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Suggestions for unemployment

Posted: April 9, 2010 11:04 p.m.
Updated: April 10, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Due to economic issues related to the recession, my former employer reduced my work week and salary by 40 percent.

Between March 1, 2008, to Sept. 1, 2009, the company laid off 62 percent of its staff.

In light of the ongoing problems with the economy and the inevitable layoff I would have faced, I left for another company - that, unfortunately, was in worse shape.

Since the end of January, I have been unemployed. Even with 20 years of experience as a financial controller and an MBA in technology, I am still having great difficulty finding a job.

My unemployment insurance pays $450 weekly, which is hardly enough to meet my family's financial obligations. I have had to exhaust my savings account and am now taking distributions from an IRA savings account to supplement my unemployment benefit.

Two issues have come to mind that I think would be helpful.

First, because of my age - 56 - I will be severely taxed and penalized for the early IRA distributions. Since the government has and will continue to provide assistance to people who made bad choices regarding home mortgages, among other things, how about some help for people who made the right choices? People who purchased homes they could afford and saved money for emergencies and retirement.

My request is for legislation that excludes IRA and 401(k) distributions from taxes or penalties during a period when you are unemployed.

Second, it is counter-productive to penalize folks who try to earn additional money part-time when they are unemployed. Let's say when I worked full-time I made $6,000 a month after taxes. As I stated above, my unemployment benefit is $450 weekly, or $1,800 monthly.
Obviously, I can't meet my obligations with unemployment alone. However, the rules state any money I earn while collecting unemployment is deducted from my benefit, meaning I can't make more than the $450 weekly.

It would make much more sense if I were limited to earning the difference between my benefit and what I earned when working. So, I should be able to earn $6,000 less $1,800, or $4,200 before losing unemployment benefits.

There is never discussion of the help that can be offered to people who are responsible when Washington talks about "stimulus" or "TARP" or any of the other programs to assist folks during this economic disaster.

Those who plan ahead and try to meet their obligations are forgotten. It's time to start remembering us.


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