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Can I get unemployment back if I quit a job it took while collecting unemployment and it's not working out?

by Drew Snyder
(Richmond, Va)

I was unemployed and collected unemployment (in Virginia) for a few weeks when i got laid off from my job. I then took a job making straight commission and immediately stopped collecting unemployment. It has been 5 months and with this economy i have yet to close one deal resulting in 0 income for the last 4 months. I was wondering if i decided to quit if i could collect unemployment and also is there anyway to collect unemployment until i got paid with the new job i took? Was I wrong to cancel the unemployment immediately? I have no idea what these answers are and would love to know. Thanks

Hi Drew,

This seems to be a problem for a lot of people .. I mean straight commission jobs and basically the many and varied reasons you might lose benefits once you been approved for benefits.

I could probably write for days on the subject if I were to try to cover every conceivable situation that might endanger benefits.

Every individual that asks me a question needs to know that their question begs me to ask my own questions about their specific situation ..

So why don't I just begin.

1. Is sales your usual occupation?

2. Do you work at least 40 hours a week at this non-paying job?

3. Did you actually "cancel the claim" or just stop filing for weekly benefits?

4. Did the employer promise a "minimum earning"?

5. Are you an employee or are you considered self-employed by this employer? (What kind of tax forms did you fill out?)


What every unemployment claimant needs to understand about collecting is that you must be at least "partially unemployed to collect". This means if you take a job that isn't full-time, but it still pays less than your WBA .. you may be able to still collect partial unemployment benefits ( requirements for Partial Unemployment vary widely from state to state)!!

If you have been working for 40 hours a week, trying to close a sale .. you were not
able and available for any other work .. therefore, not unemployed any longer, but if you didn't cancel the claim .. it still exists and can be "reopened" anytime before the end of your "benefit year" in most states .. even if you quit voluntarily because the "new job" wasn't ...


Every state, somewhere in their statutes references what suitable work is .. and folks, this is something you MUST pay attention to. For the sake of brevity (which apparently is a word I don't know the definition of) Please, let me refer you to the USDOL Information (Click the current year, then Nonmonetary. Use the search function and type in "suitable")

What is suitable work also varies widely from state to state. And what is suitable can change through use of provisions .. especially with regard to the length of time one is unemployed and to how much a job pays ..Maine and Georgia comes to mind. I should note that not all provision are unfavorable to the claimant.

The usual issue for someone who wants to start collecting again after taking a subsequent job, but decided it was a big mistake .. is they now have to prove they voluntarily quit that job with good cause and that cause might be found in the statute pertaining to "suitable work".

So, if you were a mechanic and you took a sales job .. you might think .. done deal, the work wasn't suitable, BUT there's always a but.

The state may wonder why it took you 5 months to quit the job because waiting to long can appear as an "acceptance" of the conditions of that employment .. therefore, without good cause attributable to the employment.

This is why, when it comes to taking a job while collecting unemployment, one should be very, very careful.

Investigate your state and prepare before you take the plunge to quit .. better still, before you accept a job. This is where precedent decisions would come in handy.

Virginia does offer it's resident the ability to research unemployment issues.

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Nov 20, 2009
A couple thoughts
by: Anonymous

I think your big mistake was ending UI benefits too soon. I guess it's probably different in every state, but in Colorado, where I live, when you file for benefits on the bi-weekly basis, the questions always include, "Did you work during the week of..." And then if yes, they ask you to put down how many hours and how much you made. I would have continued filing if I were you, because under the circumstances I describe, UI would automatically, based on your responses, deduct any money from your benefits. Yet, your claim would still be open.

That being said, I think your only option now is to call and ask your local office what your options are. I suspect that they might be able to reopen your claim, based upon the fact that you're not making any money! I was unemployed once, got a job that lasted a couple months, and then laid off from there, too. I called up and explained to UI, and they were very understanding and reopened my claim. Good luck!!

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