There are specific rules that define if a person is eligible for unemployment insurance. Ideally, these rules would make it possible for people who truly need this kind of support to receive it, while weeding out those who are not supposed to be getting it. Intentionally misusing unemployment insurance has some very negative consequences.
Each state will have their own, specific, qualifications that a person must meet in order to be eligible for unemployment insurance. It is a federally run program, but it also allows each state to have some autonomy about how the program will work within a particular state.
All states require a person to be an American citizen in order to receive unemployment insurance benefits. From there, it varies a little bit. In general, you have to have lost your job due to no fault of your own. This means that you were laid off, or the company completely went out of business, or the corporation closed the store you worked in.
You cannot collect unemployment insurance if you were fired because of your own misconduct. People who are self employed might be ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits. If you are in jail, then you are not allowed to collect unemployment benefits.
Those who receive benefits are required to continue to look for work. They must report how much work they get, and how much income they made from that work. This is because the unemployment department will lower the amount of money that comes on someone’s unemployment insurance benefit checks in response to the other income that he or she is making. People who intentionally try and collect unemployment insurance illegally face serious consequences.
A 47 year old man named James Martelli, from New York, filed false unemployment insurance claims. He was caught, and has now been charged with grand larceny, (which is a felony).
It seems that he was collecting unemployment insurance benefits while he had a job. This took place between May of 2008 and January of 2009. My best guess is that he neglected to inform the unemployment department in his state that he was earning an income from his job. Now, the man is officially a felon, and will be on probation for five years. He also has to pay back the money he, technically speaking, “stole”. The amount comes to $13,365.
A 51 year old woman named Robin Ballard Dekle, from Florida, is in trouble for collecting unemployment insurance benefits while she was in jail. It seems that she failed to report to the unemployment department that she was, in fact, incarcerated. For a person to qualify for benefits, the person has to be available to continue to look for work. One cannot do that while in jail.
She received unemployment benefits from September of 2009 to November of 2010. She has been charged with public assistance fraud. If found guilty, she could face five (more) years in jail. She got caught after being released from jail after it was discovered that her bank account had increased by $5,221.62 while she was incarcerated.
image by Derek Key on Flickr