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Imagine that I live and work in Massachusetts. I am being laid off by the end of the year. I already have a new job but it won't start until a few months after the end of my current employment. I know that collecting unemployment benefits requires me to be "able, available, and actively seeking work" (see here). Does this mean that I am no longer eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

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    Are you going to look for short-term work for the time in between? – Nate Eldredge Nov 20 '18 at 17:08
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    @NateEldredge I hadn't planned on it, no – user21872 Nov 20 '18 at 18:34
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The MA page on eligibility for unemployment and the linked page on weekly benefits both say that one must be

Actively looking for work (3 work search attempts made on 3 separate days)

New Jersey, where I twice applied for and received unemployment benefits, has an almost exactly similar rule. I can tell you that in NJ, an applicant must be able to provide the names and addresses or telephone numbers (or other contact info, such as email addresses) of at least three potential employers who s/he approached in some way each and every week that s/he claim benefits, even after the applicant had already has a contingent offer of employment with a start date. If the applicant does not certify three attempts to look for work on the weekly application, no benefits are authorized that week. If the applicant does certify but cannot provide the names on request, that is considered a false application, and incurs a penalty, over and above denial of benefits.

An "approach" can include sending out a resume, answering an ad, going to a job fair, or telephoning a possible employer, or other methods of contact. It is a good idea to maintain a log of all your contacts, because if the state decides to review your case (which they can do for any of several reasons) they may ask you to provide your contacts for any or all of the weeks you claimed benefits.

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Generally, most unemployment benefits programs require you to be actively seeking work. If you aren't planning on continuing your job search, then no, you would not be eligible. For MA it appears to be a two step process, applying for unemployment benefits and then requesting weekly payments. While you may be eligible to apply, you would then fail the weekly request because you did not seek employment. See the state's relevant website here.

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  • Thanks. Can you please provide a source for your answer? – user21872 Nov 20 '18 at 18:33
  • You can check MA's eligibility requirements on their website: mass.gov/service-details/… – pboss3010 Nov 20 '18 at 19:13
  • Thanks. I would upvote your comment but don't have the reputation to do so. – user21872 Nov 21 '18 at 16:50
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Having a job lined up doesn't need to stop someone from looking for work in the interim. Although I doubt it's actually necessary, continuing to blast out applications in the in-between period should be enough to protect those benefits.

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    I don't know what's necessary for the letter of the law, but the spirit would suggest that you ought to send carefully prepared applications in good faith, to jobs for which you are qualified, attend interviews if you get them, and take a job if it's offered. – Nate Eldredge Nov 20 '18 at 19:23
  • Interesting -- my take would be that the spirit requires less. The benefits are meant to provide some income in the period between one job and the next, not to prevent every hour in the interim from going unworked. Assuming the applicant has found suitable permanent employment that begins within a reasonable amount of time, I'd be surprised if the administrators expected him to continue hunting for a different job to fill that gap. – bdb484 Nov 20 '18 at 21:10
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    @NateEldredge "and take a job if it's offered" could be the sticking point if the person has already accepted another offer of employment. – phoog Nov 21 '18 at 18:03
  • Interesting debate. Presumably if you find and accept a job during your unemployment-insurance-sponsored job hunt that starts in 2 weeks you will still receive benefits for those 2 weeks as such a short time period can be considered normal "friction" that is included within the spirit of unemployment insurance. However, if you are consciously "holding out" for your dream job that starts several months later, then it's less clear that your community (in the form of unemployment insurance) should be on the hook for that. – user21872 Nov 21 '18 at 18:14
  • @ bdb484 be surprised, they expect exactly that, and some of the officials seem to have the attitude that most applicants are probably cheats until proved otherwise. They wilt insist on compliance with the letter of the rules. , user21872 it is often possible to neither refuse nor accept a job offer ("I've got to consider that") for a short period. You cannot count on an examiner caring about the 'spirit" or "purpose" of the program. Some will, many will not, speaking from experience. – David Siegel Nov 21 '18 at 18:35

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