Saturday, May 26, 2007

Unemployment Insurance: Get a Job (But Don't Work)!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by an acquaintance who works for a visual design studio for the medical and education fields. She wanted to know if I was available for a short term (less than 10 hours) consulting contract to give them feedback on a game they're creating for at-rsik youth. The hourly pay was excellent, I had plenty of time, and the subject matter is near and dear to me, so of course I did the work.

One of the questions on my weekly unemployment claim form is "did you work in self-employment last week?" For that week, I acknowledged that I did and I declared my income from that job. You'd think they'd just deduct what I made from my normal weekly benefit, but NOOOO. They might as well have chased me down with hand-cuffs! I felt like a criminal when I got the letter tsk-tsk-ing me for working. How dare I work when I'm unemployed?! I had to fill out two five-page surveys, proving that I wasn't actually earning a regular income from self-employment, that I'm still seeking a "real" job, and pretty much promising that I'll never accept hourly contract work again while I'm also collecting unemployment. HUH?! Silly me... I figured that by working when I can I'd extend my benefits. I also assumed -- perhaps erroneously -- that working and earning money was the goal, and that the more I worked, the better it was for all concerned. After hours of filling out stupid forms saying, essentially, Yes, I'm still unemployed, but I'm taking jobs I can, when I can because some job is better than no job, I've realized that the smart thing to do next time I'm confronted with this situation is to either not accept the work, ask them to pay me under the table, or not declare the income. I'm no goody-goody (OK, maybe I actually am, kinda...), but they sure make it close to impossible to supplement unemployment income with an honest day's work!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said.

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