Starting a part-time, contract or freelance gig while receiving unemployment benefits can have a significant impact on your weekly benefit payments due to its large effect on two very influential aspects of your eligibility:
You are required to report all income earned in your weekly benefit claim. The amount is used to calculate a prorated weekly benefit payment. In some cases, the income from these jobs may be high enough to disqualify you from payment altogether.
Available to work
Another condition of receiving unemployment benefits is being available to work. If a part- or short-term project interferes with your ability to accept a job offer, your benefits may be stopped since you are no longer meeting the availability requirement.
The impact of taking on a part- or short-term job varies by state. New York, for example, will reduce your benefit payment by 25 percent for every day you’ve work an hour or more. You should research the rules imposed in your state before deciding if taking this type of job is right for you.
It is important to know that any wages earned can also affect your benefit amount the next year. The current wages you earn become part of the base period used to calculate benefits should you need them in the future. If you begin part-time work at half your salary, you may receive significantly lower payments should your need to use unemployment benefits in the near future.
Though it might be tempting to fudge your actual income, it is never a good idea to do so. Misreporting income on your weekly claim is easily discovered if your employer files income taxes. When a discrepancy is found, benefit checks can be stopped without warning. Purposely providing false information is considered fraud. Making a small mistake in reporting can be reversed, but it can take weeks or even months to restore benefits. Filing detailed, accurate claims is the best way to ensure you receive the benefits you are owed.