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Really, I Can only Collect Six Months of Unemployment Benefits?

by Casey Mbs
(Bakersfield California)

How California has decided how many unemployed are at fault from 2006 through 2015

How California has decided how many unemployed are at fault from 2006 through 2015

I was laid off from my oilfield job in August 2015. I've worked 25 years of my life. I've only had two jobs. My first as a mechanic in Yosemite National park for 20yrs and my oilfield job in Taft/Bakersfield for 5yrs.

I've only collected benefits twice in my working life - FMLA for our kids births.

Long story short. My claim papers say my claim is valid until August 2016 yet I just received a UI check for half of what I should have received. I called and they told me my benefits are done!

Unemployment tells me I'm only allowed 6 months of benefits. They never told me this until I called to ask about my check. What if anything can I do?

My boss tells me that he can't bring me back until the price of oil rebounds. I'm looking for work but, as of yet, I'm still unemployed.

Unemployment said, they don't give extensions any longer. I know people (relative's) who sit on their butts for years at a time collecting all kinds of checks including but not limited to food stamps, Cash assistance, rent assistance, unemployment etc..etc..I don't want all that stuff. I just need to be able to keep receiving my biweekly ui benefits until I find another job or I'm called back to the employer I'm on lay-off status from. I'm gonna be homeless. I'm going to lose my apartment. My car to look for and show up to work with. I don't qualify for medi cal, food stamps... Nothing!! I've been told.

My ex wife who didn't at first believe me was told the same. My mom who called to verify was told, I DO NOT QUALIFY FOR MEDI CAL FOOD STAMPS... NOTHING!

And now my unemployment is over?

25 years doing "the right things" and all I get is 6 months?

But, If I were a "lame" and had a job for a month or two here and there I'd get and have any and everything I needed or wanted!!?

What if anything can I do? Help!!!! Thank You for your consideration in this matter. Sincerely Casey M.

Chris's Reply

Unfortunately, the news you did collect six months of benefits could be good, if you're willing to change your perspective.

Although a benefit year is a year long, I'm fairly certain the claimant handbook for any state explains the maximum duration of weekly benefits for those claiming in each week they are totally unemployed ends at 26.

Here's the California EDD claimant handbook. (see pages 4 and 5.)

That you're surprised, likely means you didn't read a handbook usually sent shortly after you file a claim.

Too bad for some, because it's includes a lot of basic information that can keep people out of unemployment fraud hot water .. as well as inform them they have six short months (26 weeks) at most to their own show on the road again.

Twenty-six weeks .. at max, is how I knew unemployment insurance benefits, being designed to work in any state .. up until the great recession.

But that is when millions of people just like you (hard working with no interest in collecting unemployment if they could work instead) could barely find jobs after they lost their jobs through no fault of their own .. suitable, or otherwise, to apply for.

So, being reasonable people, many understood they had no choice, but to go for the "dreaded" unemployment benefits and all the "lame" assumptions that go along with just accepting benefits as meaning .. someone isn't really looking for a job.

I'm not saying you
don't have "lame" family and friends, I just saying getting benefits when you quit for good cause, or get fired for something other than work related misconduct isn't the easiest thing in the world to do .. even if you're like me, immersed in how it really works on a day to day basis so deeply .. it begins to make you sick to be a part of it.

As far as those long term benefits that are a thing of the past, it was congress who kept reauthorizing UNPRECEDENTED long term unemployment benefits and adding tiers on tiers of potential benefit extensions in the states where the unemployment rate fit with the formula to authorize .. at least up until the end of 2013. Some would have you believe that alone is why the rate dropped .. because unemployed deadbeats now had no option, but to go find a job.

Excuse me, but that is simple-minded .. and in my opinion, lame political rhetoric begging out for a bar of soap.

However, it was at that time they stop reauthorizing extensions all those still unemployed people who had been collecting inordinate number of weeks of benefits started dropping, like flies from the adjusted unemployment rate which is in fact a figure used to trigger emergency federal extension mathematical formulas.

In fact, the loss of extension benefits pretty much made the adjusted (net unemployment rate) drop like a rock .. to prevent the formula from being re-triggered over and over for tier after tier..

By all reports, it is when the possibility of long term benefits disappeared employers miraculously began to find, or create jobs.

A hard fact is the recession didn't just hurt unemployed people, it hurt many of the primary employers in this country. It's many small businesses in this country who still pay unemployment taxes, and it's often not a pretty picture when the tax rate they pay on employees wages is based upon their "experience rating" for employees they had to layoff

I know you probably don't want to hear me say you have more reason as someone who lives in California, some other's in the same boat as you, to consider yourself one of the lucky ones who did receive 26 weeks (the typical duration of regular unemployment benefits), or because California is one of few states that at least offer a state program that allows an FMLA, or personal medical leave.

Fact is the only help I have for you is that claimant handbook. Which is better than those who read their state's UI claimant handbook only to find out they live in one of the states that reacted to it's unemployment fund insolvency problem caused by a massive recession by reducing the maximum duration of unemployment benefits, some far below the typical 26 weeks I became accustomed to, or you were allowed to collect.

Of course there may be little point in doing so, but I included a chart about California unemployment benefits, that might explain to some, there's more than one way for a state to regain unemployment solvency, than just shortening maximum duration of benefits .. even if the state still taxes employers for the wage base built on the whole 26 weeks.

I even read somewhere the other day there are states that have decided to it okay to force self employed people .. with no employees to pay an unemployment tax.

And the antiquated 1935 Jalopy .. or the FUTA (Federal Unemployment Insurance Tax Act) just keeps chitty-chitty-bang-banging along these days to keep ten percent more .. away from benefits than it did pre-recession.

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