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Can You Go on Vacation While Collecting Unemployment?

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on August 19, 2014 12:45 PM

Filing for government unemployment insurance benefits can be a life saver when you lose your job and need to pay bills while you look for another one. But while collecting unemployment, are you allowed to go on vacation?

In exchange for unemployment benefits, you are bound to follow certain rules regarding what you need to do -- which typically includes looking for a new job -- as well as rules about what you shouldn't do, such as failing to report any earned income other than unemployment benefits.

So what about leaving town for a little rest and relaxation? Here are some general considerations:

Claimant Must Be 'Available for Work'

Although unemployment insurance laws vary from state to state, generally speaking, in addition to looking for full-time work, a person receiving unemployment insurance benefits must be available to accept any work that is offered.

That means that unless your vacation is a "staycation" in your own backyard, you will most likely not be able to receive any unemployment benefits for the time you are out of town.

In Washington state, for example, the Employment Security Department advises: "If an individual goes on vacation and is not available for work while collecting benefits, he or she must report it when filing the weekly claim. Individuals on vacation are not considered able and available to work, and are not eligible for benefits that week."

What About Hospital Stays, Other Emergencies?

The rules about being available for work don't just apply to being out of town on vacation. They may also apply to somewhat less pleasant circumstances, such as being sick.

According to the Kansas Department of Labor, claiming unemployment benefits for the time in which you were unavailable for work for any reason, including being in the hospital, may constitute unemployment fraud.

If you have questions about applying or are facing the possible loss of unemployment benefits, an expeienced employment lawyer will know the laws in your state and can help explain your legal options. You may also want to check out FindLaw's free Guide to Unemployment Insurance for more helpful tips.

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