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Friday, August 29, 2008

Applying For Unemployment Benefits Can Blow Up In Your Face

Sometimes you just don’t finish on top. The last time I worked a job was quite a few years ago, and unfortunately, I was fired. I was chronically late, and at a call center, that’s very bad. Very bad. That last time that I was late, I had a great excuse for not making it on time, but there was no room for negotiation. I had acquired too many demerits in too short a period of time, so I was let go.

The next step for me was applying for unemployment benefits. I had always been warned that getting fired from a job could disqualify one from receiving them, but my mom advised me to apply anyway. “The worst thing that could happen is that you get denied, right?”, she asked. I agreed with her sentiment and went for it. They approved me, and I was relieved. I would be getting married in less than six months, so I couldn’t afford to go from a full-time income to no income at all. I figured that since I would be moving to a new city once I got married, never to work again, I could simply receive the unemployment benefits until they ran out, and life would go on.

And that’s exactly what happened.

That is, until I received a letter from the state at my new address 150 miles away letting me know that my unemployment benefits were being disputed. I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t even know that such a thing existed. I received unemployment checks for months - why would the company dispute my eligibility after they had already paid the money? I was so young at the time that I didn’t even realize that it was my former employer footing the bill to begin with, so the entire ordeal was a whirlwind of confusion and questions. It also hurt my feelings because my former manager and boss personally signed off on the dispute. It truly was business, and nothing personal, but it sure felt personal. I couldn’t understand the fairness in being approved for unemployment benefits by the state and then being denied after the fact. If I was receiving unemployment benefits, the assumption would logically be that I do not have enough money to pay them back, or else I wouldn’t have needed them to begin with! I felt like I was being robbed at gunpoint.

And that’s almost what happened.

There was a hearing, and it did not go well. My former employer had a lawyer present - I was totally blindsided. I didn’t even know I needed legal representation, considering that the hearing was not before a judge. They ran me through the mud, my former manager speaking about me as if we never had any camaraderie at all. I was ordered to pay back every dime of a benefit that I was told legally belonged to me. However, just spending all that we had on our wedding and post-nuptial activities, we didn’t have the few thousands dollars that my former employer demanded. And so our joint state tax returns were garnished for a few years.

I later found out that I was not the only person I knew who had experienced this. Another young friend of mine found himself behind the barrel of the same gun, except General Motors was conducting the stickup that time. Who knew that just like buckshot spraying from a barrel, applying for unemployment benefits could blow up in your face?

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Anonymous Debt Blog said...

Wow. I had no idea an employer could dispute the claim and get their money back. I applied for and received benefits many, many years ago, and all went fine, and I was fired too (I had an illness and I kept calling out; some days I was too exhausted and depressed to even call my boss, and I got fired.)

The only thing I didn't like about jobless benefits is that you have to pay taxes on that money.

Great story. Thanks for sharing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

That's unbelievable! Thanks for telling readers about your story.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 3:36:00 PM  
Blogger Defiant Symmetry said...

Unemployment insurance is paid both by the employer and the employee. The employer can and does have the right to dispute your unemployment insurance payment, because basically, they are paying your wages while you're not working for them.

Unfortunately, it was a sad situation for you, but they were not going to fire you and then end up going to pay your wages while you were not in their employment. If this should happen to you again, make sure you have a lawyer to represent you. In my case, I had the same thing happen to me, but I won the case (without a lawyer) because they wanted me to do something unethical.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Hedy said...

Wow, I never knew that. Scary.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 7:50:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Holy cow. That sucks. I quit my job so I dont think I can file for unemployment. Hopefully my job search doesnt take too long. But now I will be extra careful in the future. Thanks for the heads up

Thursday, September 04, 2008 8:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should have showed up on time, you lazy ass. I'm glad you owe the money.

Friday, September 05, 2008 1:31:00 PM  
Anonymous JD said...

I would be getting married in less than six months, so I couldn’t afford to go from a full-time income to no income at all. I figured that since I would be moving to a new city once I got married, never to work again

Wow.. who's the lucky guy who gets to marry a lazy deadbeat like you?

Sunday, September 07, 2008 8:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Unemployment Benefits said...

> I'm glad you owe the money...

I think you missed the point. She was approved for benefits and then was asked to pay it back later. That's wrong. If the claim was not legit then the authorities should have denied her claim. The state made her pay for their mistake, and that's disgusting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous I.C. Jackson said...


Some readers have missed the entire point of the article.

My anecdote was not about whether or not I was entitled to unemployment benefits or not; if you read it carefully (as opposed to just skimming through it), you will see that I did not think I was eligible. I also didn't understand how the system worked at that time, so I simply applied to see what would happen. The point was that if I was not eligible, I should have never been approved.

If you're looking for a deadbeat to judge, maybe you should watch daytime reality television or something like that. Successful writers and entrepreneurs who are secure enough in themselves to share stories about past mistakes and experiences do not make good targets.

I don't have to worry about being in such a position ever again because I don't have to work a job anymore. There is nothing wrong with having a job; I'm just a lot better at being the boss than answering to one.

However, since all of you perfect naysayers have never made bad choices or done anything unwise, I'm sure that it was your high life upon the proverbial pedastal that caused you to miss the entire point of my post.

It's alright; we ALL make mistakes, don't we?

Have a great day, readers ;-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Prime Rate said...

> Successful writers and
> entrepreneurs who are secure
> enough in themselves to share
> stories about past mistakes...


I was very disappointed to see the many commenters over at the MSN blog who were so quick to judge. I guess I wasn't fully aware of how narrow-minded many in the blogosphere are.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 6:17:00 PM  

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