Unemployment Insurance: Good or Bad? Evil or Not?

August 12th, 2009

Last week I wrote about a guy who is on Unemployment Insurance (UI) and shared 10 things to do while on UI.  Some of the comments in my post critiqued my logic/post, so I want to make my feelings clear on UI.

I still think the original post with 10 ideas (which are (1) build a business, (2) travel, (3) have more sex, (4) exercise, (5) spend more time with family or friends, (6) eat healthy, (7) cook at home, (8) read more, (9) try a new hobby, and (10) relax) had a bad message.  See my original post for what I think the message was.  Funny, the suggestions aren’t bad… if I were to edit that post I’d suggest rewriting the intro and making it less of “I’m on UI now, so I can have more sex” to “finding a job is frustrating, and isn’t going to happen overnight… I am collecting  UI and working hard to get back on my feet financially.  I’m going to share 10 things that I’ve filled my spare time with…”

Regardless, my post may have came across as brash and critical of anyone on UI.  That is not the case, and I apologize for any misunderstanding.  I do not think UI is “the dole,” but the message from quoted post seemed to associate the two.

When I lost my job I was advised to get on UI as soon as possible.  I didn’t think I’d need it because I had gotten a 6 week severance which meant I wouldn’t get any UI for 6 weeks after termination.  My plan was to be employed by the end of that six weeks!

But I applied anyway.

By the time I was qualified to draw from UI I was down on my luck and probably depressed.  It would be a long road before I pulled out of it.  UI was… awesome.  It was necessary.  It was a significant reason why we didn’t lose our house, car, etc.

UI didn’t make me rich… it was about 20-25% of my normal income.  UI is taxable.  I only qualified for UI if I met certain conditions (and reported on them) each week.  Each state is different in the requirements but it seems that reporting is a weekly requirement.

Should you be ashamed to be on UI? No.  I was, but I got over it. I was eternally grateful there was a system in place that could serve as a financial safety net.

John made an interesting comment:

Perhaps one could say the same thing about that older busisness associate of yours who retired on Social Security; they are living on the “dole” also. Maybe we should get rid of Social Security and give the money to those well-qualified executives on Wall Street who have really worked hard out on the golf course, do you suppose??

I don’t associate UI and SS as the same thing, with the same purpose.  UI, in my mind, is to help you get by while you get back on your feet.  It is a temporary solution not designed to make your life comfortable, but to help with necessities (not wantaties).

You pay into both UI and SS in order to get it (Barry notes that he doesn’t qualify because his employer didn’t pay into it).  The idea behind SS is not to serve as a temporary solution, and the amount you get out depends on the amount you put in – quite different than UI.

Lawgirl says “I would choose to go to work everyday, but in the meantime, yes I am enjoying the mental, physical, and emotional break.” I don’t disagree with you at all, and being on UI does not make you a bad person.

I really like what RecruiterGirl wrote:

I don’t love being on unemployment either. Lots of misconceptions about UI (unemployment insurance). So Joshua is “living quite comfortably” on UI. Unlikely. But he is doing a good job of making a mockery of the system and in the meantime anonymously making himself and possibly his generation look bad.

My original post was not to bash UI, or those who are on UI.  If it came across wrong, sorry.  I am glad UI is there, and that it helps save people from financial ruin.

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3 Responses to “Unemployment Insurance: Good or Bad? Evil or Not?”

  1. Lawgirl says:

    As you know, we’re good. :-)

  2. Tom York says:

    Hi Jason,

    The one think that SS and UI have most in common is that they are definitely not a DOLE. They are the result of a situation for which we have insured ourselves. If you have a car accident, do you feel guilty for filing a claim with your auto insurance? If you have a fire in your home, do you feel it is an unwaranted gift to have it rebuilt with insurance claims? Probably not, because you paid for the insurance that is now assisting your situation.

    We have all paid for the insurance that we call unemployment, through mandated employee benefits, and likewise, we have all paid for the retirement benefits of SS.

    In reality, the limitations on both systems suggest that we will never fully reap what was sown.

    … And yes, as you stated in your blog … I am glad it was there.

    Tom

  3. Kathy says:

    Jason,

    My daughter was recently unemployed for four months, and her husband’s monthly income was significantly reduced to he was very under-employed. Not only did UI help them avoid homelessness, but also county and state services, along with charities and what help we were able to give, helped them survive and feed their children, until my daughter finally found work. It was a nightmare for all of us until all the pieces fell into place…literally at the “eleventh hour.”

    My husband has gone through 6 layoffs in our 40 years of marriage, and I have had my “fair share” as well.

    So, I don’t see why anyone would judge another who receives public assistance, UI, charity, SS or any other form of help. NO ONE’S LIFE IS IMMUNE from unforeseen financial or any other types of disasters.

    I’m just sorry you even have to explain yourself about this.

    Best,

    ~Kathy

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