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Will You Lose Your Unemployment Insurance Benefits If You Refuse To Return To Work?

Updated : August 4th, 2020

To contain the pandemic, the states had asked their citizens to stay at home. This measure forced many businesses to shut down temporarily and furlough their employees. To help the unemployed meet their financial requirements, the states had announced the CARES Act, which included various unemployment insurance benefits programs.

As states plan to reopen the economy, businesses are beginning to reopen their doors. But with the Coronavirus continuing to spread, not everyone is ready to resume the employment. According to the survey report by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland, about 67% of people are not comfortable going back to work. 

So what happens if you are not willing to go back to work? Will you lose your unemployment insurance benefits? 

Will You Lose Your Unemployment Insurance Benefits If You Don’t Go Back To Your Job?

You may lose your unemployment insurance benefits if you turn down your employer’s request to rejoin the work. However, under certain circumstances, you can refuse to return the work while continuing to claim the benefits. This includes:

  • You are at risk of contracting the Coronavirus
  • Your family member is tested positive for the Coronavirus
  • You have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus by the test authorized by your state and have not yet recovered
  • Your child’s daycare or school and there is no alternatives
  • You are in 14-day quarantine due to exposure to the Coronavirus

Some other exceptions include:

1. Your Employer Has Made Changes Your Work Without Your Agreement

You can refuse to go back to work and continue to receive your UI benefits if your employer has made drastic changes to your job without your notice. This can include moving you to a facility that requires a longer duration to commute, changes to your assignment working hours or shift, or drastic pay cut. However, you cannot turn down the work due to small changes like adding an extra hour to your regular shift.

2. Your Employer Is Not Providing Safe Workplace

As businesses reopen, they must follow guidelines that are issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect their employees. 

Employers have the responsibility of providing well-maintained hand-washing stations, personal protective equipment such as masks or gloves, and additional sanitation. They should also ensure that social distancing is maintained in the workplace. 

If businesses fail to follow the guidelines mentioned above, then you can quit or turn down the job with good cause and claim your unemployment benefits. 

However, you may be disqualified from receiving UI benefits if there is a way to take the job without compromising your health and safety, but you have refused to work. 

You will not receive the benefits if your employer has allowed you to telework, but you have turned down the job. 

What Happens If You Return To Work?

When you resume the work, you will stop receiving the unemployment benefits. If you have returned to your work or have taken a new job in the middle of a week, you should report your working hours and earnings as you may qualify to receive a partial benefit payment.

What If You Lose Your Job Again?

In case you lose your employment again, then you can apply for unemployment benefits. To apply for benefits, you must provide information about your recent gross earnings, contact information, direct deposit, and tax withholding details. 

Final Words

The authorities at your state’s unemployment benefits office will evaluate your situation to determine if you have turned down your work with good cause or not. If they find out that you have refused to return to your job with good cause, they will approve your unemployment benefits.

 

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  1. I was approved for extended benefits after exhausting PUA and the 26 weeks UI in Ohio. I have been looking for work, but also have had major health challenges and am finding getting back to “normal” slow going. I have a EB approval letter, and am currently receiving payments. When I look at the EB payment stub it shows my payment amount, and then the remaining approved amount (diminished by the weekly payment). So… do I get to exhaust the balance stated (which would take the weekly payments into 2021), or do my extended benefit payments expire on Dec 26 with the Federal program?

  2. I’m considering moving from MA to another state to pursue available work. I CAN NOT get hold of a human or find any info online about the ramifications of transferring my residence. Is there any information available that I’m missing or anyone having gone through the process of moving while collecting unemployment?

  3. I accidentally filed my UI unemployment amount wrong. I wrote that I made 25k last year when it was more like 12k with the pandemic problems. The issue was that I included my student loans in my income amount. Now I’m concerned about it being audited and how to fix this. I know I will have to pay back an amount but this is a lot of stress. I cannot get ahold of anyone in a timely manner and so I am wondering if anyone has an idea as to how to fix this appropriately?

    1. Ashley,

      I suggest you check the “Resources” section of the official website of the Unemployment Office or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if feasible.

  4. my benefit in missouri ru has exhausted they send me a letter about my peuc until dec 26 2020 how long it take to receive peuc

    1. Debra,

      The processing will certainly take a couple of weeks of time owing to the pendency. Please keep checking/following up at regular intervals.

  5. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

    1. I’m having similar issue.. I was accepted and was receiving payments for three months.. then it was stopped 5 weeks ago to check a possibility of fraud.. there was a determination to confirm my identity again.. this after the same office gives me insurance and food help and was taking partial of money to pay two different child support claims.. they don’t think I’m who I say I am.. and it just sits there pending.. what can be done to get this fixed.

  6. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much
    Lorraine

  7. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  8. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  9. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  10. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  11. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  12. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  13. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  14. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  15. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  16. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  17. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  18. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  19. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    Inbox
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

    1. Again basically I’ve also been put on hold for a ridiculously stupid reason.. Why can’t this issue be quickly handled. Is the any where we can get action if we already were receiving benefits and have been stopped suddenly

      1. Greg,

        I can understand your frustration. The Unemployment Office might be inundated with pending requests. Please visit the website to find the answers.

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