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Natalie Dee
nataliedee.com

My first unemployment insurance check came in the mail this week. I am officially on welfare…..and it’s not that exciting (especially when you look at the number on the check).

To do some quick math, I was laid off on May 15th and I filed for unemployment on May 22nd (my last day at work). I filled out that form to show that I am actively looking for work for the first two weeks and mailed it back on June 8th. I got my first check on June 14th for only one week’s worth of job hunting. Apparently, the first week is a filing period and does not count as a pay period. So exactly one month of on-going paper work to the State of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), I am officially in the system.

What this means is that if you were living paycheck-to-paycheck before you were laid off, you are royally screwed.

And by the way, that paycheck was no where near the maximum $450 that you could possibly receive (this amount is determined by how much you made at the company that you were with the longest in the past 18 months).

PR Notes: I bring this up because a rather misleading “idea” has been spread by word of mouth either by people’s own ignorance about the system or their hope to provide you with a false sense of security. I was told that I could sign up for unemployment insurance before I was no longer with the company so that I could start receiving the checks right away. Some people have suggested that it is better to be laid off so that you could collect your unemployment insurance.

This was just bad advice. A paycheck is much better than an unemployment check. (Unless, of course, that paycheck is worth less than the unemployment check. In that case, you need to find a better paying job.)

Here’s the truth……

  1. You may only sign up for unemployment insurance when you are no longer working.
  2. You will not receive your unemployment check until you have filled out the “continued claim” to show that you are working. You should note that you can not turn this in until after your first two weeks of unemployment. You should also note that you’ll be filling this form out ever two weeks until you (A) get a job or (B) run out of time and are no longer eligible.
  3. You will not receive a check for the first week of unemployment because this is a filing period.
My personal recommendation is that EDD needs a proper PR campaign to educate HR managers and employers about the unemployment system. ‘Cause there is some bad information being circulated to shattered people who have just had the rug pulled out from under them. It’s just not right. But I doubt that this department actually has the funds to support such a campaign. All of their funds are probably being directed to processing unemployment claims and mailing checks to the unemployed, like myself.

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