Suspended Unemployment Benefits
Updated : July 27th, 2022
There will be times when you will be intimidated by that letter you receive by mail or a notification sent via e mail or call. The messenger from the state informs you about a temporary suspension or disqualification from receiving unemployment insurance. This will be a testing phase for you and your family if you’re dependent on the weekly benefits provided by the government.
First of all, do not panic. There is absolutely no point in expressing anguish which will worsen the situation. You must sit down and discuss the reason for suspension or disqualification.
Any time benefits are denied or suspended, the state will send you a letter explaining:
- Why was it denied/suspended
- for what time period
- how to requalify
- procedure to appeal if you disagree
Common Reasons for Denial of Unemployment Benefits
The most common (the list is not exhaustive) grounds for disqualification of benefits are given below.
You Are Not Able and Available
To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be unemployed through no fault of your own. That means if you could work but you choose not to, you usually can’t collect unemployment benefits. Depending on the state, this includes necessary non-work obligations that are imposed on you, such as those presented by family. For example, if you have a sick relative who needs attentive care, this might not be a valid reason for avoiding employment and collecting benefits. However, you can also explore collecting future benefits through something like SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance).
You Are Not Looking for Work
Unemployment benefits are meant to carry you through temporary unemployment. Unemployment assistance is not meant to provide you with free money so you can avoid returning to the workforce. While you are collecting UI benefits, you must be engaged in a job search.
You Are Not a U.S. Citizen or Documented Resident
Unemployment benefits are only for citizens and documented resident aliens. That means if you have a work visa, you must be documented by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
You Are Attending School or Training
If you were a worker in gainful employment, and you also happen to be attending night school or community college, this unemployment suspension factor does not apply to you. But if you are a full-time student enrolled in a four-year university or technical school, you cannot collect some extra weekend money by filing for unemployment. Incidentally, the same is true if you recently graduated from college and are engaged in a work search. A benefit payment is meant to replace the earnings of a wage from a previous job, not to assist those who have yet to enter the workforce.
You Were Fired for a Reason
What we refer to here is an employee who was terminated from an employment relationship for something like gross misconduct or aggravated misconduct. An example of these eligibility requirements that bar someone from collecting benefits would be things like starting a fight in the workplace, stealing or embezzling, vandalizing company property, or even repeated absences and tardy arrivals at work. If there was good cause to fire you but it was minor or simple misconduct, such as a one-time event that created a negative impact on business but whereby you exhibited no intentional malice, malfeasance, or substantial negligence, you can still collect benefits.
You Have Committed UI Fraud
If you’ve lied on your benefit application about anything material or withheld relevant, pertinent facts (for example, you’re enrolled as a full-time student), you may be disqualified from collecting unemployment benefits. You may even need to repay all the benefits you previously received under the assumption that your application was truthful. This punishment can be particularly aggravating for individuals who have already spent the money paid out to them. Of course, if you feel that you represented yourself in good faith but that there was some misunderstanding, you can always look at unemployment appeals.
Your Base Period Wages are Insufficient
To qualify for unemployment benefits, a claimant typically needs to have worked for at least two quarters out of the last four before collecting benefits. This is not about how much money you made at work, but whether you were employed. If you work somewhere for a few weeks and then get fired, you are not eligible for collecting unemployment. However, take note that if you were already collecting unemployment, started a new job, stopped collecting, and got fired shortly thereafter, you may be able to reopen your case and resume collecting.
You Didn’t Show up for Your Interview
There are going to be periodic meeting requirements where you will need to report to a local unemployment office to discuss your search for a new, viable economic opportunity. You may also have telephone interviews to discuss the facts of your application. If you miss these in-person or phone interviews, you could lose out on collecting future benefits. One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re once again employed, you should not just ignore these summons, because this can be construed as fraudulent behavior and the benefits you collected are put into question. Rather, you should learn the specific process for how to stop filing for unemployment.
You Can Already Collect Military Benefits
If you were recently discharged from the military, you may already be collecting benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, both at the state and federal levels. Unemployment benefits were not set up to help veterans transition to civilian life or retirement. There are other types of benefits and programs that can assist with this, particularly in terms of helping servicemembers find employment security after they have been discharged.
You’re Actually Employed
If you are actually working part-time, full-time, or through self-employment activities such as contracting, and you have earned more money than you report on your weekly filing, you can have future benefits suspended. Keep in mind that there is a paper trail to follow when it comes to these concerns. For instance, if you are an independent contractor, anyone who obtains more than $400 of work from you per year will need to report that to the IRS. Vacation pay, holiday pay, severance pay, and bonus pay you obtain after being terminated from a job may also count against receiving unemployment benefits. If you are employed once again but continue to collect benefits, remember that your employer is reporting your income to the IRS.
You Were Overpaid Benefits
There may be instances in which you were overpaid unemployment benefits, such as where it was retroactively discovered that you collected benefits when you started a new job. Or, perhaps you began collecting unemployment but did not accurately represent how much money you were previously making, resulting in higher benefit payments. If you need to collect unemployment moving forward or you ever need to collect unemployment again, you can be denied benefits until these overpaid benefits are returned in full.
You Are Receiving a Pension or Severance Pay
Whether it’s a continual monthly payment or a lump sum payment, you may end up collecting less unemployment because of pension or severance pay – or being denied unemployment altogether. Unemployment is not like Social Security in that it’s not set up to provide financial assistance to retirees. However, in some cases, there can be those who retire from a job while pensioned, reenter the workforce in a different context, and are then fired and need to collect unemployment. These individuals may qualify for unemployment if the amount of their pension benefits does not disqualify them. Some companies offer terminated employees severance pay. While this payment is ongoing, you will likely not be able to collect unemployment, but it depends on the amount you are receiving.
You Turned Down a Job or Job Referral
If you are offered a job but turn it down, you can lose unemployment benefits. However, the job offer must meet certain requirements in terms of providing you with suitable employment. Something with a significantly lower wage than you had at your previous job, or something that is too physically demanding, does not count towards a refusal resulting in unemployment insurance benefit suspension. As an example, a CPA earning $70,000 per year does not have to accept a job offer to flip burgers for $12.50 an hour or a gig on a construction crew. But they may need to accept a job at an accounting firm that only pays $67,000 per year, even though the salary is lower than that of their previous job.
You Quit Your Job
If you decided to quit your job voluntarily, you cannot collect unemployment in most circumstances. There may be instances in which this is possible, but it needs to be for good cause. If you quit but decide to portray it as a termination initiated by your employer, this is certainly a form of unemployment fraud. This is why, if you are still employed, even if your employment seems intolerable you should make an action plan for finding another form of employment, rather than relying on government benefits.
Do I Re qualify?
After scrutinizing the reason for suspension or disqualification you may decide to reapply on amended terms if it is not severe. Follow the procedure laid out in the enclosures provided (that may come along with the letter of suspension/disqualification) that will provide instructions to reapply to re qualify for unemployment insurance and other benefits.
If you have met the re-qualifying requirements, and have stopped filing weekly claim certifications you must reactivate your claim.
A review of your claim will be done to establish that you have met the requirements. You may be sent requests for information to establish that you have met the re qualifying requirements. Complete the requests and return by the due date.
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