re the first one to every major natural disaster, but how many countries gave us aid for Katrina? Sure a part of our budget goes to national securirty but it’s ignorant to make sweeping generalizations. There’s a lot of crimes in war but when kids are throwing grenades at soldiers the lines are blurred. It’s not all black and white.

        Obama will be reelected because people don’t have any social or moral consciences. They don’t want to work to support their children. They have more pride in their lack work than a honest days work or setting a precedent of integrity for their kids. People that vote for Obama went to college for the “experience” instead of for a career feel entitled to a dream job instead of working up the ladder. Or they spent 50gs on out of state tuition (and took the max out for beer money) for a communications degree and once they realize they’ll be paying that loan till their 55 want “forgiveness”.

        I’m a 26 year old first generation immigrant. I came from a communist country when I was 4 and I’ve worked hard all my life to get a career I can be proud of and maintain te lifestyle I want. I make 6 figures but don’t have a TV so I can pay off my 70k masters student loans in 2 years. I’m young enough to be the “children” that pays for the “parents.”

        And I’m sick of people’s entitlement. Where’s people’s pride? Where’s even a hint of being proud to be American and the obligations it requires? And where’s the ethics and integrity?

  22. says

    While I don’t agree with her collecting while in Jamaica, I don’t completely blame her. The system allows for the abuse of benefits. Until the system is fixed, you can’t simply blame the unemployed person. The system holds some blame as well.

    It’s the same with the tax code. The people taking advantage of tax breaks aren’t solely to blame. The system needs to be fixed.

  23. says

    My friend worked as a teacher in NJ for 1 year. Got laid off and had unemployment for the next 2 years. He traveled the world as a dancer and made a ton of free money because it was all cash.

  24. Rick says

    Wow, how is this thread even defensible. That fact that these folks are lying to keep their benefits (including actively working while they are collecting benefits) is pure dishonesty and stealing. These safety nets were put in place with good intentions to help prevent folks from becoming destitute and losing everything they owned while they were actively looking for a job, any reasonable job. In regards to the lady “collecting unemployment benefits until she finds the perfect job”, again, this is not the purpose of unemployment. An analogy would be lying so that a cosmetic procedure would be covered by your health insurance, when you know full well health insurance is to pay for actual medical conditions, not cosmetic procedures. Any way you slice it, it is stealing and in the end affects all of us.

    • says

      The state/feds don’t want people qualified for X+Y+Z to only do Z eg a lawyer working as a barista.

      She tried calling 58 times, and is marking “NO” on not working while in Jamaica.

  25. Rick says

    That being said, I found your blog recently while doing some research on real-estate investing and find it overall really good. Thanks for putting this blog together. Just do not agree with this particular article.

  26. J says

    Great blog! I’ve been thinking about passive income streams to fund my retirement for a while now, so it’s inspiring to see how well you’ve done for yourself.

    Specific to unemployment, I’m also in the SF bay area, recently laid off from a tech company, so I’m looking at the entitlements via unemployment insurance, but specifically how it would be impacted by any preparation work I do to become self-employed (services contractor/consultant), or any income streams I am able to set up while on UI and getting prepared to start my own business.

    You mention “her $450 weekly benefits will start getting garnished after the first $25 dollars of income earned.” I haven’t been able to find any information on this on the CA EDD site. Is this a direct offset, e.g. earn $400 and only get $50 that week, or a sliding scale of some sort? Thx!

    • says

      It is so brutally hard to find the garnished wages section! I looked for 30 minutes online and couldn’t find out. Where I did see it is in an EDD physical handbook that was sent to a friend of mine. So frustrating not to be able to pull it up online.

      Anyway, just trust me when I say your earnings will be garnished, which means the system encourages you to not work unless the income is very good.

      Please read: Achieving Financial Freedom One Income Slice At A Time

      Don’t forget to sign up over e-mail or RSS to keep in touch!

  27. Robbie says

    I’m 61 years old and lost my job last September. I also lost my home. I’ve been searching for work this whole time in my field (legal assistant) but no luck. I’m willing to take a lesser paying job, but I’m not going to work at McDonalds. UB has been a real blessing for me. It will end in December, if I haven’t already found something by then. I would love to get off UE and work again. Actually, I’d like to start my own business and I’m not concerned so much about docking my unemployment as I am about getting it delayed while they decide to interview me regarding job search, hours, etc. EDD policies discourage entrepreneurship. Most of us getting unemployment rely on that check every two weeks. My understanding is that it could be delayed a couple of weeks. I’m afraid my health insurance could be cancelled ($450/mo).

    By the way, are all you young people (I’m assuming) speech writers for Mitt Romney? In the 60′s, we cared more about social justice and fairness – not the almighty dollar. I miss that with the younger generation now.

    Just my opinion….

    • says

      Robbie,

      Question for you. At 61, is it safe to assume you have saved and invested for at least 30 years after HS or college? If so, hasn’t that money compounded handsomely over the years and with the addition of unemployment benefits, life is pretty good?

      I’ve gone John Galt btw.

  28. Are you serious? says

    She called 58 times??? The best way to get ahold of EDD is to send an email. This information is also stated on their website. She knew that!!!! EDD will respond within a day. I bet if those benefits ran out she would’ve knew exactly how to get ahold of them. Your friend is playing the system.

  29. Steve says

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. In California the Maximum Benefit Amount is the lesser of either half of what you earned in your best quarter (eg $40,000/2 = $20,000) or your weekly benefit $450 (Max) x 26 weeks = $11,700 for the year. So the greatest amount you could receive in a year is $11,700, about half of what you claim you can receive. In the case where you made $50,000 in a year ($12,500/quarter) your Maximum Benefit Amount would only be $6,250, or just over $500/month if you were unemployed for a year.

      • Steve says

        I stand corrected, I wasn’t aware of the federal extension. It doesn’t seem right that the people who need it the most get the least. By my calculations those eligible for the maximum would have to be making $93,600 or more ($23,400/year in benefits) are the one’s who need it the least.

  30. Karina says

    Interesting blog. I have read all of the posts. I was laid off on 8/31/12. I am 59 years old and this is my first time collecting unemployment benefits. As of this date, I am not eligible for any federal extensions. Anyone in California who filed for unemployment after 6/30/12 is not eligible for federal extensions. Moreover, all federal extension benefits will end as of 12/31/12, unless the Feds initiate an “emergency” extension before the end of this year. I had a nice IRA but have been using it for the past two years to supplement my income, which decreased by 66% due to the economic situation for my field of expertise in the San Francisco area. I am single and collecting $1604.00 per month from UI and that barely covers rent and utilities. I can understand how unemployment could work for a couple but for a single person it is less than sufficient in the Bay Area. I have historically voted Republican but I am definitely voting for Obama this November because, as you stated earlier,”people vote with their pocket books”.

    • says

      Hi Karina,

      I didn’t realize CA people who filed for unemployment after 6/30/12 are not eligible for federal extensions. This must be new legislation yes as the CA unemployment rate dips?

      I can’t believe all Federal extensions will end on 12/31/12. I’m willing to bet whatever the Federal extensions will continue.

      Just found this on EDD:

      New Developments on Federal Unemployment Extensions
      (Updated September 25, 2012)

      En español

      09/25/12 12:00 p.m.

      Updated: Number of individuals who have run out of benefits is now over 875,700.

      We are fast approaching the end of the federal extensions of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits here in California. According to federal law, the last payable week ending date for all federal extensions is December 29, 2012. The maximum amount of benefits available in federal extensions is now up to 73 weeks of benefits depending on when your regular UI claim and extensions are filed. The chart below illustrates how the extension tiers are adjusted per federal law. Claimants should also be aware of new requirements in place to continue eligibility for extension benefits.

      At the peak of the recent recession, the federal government provided California and other high unemployment states up to 73 weeks of additional unemployment benefits through various tiers of federal extensions. Combined with regular state unemployment benefits of up to 26 weeks, out-of-work Californians could have been eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits.

      But in May of this year, the state was notified by the U.S. Department of Labor that we no longer met the minimum criteria for providing FED-ED extension benefits, typically the last stretch of up to 20 weeks of extension benefits. While California’s total unemployment rate remains high, it is not significantly higher than it was during the last three years as is required by the federal program. So the EDD cannot pay any further FED-ED benefits for weeks that end after May 12, 2012, even if someone had a remaining balance on their FED-ED extension.

      As we get closer to the end of the year, eligible unemployed workers may not qualify for all the federal extensions (Tiers 1 – 4). The majority of unemployed workers with a regular claim that qualified for 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits, claimed full weeks of benefits since the start of their claims, and had no breaks in collecting benefits (i.e., returned to work) could anticipate the following based on when their regular claim started:

      For regular claims that started after June 2012, the majority of unemployed workers may not qualify for any federal extension benefits when their regular claim ends.
      For regular claims that started after January 2012, the majority of unemployed workers may potentially qualify for up to 20 weeks in Tier 1 when their regular claim ends but not the maximum benefits available in Tiers 2-4.
      For regular claims that started after October 2011, the majority of unemployed workers may potentially qualify for up to 20 weeks in Tier 1 and up to 14 weeks in Tier 2 when their regular claim ends but not the maximum benefits available in Tier 3 and Tier 4.
      For regular claims that started after August 2011, the majority of unemployed workers may potentially qualify for up to 20 weeks in Tier 1, up to 14 weeks in Tier 2, and up to 9 weeks in Tier 3 when their regular claim ends but not the maximum benefits available in Tier 4.
      For regular claims that started after May 2011, the majority of unemployed workers may potentially qualify for up to 83 weeks available in Tier 1-4 when their regular claim ends.

      Regardless of when your regular claim or extension benefits start, December 29, 2012, will be the last week ending date that EDD can pay federal extension (Tiers 1 – 4) benefits to eligible unemployed workers, even if someone is currently unemployed or has a remaining balance on their federal extension.

      S

  31. Mary says

    I am 52 years old and work in the healthcard field. I would be very hard pressed to survive on 1, 800 a month. At this moment my biggest fear is the possibility I may lose my job this coming year. I live in California. I have worked full time without ever being unemployed, since I was 20. The fact that so many buisnesses are shuttingn in California is severely impacting my work and employment oppertunities ( if I should lose my job). I am single and live alone. My rent for a run down, 1 BR apartment is 1, 100. My insurance (the lovely Anthem Blue Cross) is now up to 805.00 per month. That leaves me with……zip. I am in a quandry. The employed person I am now would vote Republican. However, I may be unemployed and then may lean toward Democratic side. I will not state who I decided to vote for. However I will say that if I lose my job and can’t find fulltime employment, I will move to Oregon where the job market (in my field) is better.

  32. Fek says

    Why work when you can make $1,800 a month for doin’ nothin’?!

    Here’s the thing– I was working a six-figure job here in California when I was let go in June. You can do the math, but suffice it to say that $1,800 is a lot less than what I was making before. The idea that somehow, in any way, I can “collect” half of my six-figure salary in benefits is ludicrous.

    The people I know (myself included) who make any money on the side are more likely to declare it, because it helps extend how long you can collect benefits (by not receiving the money, you are leaving it in the account). You ultimately do not get ANY more money if you wind up exhausting your benefits. It’s one thing to know your benefits are going to run out, it’s another thing to be doubtful that you will find full-time employment before that happens.

    Just to continue medical coverage under COBRA would have cost $500/month– out of the $1,800 that, PS, I’m still responsible for income taxes on.

    Where does most of the money go? To stave off building expensive debt. Almost nobody who has to work a full-time job to start with is prepared for nine, six, or even three months of covering their full expenses. Very few people live working lifestyles that are remotely sustainable on a third of their income. I mean, DUH. Do you think the average person spends 1/3 of their income on expenses and then just banks or invests the rest?

    Even though I, personally, was earning six figures, I kept my fixed personal expenses to a minimum: modest car lease, creative living arrangements, a 30-day interruption in my UEI benefits has nearly wiped out my bank account.

    I’m not at all saying it’s a perfect system– far from it– but the saying that somehow you can be a do-nothing, then start collecting $1,800 a month is worse than dishonest.

    • says

      Can you elaborate on how declaring side income helps extend how long you can collect benefits? As far as I known, you get benefits if you are unemployed for as long as the state and federal gov’t is willing to pay if you fill out the form and look for work.

      Are you sure most people don’t save some of their wages and have passive income streams? Check out this post on “How Much Savings Should I Have By Age” written on 12/4/12.

      I don’t understand how a 30-day interruption in getting UB ($1,800 a month) can WIPE OUT your bank account when you were earning six figure? What on earth are you spending money on?!

      When you pay into the system all these years through a lower salary by your employer, why is it dishonest to collect your money back if you can’t find a job?

      Finally, never quit your job, get laid instead.

      • Kerri says

        The money does run out. Now the government is in sequestration, and the extension benes are being cut.

        Every state has a max benefit as well, no one makes half of their 6 figure salary. I’d be surprised if anyone on UI makes $40,000. And this is all taxed: fed and state. Employees do not “pay into” the UI system. UI is an INSURANCE premium the EMPLOYER pays based on the number of employees.

        When applying for UI immediately after a termination, one is “awarded” a benefit generally good for 26 weeks at a fixed $ amount. They have up to 52 weeks to collect that fixed $ amount. So to clarify, because this is always confusing: the fixed $ amount will be 0 after 26 weeks of continuous collecting. If you work and claim you’ve made money, the weekly amount is reduced by what you made and you can collect for that much longer because the balance is not draining as quickly.

        The Emergency Extensions were rolled out in 4 tiers. Once you clear out the full amount of the original benefit you are enrolled in the 1st tier. Again, you must be eligible for another fixed $ amount. You will be able to collect that amount over the next x amount of weeks. Once that fixed amount has reduced to $0, you go to the next tier. Etc.

        By telling UI that you have earned some money, one would retain that UI benefit. IE, if the weekly amount was 400, you claimed you earned 100, UI sends a check for 300, and that 100 remains in the balance, thus extending the amount of time you can continue to claim against it. The reason was so if you took a temporary position, you would have a balance to come back to.

        Originally, if you took a position that lasted long enough so your claim expired and then were terminated, you would not be eligible for benefits until after you had made 3x or 4x the amount of your claim (varies by state). As specific industries have been collapsing, people were flocking to competitors.. who then also collapse.. you may see how easy it could be to quickly fall on very difficult times even if you were lucky enough to get another job within a few months.

        Sequestration has now reduced the amounts in all the tiers. And the eligibility for the 4th tier is starting to expire.

        If you have not experienced this new corporate phenomenon.. companies hire you as a permanent employee and impose a probationary period (typical). As you reach the 90 or 180 day mark, the job ends, the company reorganizes, terminates you and you are back to UI.

        Or, worse still, your ex employer contacts you to offer a job on 1099 status, but at original employee pay rates. 1099′s must pay their own self employment taxes, etc. Now you are working at HALF the employees pay and when the job ends, there is no UI available because you are an independent contractor.

        It’s just tons of fun out here looking for good paying jobs. I’m having a blast collecting less than half my salary and watching everyone bicker about my lazy ass.

        Note that we can’t even enroll for four year degree programs. That is not approved education in most states, and disqualifies you from UI benefits! Just how f*ed up is that?!?! I have an AAS. I’m taking certificate classes and paying for them via credit card because financial aid (READ: BANK LOANS, not more free government money!!) does not apply unless you are enrolled in a degree program.

        If the gov’t is funding my UI, why wouldn’t it be prudent for me to give back that $$ to a state school to get a degree? A higher degree is proven to retain higher paying jobs and further the economy. There are even graphs on my state’s UI sites that show this! This is pretty ridiculous.

        http://www.qualityinfo.org/olmisj/OlmisZine?zineid=00000005

  33. lynn says

    Can you tell me if my UI will be reduced by my necessity for signing up for social security due to no job? i’ll be 63 this year, so i’m on the early side starting ss now, but cannot make my financial obligations on UI alone. it’s very confusing. i need some clarity — does washington state reduce your ui benefits if you sign up for and start collecting ss?

  34. jwiz says

    I have been a seasonal worker in NYS for several yrs. I usually max out by using my alternate quarter. This year has been a complete nightmare using UI. It’s impossible to contact UI. I am still waiting for UI to increase my benefit rate, 4wks of waiting. Thankfully I had a moderate amount saved, but that doesn’t last.
    I am not required to look for work because I have a predetermined call back, and I am a union worker. My work is found thru my union.
    I don’t know anyone who prefers to be unemployed to having a real paycheck. NYS UI only pays 1/26 of your highest quarter and maxes out @ 405$. That isn’t living high on the hog! Thankfully I only collect 4 months out of each yr. If I exhaust the 26 weeks I would end up homeless, and at 405 I wouldn’t qualify for any other government assistance.
    NYS UI needs a better system of connecting to an actual person from the department of unemployment. I have spent everyday the last 10 days trying to contact UI, I have called every 1 1/2 with no luck. The system only allows you so many attempts to have a call back and then simply hangs up on you. It’s a living nightmare!! The bonus is that even going into your local “unemployment office” serves no purpose because they have no authority to handle issues of UI, ie… alternate quarter payments, non payment ect…. The people in the office can only simply direct you to call the number lol…. It has become a complete joke.

  35. Joker says

    I am sorry Financial Samurai but if I met a 28 year old sunshine girl in a hot tub with nothing to do I am not sure that I would be too interested in discussing her employment status, art work, or future vacation plans – but maybe its just me!

  36. tammy says

    i have been working since i was 16 and recently turned 50 and have never claimed unemployment. i have decided to return to school because i am sick to death of retail and realize that i still have 20 years in the job market. my years of employment and my age make me eligible for retirement with my current company but that does not help if i cant collect on the unemployment . i would like to do a full class load but cant work full time and achieve that goal; and definately cant afford to have no money coming is as we are struggling as it is. the company is growing by leaps and bounds so i wont be laid off and quitting wont work; there isnt a good reason for it. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  37. Fred says

    I am a former NYS worker; ended mid May. I just got 5 days vacation pay. I plan to admit that this Sunday when I make my claim. But what are the repercussions? Does my $400/week get wiped out?

  38. Poppy says

    For people who think unemployment should be taken advantage of, move to France – you can enjoy your life in a system that punishes people for being enterprising and reward laziness. That is what happens when everyone takes their 99weeks. Please don’t change the US for the worse.
    Unemployment is helpful but not a means to an end.

    And for the record, yes, the cost of living in Hawaii is comparable to San Fran and NYC but did you bother looking into the salary of the average person living in SF/NYC compared to Hawaii?

    Cut it by 20-30% if you’re seeking employment and make do with that + add the competitive market and the fact that it is very much a small town mentality and based on who you know.
    The average house is 300k min unless you want a very long 3-4hr commute. If you want a home that’s comparable in size and acreage to the mainland, they run 600-700k and they’re not on large acreages.

    I’ve lived in all 3 places – for the most part, Hawaii is a beautiful place to live, and for $4000 a month a couple can live the life if there are no mortgages or debt, but you have to make that much to qualify for the max first so realistically – how many of said people in Hawaii can do that?

    But if you want to come here and bum out on your unemployment, Aloha! We sure could use your spending money.

  39. says

    Interesting article. I recently became unemployed my employer terminated me without giving any reasons, any notice, any pink note, 2 weeks notice, or whatever… neither my Boss was there… they just told me “you cannot access the building, your relationship with the company doesn’t exist, go and start a new life…” (that was the Building Security, no one else talked to me)

    They were taking unemployments for my paycheck so I applied and got my UIC ($374 Weekly). Now I’m getting a 1 month contract for $16 per hour… just for 1 month… I’m not gonna do it if I’m gonna loose my UIC that I have, and covered at least through summer….

    I prefer to use the time and money to get a Course, Certification or Training in something that can “upgrade” my Resume, and from there find a good job.

  40. Bill says

    Hello. This post will be somewhat lengthy and I hope someone will take the time to read it and hopefully be able to offer some advice. Thank you in advance. I was laid off a good paying job at the end of December 2011. I was eligible for Unemployment benefits that penciled out to about half of my accustomed wage. At 58, I have been in the print advertising field for 30 years. My industry has taken a beating the last few years with newspapers and magazines shutting down or downsizing and any available advertising jobs in my area becoming scarce. Coupled with the digital revolution and the recession of the last few years, many older veterans of the industry (myself included) are being let go, or displaced by younger folks who have grown up during the digital age. Ten months (October 2012) after being let go from my last good job in December 2011, I finally was hired on by a newspaper that I commuted 100 miles round trip daily to. But it was the best I could get and I was aware that my benefits would not last much longer. In ten short months working for this newspaper (where I again earned about half of my normal income) I found myself back on the street looking for work again as this publication downsized (September 2013). I was eligible for benefits again and claimed through December 2013. From December 2011 to December 2013 I had to sell my home of 22 years, had a serious health issue, found myself over $20,000 in debt, living on a credit card and during the 2-3 months of health benefits I had during these two years I was told I could not use the benefits for my health issue because it was a Pre-Existing Condition. Needless to say, I was heading to the street. At the end of October 2013 after sending out many resumes without any response, I was contacted by an individual regarding a part-time contractor position selling advertising on the road for a small magazine. I was told I would be paid $750 a week for any week I worked but that I was responsible for all my own expenses (gas, food, taxes etc) and that there was not an office (the company was in another state). Initially I was also told there was also a ‘buy in’ of $150 for materials (work samples to show potential clients etc.). I was leery, as it seemed sketchy, but desperate for work and obviously money, so I gave it a shot. During November and December I was paid for some of the weeks I worked this contractor job, and I claimed benefits as well until the end of December, when the extended benefits ran out (Dec. 28, 2013). Last Monday (April 1, 2014) I was contacted by my state employment office and was left a generic message to call back to ‘chat’. I was left a second message today saying to call back and if I didn’t ‘a decision would be made on my claim based on existing information’ by Monday morning April 7, 2014. I have no other information and am not sure why they are calling as I have not claimed any benefits since December 2013. Would anyone have any idea why they would be calling? Right now, I’m still in a very tough situation and making $10 an hour as a Front Desk Clerk at a hotel. If you have any advice to share, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for reading.

    • says

      Hi Bill,

      They basically want to:

      1) Genuinely see how you are doing.

      2) See if you are legally collecting unemployment benefits.

      Basically, if you work even part-time, your unemployment benefits get reduced by a similar amount earned. This is why most people on unemployment don’t bother working a low paying job, or work and just receive cash.

      I would do my best to reach out to them and set up a time.

      PS Definitely try and use paragraphs when typing.

      Good luck!

      Sam

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