Filed for unemployment while briefly out of country

I'm a NY state resident / US citizen. I tried to claim unemployment benefits for a week during which, for 5 days, I was in the US applying for jobs; for the last two days of the week I was in Europe. It was from Europe that I tried to claim online, and my attempt was blocked. NY State sent a questionnaire about the dates of the trip, its purpose, and whether I applied for jobs while abroad, with a threat that I might be judged ineligible for benefits going forward. I failed to inform NY state that I was leaving the country, which the claimant handbook explicitly said I should do. That's my fault. I'm not going to claim for the week comprising the remainder of my 9 day absence, even though I did apply for work while abroad. Once I give the dates of my trips, will I be at risk of losing benefits for future weeks (or a worse penalty)? Or just loss of benefits for the week I was only 5 days in America?

The question of wilfulness and over-payment came up in the first (very good) answer to this question, so I'd like to elaborate:
-I have not received any benefits as of yet -- the week for which I was attempting to claim above was my "unpaid waiting week"
-I did not read the Claimant Handbook until after my claim was blocked, so I had no idea I was doing anything wrong. I am afraid that being forthright about this on the questionnaire will only dig a deeper hole, since NY State made it clear they wanted me to read the handbook before making a claim for benefits. I intended to read the handbook before claiming for actual money (not just the unpaid week), but I could understand if NY State would not look kindly on this justification.

1 answer  |  asked May 22, 2017 10:12 AM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

V Jonas Urba
It depends on whether what you did was willful? The following is directly from New York State's Department of Labor in the frequently asked questions section. This is what the site says:

"What is a monetary penalty?

A: A monetary penalty is assessed if we believe that you willfully made false statements or representations, or purposely withheld pertinent information, in order to obtain benefits.

Q: Is the monetary penalty optional?

A: No. The monetary penalty must be assessed unless it is overruled by an Administrative Law Judge, the Appeal Board, or a court.

Q: Is the monetary penalty imposed instead of a forfeit day penalty?

A: No. The monetary penalty is imposed in addition to the forfeit day penalty.

Q: Does the monetary penalty apply to all programs related to unemployment?

Yes. The monetary penalty applies to all benefits under regular Unemployment Insurance, Extended Unemployment Compensation, Extended Benefits, Combined Wage Claims, Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Members, Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees, Self-Employment Assistance Program, Trade Readjustment Allowances, and 599 Training Program. No programs related to unemployment are excluded.

Q: How is the amount of the monetary penalty calculated?

The amount of the monetary penalty is calculated based on the amount of overpaid benefits.
If the willful overpayment is $666.67 or greater, the monetary penalty is 15% of the total overpayment.
If the willful overpayment is $666.66 or less, the monetary penalty is $100."

Never misrepresent anything to New York's Department of Labor. I have seen them bend over backwards to help an honest claimant out but once they determine you were anything but they will recover the overpayment sooner or later. It may take a few years or longer but they do pursue overpayments and penalties.

posted by V Jonas Urba  |  May 22, 2017 11:04 AM [EST]

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