Common Mistakes Made by UI Claimants
Unemployment Insurance (UI) provides temporary financial assistance to qualified individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and who continue to meet eligibility requirements of state and federal law. Anyone who collects UI benefits is legally responsible for making sure he or she follows the requirements set by state law.
Navigating through the UI system can be confusing. If you have a question about your responsibilities or the requirements of receiving benefits that is not covered in your claimant handbook, A Guide to Benefits and Employment Services, you may contact the UI program.
Common mistakes and misconceptions claimants have about the eligibility requirements of the UI Program:
- Not reporting income from part-time or temporary work while looking for a full-time position. You must report your gross wages (before your taxes are taken out) for each week you work and certify for benefits, even if you don’t get paid until later. Be sure to accurately report on all earnings during your weekly claim certification – even those from part-time or temporary work. If you collect more UI benefits than you are eligible for because you fail to report earnings, you may be committing fraud and may be prosecuted.
- Waiting until you receive your first paycheck before notifying the state UI office that you have returned to work. As soon as you begin working, be sure to notify the EDD UI program on your bi-weekly certification in the week in which you worked. Do not wait until you receive your first paycheck to report your return to work. The UI agency uses state and national resources to track new hires, so it is in your best interest to report your return to work immediately to avoid the serious consequences of an improper payment.
- Believing that Unemployment benefits are yours – which you paid into an account while you were working. Not true. Employers, not employees, fund the UI program.
- Not actively searching for work. Except when someone is exempt by law, you must search for work each week that you file a claim for benefits. If you do not search for work during a week in which you file a claim, benefits may be denied until you show that you have started looking for work. Check out the America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM (formerly known as One-Stop Career Centers) to learn about different kinds of jobs, their availability, and how to get training. Use the EDD Office Locator to find a career center near you. Contact the EDD for more information and assistance with planning an effective work search.
- Not being available to accept a new job. In order to collect benefits, you must continually verify that you are able, available, and willing to accept suitable work. Possible conflicts like attending school during work hours, limitations with child care or transportation could limit your work availability and be an eligibility issue. Report such issues on your bi-weekly certification.
Anyone who collects UI benefits is legally responsible for making sure he or she follows the requirements set by state law. Failure to follow the rules can result in serious consequences. Consequences for not following UI regulations can include:
- Prosecution by government authorities.
- Possible jail or prison sentences.
- Repaying the UI benefits collected, plus penalties and fines.
- Forfeiting future income tax refunds.
- Losing the eligibility to collect UI benefits in the future.
Believe that you‘ve made a mistake? Get help. Contact the UI program and ask for help to address the issue.
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