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Question about collecting unemployment

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BB Bobcat, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    Say you are collecting unemployment, but during that time you do a little freelance assignment or something and make $100. You fill that out on the bi-weekly form. As I understand it, they deduct that amount from what they pay you in unemployment, but tack it on to the end of your eligibility.

    So here's where that seems weird to me.

    Scenario A: I sit on my butt all week picking lint out of my bellybutton, watching Jerry Springer and surfing the internet for porn, and I collect my $450 unemployment.

    Scenario B: I work the phones all week and rustle up three freelance assignments that pay me $200, so I get that $200 plus $250 in unemployment, a net result of the same $450. Of course, I could get that extra $200 back in six months, if I still don't have a job.

    In scenario B, it seems I'm working for money that I'll hopefully never see (hoping I'm not still unemployed in six months).

    Am I missing something? Is that really how it works?

    (This is California, by the way. It probably works a little differently in each state.)
  2. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    You're missing Scenario C: Work the phones for $200, don't report it, collect $450 in unemployment. Not that it's legal, but I'm sure a lot of people do it.
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    You are assuming that your state will allow you to collect unemployment for a week that you reported income -- even if it wasn't 450
  4. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    Well, I'm pretty sure they will. If not, it's couch potato time for me for six months.

    As for not reporting the income, I wouldn't think that would work with anyone that's got my SSN, cuz they are goign to report it to the IRS, presumably, and it could eventually come back to haunt me, right?

    How bout Plan D: Sit around on the couch and collect my $450 while my wife goes out and makes some money :)
  5. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Winner winner chicken dinner!
  6. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    State I'm familiar with, they pro-rate what they pay out in unemployment based on what you earn that week.

    To use your example, you would report the $200 in self-employment income. The state would deduct $100 from the $450 benefit and send you a check for $350. So you'd end up with $550. But I don't think it adds any time to your eligibility period. It just keeps your "account" more flush in case you need that money within the eligibility and don't have self-employment to put against it.

    Good luck. And yes, I've explored this closely because of, y'know, the current climate everywhere.
  7. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    I'm in the same boat, I want to keep writing, but why should I if the state of California will pay me more to stay home?
    Before being laid off, I already had a regular freelance gig, so I'm taking a chance not reporting that income, because I would be making that money whether or not I was still fulltime.
    I've been able to line up about $200 a week in freelance gigs, and thinking of reporting it as all coming in the same week, figuring I get more if they hold one $450 check instead of taking a couple hundred each week.
    Any report they get from the IRS won't report specific dates of assignments.
  8. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I don't know California, but in Maryland, I believe the way it works is that you report whatever income you make in a week. If it's less than $100, you get your full benefit. If it's more than $100, you get your benefit check less the amount over $100 that you made. That also extends the money for your "benefit year" to the end of the cycle.

    If you don't still have a job six months later, you'd have that money you didn't get on that week's check available to you.
  9. pseudo

    pseudo Well-Known Member

    In PA, you can make up to 40 percent of your weekly benefit rate before they begin deducting it from your UE. Anything you make over that, you lose dollar-for-dollar. (My current numbers are $452 and $181. There's no way I'd pull in over $180 in a single week from the paper, a small-town weekly, so I'm good to go.)

    So, if you lived here, you'd have the $200 from the gig + $430 from UE (40% of $450 is $180, so you'd lose the $20 over that.)

    Still have to report it, although I'm wondering how that works in my case, since I never signed a contract or gave the paper my SSN info. I doubt they're reporting it on their end, but I do need to check that ...

    Anyway, enough sidetracking into my own situation. Here's what California says:
    So, it looks like you'd have the $200 plus a UE check for $300 [$450 - ($200 x 75%)]. When our factory puts people "on call," some of them stop answering the phone after they work a couple of days in a given week, because they can make more between a partial paycheck/full unemployment that they would by working 40 hours.

    There's some funny wording about ineligibility in there, though, so you'd best do your own research instead of taking my word for it.

    Good luck.
  10. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    That's the way it is here. Pro-rated.

    To the original poster, are these steady freelance gigs or just one-time only shots? Because I don't believe it gets reported to the IRS unless its over $600.
  11. silvercharm

    silvercharm Member

    I found that reporting freelance work to unemployment was such a pain in the ass, that if I had to do it over again, I'm not sure I would. They send you questionaires and forms, and it's not so much the money, they think if you're freelancing, that's time you're not spending looking for a full-time job. That seems to be the goal in my state, making sure you're fully employed.
  12. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    To be honest, it's not a writing thing at all that I'm doing. It's just an independenent contractor, once-in-a-while, weekend-type thing. For what I've actually done, they don't even have my SSN, but they did pay me by check, so there's a paper trail. I'm still debating whether or not to report it.

    While I was typing this post, I got a call from a head-hunter who had a temporary contract job for me writing stories for a company's internal publications. Wow.
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