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I was collecting benefits for 3 months, found a job, worked for 5 months then fired for absences. Can I collect on my existing claim? I live in Pennsylvania.

by bob
(Pennsylvania)

I was collecting benefits for 3 months, found a job, worked for 5 months then fired for absences. Can I collect on my existing claim? I live in Pennsylvania.






Hi Bob,

It depends on whether your absences can be proven to be for willful misconduct, or not.

***Edited on 7/16/2013***

Much to my surprise, this particular question has become one of the most frequently read Q&A's out of close to four thousand, so I've decided to make better use of it .. even if I can't really answer whether Bob got benefits or not.

My answer was short, because Bob didn't provide any details to answer whether his discharge was in fact for poor attendance amounting to misconduct, but only details I knew created the potential for collecting the remaining balance of benefits anytime during the remaining four months of his existing benefit year.

As I have written about a thousand times or so, it's the merits, or lack of merits. surrounding the last separation from work that controls a claim and a person's ability to begin collecting benefits, even if the claim was established due to an earlier separation from a job already deemed to be to no fault of the employee.

For example I can assume some scenarios that might be relevant here. Talking to unemployed people tells me it is becoming more common all the time to reopen claims.

Let's assume Bob was laid off for a lack of work after 20, 30, even 35 years of employment with the same employer .. he starts collecting because a lack of work was confirmed by the employer in their claims response.

Bob looks and looks for a job similar to what he used to do, but can't find anything that pays at the same rate he needs to sustain (pay for) the life he built over the last 20, 30, 35 years.

Feeling a bit depressed and hopeless however, after three months, Bob thinks, "I just need to get back to work .. doing something, anything. and maybe it's his change in attitude during interviews, or maybe he just lucks out, but finally finds what he thinks is suitable work.

Or maybe, he repeats the same decision millions of Americans have now learned can be a trap. He accepts a job that might be something not considered suitable. "Unsuitable work" because he accepted it .. has now become suitable to him.

Regardless however of the suitability of the work, something happens to Bob during those first five months of employment that causes him to be absent from work for good cause, or bad cause.

Good cause might be that he suffers through an illness
verified by documentation created by his physician .. however, the employer's uses a point system which ignores the source or cause of an absence. The uncaring, or unreasonable employer policy doesn't help them with their need to sustain the discharge of Bob was for misconduct, because Bob made them aware of the cause for his absences and he can prove the cause with his medical documentation he will submit copies of to the UI dept during the claims investigation.

But let's take a look at a bad cause scenario.

Might be that Bob, had become so depressed he started drinking and hangovers prompted him to call off.. or maybe the financial struggle and his depression caused his wife to leave him and he completely lost it and failed to show up for three days in a row and was found by his employer passed out in his backyard when the employer came to pick up the company vehicle and equipment they owned. Employer's often mistake this as a discharge when in fact, it is a voluntary quit by job abandonment. No call / No shows for two .. sometimes three day (depends on the state) are quits without good cause .. unless you can prove good cause for not calling off.

But, to the point of Bob's question. Anyone becoming totally, or partially unemployed during an active claim year with weeks left and sufficient time to collect before the BYE (benefit year end date), can reopen an existing existing claim But my point is to collect benefits that remain, understand it is still contingent upon the merits of the most recent separation from work. That is what always controls the claim going forward. A new non-monetary (merit) determination will be issued on the most recent sep .. at some point.

At what point though is one of the bones of contention I have with some states. Depending on provisions in UI law regarding when an employer has to respond, some states do not require employers to respond with a claims protest until they become a chargeable employer. This means a new claim would have to be established with a new base year.

But when that most recent employer finally protests, many extension benefit recipients are knocked over by the next step .. and overpayment determination dating back to when they started collecting due to the last separation from work.

Unfortunately some claimants have received a notice that well over 20,000 dollars in wrongfully paid benefits are due back.

of course you need to appeal any determination you do not agree with .. including that one you believe is erroneous about you being guilty of work related misconduct.


Chris


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