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Part-Time Online MA degree and Unemployment Benefits?

by Kay
(Los Angeles, CA)

Part-Time Online MA degree and Unemployment Benefits?

In a couple weeks I will begin a part-time, online degree which will not interfere with my ability to look for or take a job.

I'm wondering if I should check off the "Did you begin attending any kind of school or training" box for fear that it will imply that I am doing something to interfere with my current unemployed status.

I will be receiving gov't financial aid though, and I'm afraid something might get red-flagged with that if I don't "fess up" to starting an online degree, even though it won't change a single thing for me. I don't trust the way EDD interprets things and I'm wondering if this would really be "fraudulent" not to let them know what I do in my spare time.

Hi Kay,

I'd like to thank you for raising this issue .. It is precisely the scenario I worry about when it comes to unemployment and online degrees or any kind of college or training programs.

By the way, I wouldn't trust the EDD or any department either .. I'll provide some links at the bottom which relate to what you need to know.

The problem, as I see it in California, isn't that you couldn't eventually work this out even if an appeal is necessary, but because people that have written to me have said that "checking the box" caused the EDD to suspend benefits pending investigation of their ability and availability for "suitable work" .. and then receive a letter which schedules the "phone interview" to investigate, six weeks down the road .. until they get the determination to appeal to a hearing level.

All the while, they remain benefitless. That is what is ridiculous and contrary to the intent of unemployment
and in my opinion .. possibly some precedent decision.

I believe you should be concerned about a red flag because the financing is coming from the government. I can't cite a source, but I believe fraud detection units can access multiple databases to cross reference a person's truthfulness of answers on those innocuous looking claim forms.

When you certify a continuing claim you are doing so under penalties of perjury .. at least you are if you live in my state .. which is three states west of yours.

This is why, instead of using the cross your fingers technique .. I suggest trying to circumvent the problem by contacting the EDD to notify them prior to that claim form ask them if they are noting your claim .. get their name, their ext # or email.

California should only deny benefits if you show that you are not able and available and possibly, conducting any required job search (required job searches vary greatly by state and is usually contained in the claimant handbook you received).

So, with this in mind consider what California tells it's unemployed citizens about attending school while collecting benefits.

Attendance at School or Training in General

What is Suitable Work

And for good measure see MI 35, MI 45 and MI 85

Here's what I think.

There is no reason a sharp individual choosing to go to school should not be able to retain their unemployment benefits in California.

The real trick is just knowing there are things you need to be aware of to avoid possible problems.

Some may call this pro-active behavior .. I call it preemptive behavior which always seems to be easier for those with a slight case of paranoia or compulsive tendencies:)

Let me know if you have anymore questions.


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