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Can I Take Classes While Collecting Unemployment?

While unemployed, it may be hard to keep yourself productive. One of the things you can do to help you prepare for finding a new job is take some classes. The only concern is whether your classes interfere with your availability to work. If they do, you may not be eligible for unemployment, or your state might reduce your benefits. Each time you file your weekly or biweekly claim, you have to report your availability for the period in question. If you don't, your state's department of labor can penalize you.

Education While Unemployed

Taking classes while you're looking for a new job is a great way to spend your unemployed time. While working full time, you usually don't have the time to take classes or complete an educational degree. Depending on the class subjects, you can add value to yourself as an employee. Most state labor departments also offer free workforce enrichment classes to help you develop new skills, such as typing or computer software classes, while looking for employment.

Are You Available to Work?

The biggest concern if you're unemployed and taking classes is whether you're available for full-time work. Most state unemployment programs require that you be eligible for full-time work to collect benefits. The reason is that if your classes or other commitments prevent you from working full time, you probably can't find a new job. The spirit of the unemployment program is to provide temporary relief while you're looking for full-time work. Otherwise, you don't qualify.

How to Report Availability

To receive an unemployment payment, you have to file a weekly or biweekly claim. You either call into the teleclaims system or log into the state labor department's website. You answer a few questions about your eligibility for the period in question, including your availability. If a class interfered with your availability to work, you have to report that you weren't available during that time. Base on the information you provide, the state labor office determines whether you were eligible for unemployment on that day. In most states, they'll deduct that day from your benefits for that time period.

Failure to Report Availability

If your classes made you unavailable to work on certain day and you fail to report it, you are committing unemployment insurance fraud. You'll be forced to repay any benefits you received but weren't eligible for. In some states, intentionally not reporting your availability can earn you the penalty of weeks of unemployment where you won't receive benefits. In extreme cases, you may be criminally prosecuted and sentenced to fines or jail time.



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