Eligibility limits on unemployment benefits

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you get unemployment benefits, and make yourself 'unavailable' to work 7-days or more, your checks will stop. Craig Butterworth says he found out by surprise. He called the V.E.C. and then he called 12 for help, with faster results.

That eligibility requirement snags many people but the V.E.C. says it works hard to let everyone know upfront. People receiving unemployment benefits, cannot take a vacation, attend a funeral or an emergency out of state, "if" it takes them off the job market for a week, you won't get paid.

Craig Butterworth is among the hardcore unemployed. Laid off from the F.B.I. Internet Crime Complaint Center he's collected benefits more than a year.

"I have a family to provide for and this situation has made that impossible. I haven't been able to put food on the table. It's that bad," he said.

He gets a meager amount from part time work. Most of the time, he's networking for interviews, job leads and actively looking for work. So, when his brother blessed his family with a July, all expense paid vacation, Craig accepted.

"I returned from that week of vacation my family so thoroughly deserved and that following Wednesday the check didn't show up," Craig said.

He called the Virginia Employment Commission and says they were clueless about his money interruption. Almost four weeks later, he got an explanation.

"I went 7 days without reporting any income from my part time job. Therefore, they assumed, didn't bother to check with me, that I was separated from my employer and thus I was no longer entitled to receive benefits," Craig explained.

The V.E.C. says it has no interest in denying benefits. Family hardship is already an adverse consequence of unemployment. It's one of many hard to digest requirements, and you can find them all in three different places on the V.E.C. website. You must be able, available and actively looking for work. It's also mailed to applicants, as part of a benefits package, says the unemployment insurance director.

"My part time employer has to reach out to the VEC to verify employment. They've got to dot their I's and cross their T's and at some point I may or may not get relief this week," said Craig.

I checked. Craig Butterworth got his check Wednesday. It was a fraction of what he normally gets, but V.E.C says it won't take money from the overall balance. He will get all the money he's entitled to. You can call, 1-866-832-2363, if you're having trouble collecting unemployment benefits.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.