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Employment Law/Collecting unemployment with severance



After 35 years, my Mom is being separated from her job because they are essentially eliminating her position. She is actually employed by a hospital. The Labor Relations dept. are offering her six months severance pay, which she was told is the minimum required for someone with her tenure (35 years).

Labor Relations also told her that "we will not contest unemployment benefits" (probably as an inducement to get her to go quietly). This triggered a question for her: Can she still collect unemployment benefits even though she is getting a severance??

Also, is there any advice you could provide regarding how she should request the severance payment to be structured so that she can still collect unemployment? (for example, made as one lump payment versus spread over six months  etc.?

Finally, the job market in her field is - like in many fields - not great right now so who knows how long it could take to find another position. Do you have any sense of the maximum amount of time she would be able to collect unemployment for before it would disappear?

Thank you so much in advance, Josh

Josh - Because Unemployment Compensation (UC) is an entitlement based on taxes paid by both the employer and the employee, assets are not considered in the determination of eligibility.  If your mother receives one lump sum, she can apply for UC benefits the following week, without being told she has to wait until the money is gone.  

Each state has a different relationship with the federal extension of UC benefits based on the level of unemployment in the state.  Usually, the initial determination of eligibility is for twenty (20) weeks.  When that time is almost over, the out of work individual has to reapply for UC benefits at the same office or on line.  The second determination is for either ten or twenty weeks - again, it varies based on the state.  I'm not sure whether Virginia accepted the funds for the federal extension or not.  Your mother will be given all of the necessary information at the time of her initial application for UC benefits.  

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.


Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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