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Live in NJ, Went from full time, to part time, to having to leave to finish nursing school

by Lorraine
(Camden County, NJ)

I worked for a large mortgage company in NJ. A few years ago when the mortgage industry went south, my company started laying off in great numbers and adjusting our pay plans and sometimes reducing our hours. I made a decision to change careers and get into a field that is in high demand so that I would always have a position to support my family. I decided on nursing. I first started taking prereqs and working full time then in Jan 2010 I asked to have my hours reduced to 2-3 days a week so that I could start nursing school full time. They were agreeable. However, as the program progressed the required amount of time in school increased. In Sept of 2010 I went to 1 day a week. Starting this January I was at the point in my program where I am required to be in school 5 days a week so I was no longer able to give my employer enough hours to remain there. I quit on 1/14/2010. I applied for UI and received a benefits determination dated 1/21. I attended a re-employment orientation on 2/1 as requested of me by mail. I filed for my benefits for the first time as requested on 2/2. I had a phone interview on 2/4. The gentlemen who interviewed me told me he had already gone online and determined that there is a demand for nursing in NJ and to fax him my school schedule to show I am full time. He told me how to continue filing for benefits stating that since I am in school full time I would answer yes to "are you ready and able to work" since I am getting up everyday and going to school He said he had already spoken with my employer and that my information matched theirs. He said if my employer wished to appeal they could. no indication I would be denied. the following monday i received a new determination of benefits with a higher amount awarded to me dated 2/7/11. Today I received a notice of determination also dated 2/7/11 stating "you are disqualified for benefits from 1/9/11 and will continue to be disqualified until you have worked eight or more weeks in employment and have earned at least ten times your weekly benefit rate" I have no idea what this means? do you? also it stated "you left your job voluntarily to attend training or school. although attending training or school is a valid reason for leaving work, it is personal. therefore, your reason for leaving does not constitute good cause attributable to the work. you are disqualified for benefits." If this was the case

why didn't he just tell me on the phone? why even ask for my school schedule? on back of form it lists under NJ law and regulations R.S. 43:21-5 disqualfication for benefits, I don't understand what this law means, are they telling me to go back to work for 8 more weeks? Sorry for being long winded, any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Lorraine

Hi Lorraine,

If this guy told you to check the box that says you're able and available for work .. even though he knew you were going to nursing school full-time and also knew that you quit your job to attend nursing school full-time .. I'm having a hard time figuring out why he is working for the NJ unemployment department.

That is contrary to everything I know and puts you in danger of unemployment fraud .. because you are not able and available for what I believe would be every kind of work that is "suitable" work for you ..

Quitting a job .. to attend school is disqualifying .. unless you have already been approved for some kind of state approved training. This might have been what he was referring to when he said he had already looked online .. but still, I'm having a hard time making sense out of what and why he told you that.

So .. the disqualification from benefits is not surprising .. the first determination was just the monetary .. then comes the non-monetary or "merit determination" .. which examines the reason for quitting .. which I've already told you about.

The disqualification means that in order for you to be able to re-qualify for benefits .. you do have to return to work for 8 weeks AND earn a minimum of 10 times your weekly benefits amount ..

And the part that should be obvious .. but they never tell you .. then suffer a "qualifying" separation from the new work in order to requalify.

The disqualification must be served (8 weeks time) and purged (earnings equaling 10 times WBA).

You do of course, have the right to appeal this determination .. and if your nursing school was approved training by the state .. you should appeal.

Generally speaking unemployment benefits cannot be used to subsidize your living expenses while attending school unless the laws allow it ..

Come to think of it .. I suspect he told you to keep reporting that you were able and available .. in case you do appeal.

But from what you've told me .. I'd say, it was bad advice .. unless you are willing to quit nursing school to accept any suitable work that comes your way.

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