Common Mistakes When Receiving Unemployment Insurance
Unemployment Insurance (UI) provides temporary financial assistance to qualified individuals who meet state eligibility requirements. Everyone who collects UI benefits is legally responsible for following the rules set by New Mexico state law. Navigating the UI system can be confusing, but if you understand the most common mistakes, you may be able to avoid problems and ensure your continued eligibility for current and future UI benefits.
Common mistakes include:
Consequences of committing UI fraud:
- Not reporting income from part-time or temporary work while looking for a full-time job
You must accurately report all earnings during your weekly claim certification – even those from part-time or temporary work. Be sure to report your gross wages (before taxes are taken out) for each week that you work and certify for benefits -even if you don't get paid until later- and regardless of whether you are paid in cash or by check. If you collect more UI benefits than you are entitled to because of your failure to report earnings, you may be committing fraud. This has serious consequences including prosecution and a requirement that you pay back any benefits you improperly received.
- Waiting until you receive your first paycheck before notifying the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions that you have returned to work
As soon as you begin working, stop certifying and contact the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to see if you are eligible to collect partial benefits. Do not wait until you receive your first paycheck to report your return to work. The Department of Workforce Solutions uses state and national resources to track new hires, so it is in your best interest to report your return to work immediately to avoid the consequences of an overpayment.
- Believing that UI benefits are "yours" and that you paid for them while you were working
UI benefits are financed by state payroll taxes paid by employers. Employers are charged when claimants are determined to be eligible for UI benefits. That is why it is so important that benefit payments are accurately calculated and individuals receive only the benefits to which they are entitled.
- Not actively searching for work
You must actively look for work each week that you file a claim for benefits. If you do not search for work during a week in which you file a claim, benefits may be denied until you show that you have started to look for work.
- Not being available to accept a new job
In order to collect benefits, you must continually verify that you are able, available, and willing to accept suitable work. Report any possible conflicts like attending school during work hours or problems with child care or transportation that could limit your work availability and impact your eligibility for benefits. If you have a question, visit our website at www.dws.state.nm.us or call 1-877-664-6984.
If you knowingly break the law, you could be found guilty of committing UI fraud, which may lead to serious consequences, including:
- Prosecution by government authorities
- Possible jail or prison sentences
- Liens placed on property
- Forced repayment of improperly collected UI benefits – plus penalties and fines
- Garnished wages
- Forfeiture of future income tax refunds
- Ineligibility to collect UI benefits in the future