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5 Things You Can't Do While Collecting Unemployment

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on September 24, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When a worker loses his or her job, unemployment insurance is designed to provide income while the worker looks for a new job.

For those who are eligible to receive unemployment insurance, it can often be the only thing preventing them from falling behind on bills, car payments, mortgages, and other financial obligations. But along with each state's eligibility requirements for receiving unemployment benefits, there are typically additional requirements for keeping benefits once they've started.

How might you lose out on employment benefits or even potentially face criminal prosecution for unemployment fraud? Here are five things you can't do while collecting unemployment:

  1. Refuse a suitable job offer. If you refuse a job that is overly physically demanding or pays too low a wage, you can likely continue to collect benefits. But if you refuse a job that is merely inconvenient or pays only slightly less than your former job, you may be denied further benefits.
  2. Go on an extended vacation. Those who are receiving unemployment benefits are generally required to be available to take a job if one becomes available. If you are going on an extended trip out of town, you will typically be unable to claim benefits for the time you're gone, and if you fail to report your vacation, may be charged with unemployment fraud.
  3. Be too sick to work. You may also be disqualified from receiving benefits if you are too sick to work. In Kansas, for example, claiming you are available for work while in the hospital may constitute unemployment fraud.
  4. Fail to report income. Even if you only work part-time or are hired to do temporary work, most states, like California, require the reporting of any income to your state's unemployment insurance provider. Failure to do so may lead to loss of benefits or prosecution for unemployment fraud.
  5. Not look for work. In addition to being available for work, those receiving unemployment benefits are also generally required to actively look for jobs and in some states, such as Texas, provide verification of their job search when requested.

To learn more about unemployment benefits, check out FindLaw's free Guide to Unemployment Insurance.

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