Unemployment benefits for the Realtor?
May 11, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

What happens to my Illinois Unemployment benefits once I get my first commission as a Realtor? Am I SOL?

I have been collecting unemployment benefits for about a month now. In that time I have been "working" as an independent contractor as a Realtor for a small Realty a friend runs.

In about a week my first sale will close. Once I get my commission I assume I should report that as wages with the IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security).

Once I get this money, anytime you report wages, IDES ends your unemployment.

If I am "employed" but not an employee, when I file again, how do I describe my lack of work, I wasn't laid off from a non-paid commission based job, I'm just not making money.

Commissions will probably be occasional, so I am in trouble if I can't in the short term continue to collect unemployment, but I don't want to do anything fraudulent. I've tried to contact IDES but no one EVER EVER answers the phone or responds and I've found little beyond conjecture online to answer this question.

If I don't report it, I am committing fraud, which I don't want to do of course. If I do, I fear I'm going to preclude myself from filing further claims for unemployment.

What do independent sales people, particularly those starting out, do in these circumstances.

Any wisdom you can offer would be much appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure that here in VA, the fact that you are actively working as a Realtor counts as working, because the determining factor is whether or not you are looking for work. If you are working as a Realtor, presumably you are not out interviewing. That you haven't sold anything yet is not relevant. So it's possible you have been claiming benefits improperly for a while now. But I'm not a labor attorney, nor am I in IL.
posted by COD at 9:03 AM on May 11, 2011

I have no idea if the system is similar in Illinois, but here in Virginia your unemployment isn't completely stopped if you earn any money, you just don't get a payment for the week you report it. Of course the amounts I was earning were from a few hours here and there doing maintenance work, so I don't know what a larger payment would do.

On preview, woo VA!
posted by brilliantine at 9:05 AM on May 11, 2011

I've tried to contact IDES but no one EVER EVER answers the phone or responds

I just tried calling IDES at 888-367-4382, chose the option for the number of the regional office based on zip code, entered a zip code that I know in IL (I don't currently live in the state), was given the number for the regional office, dialed that number and after about a minute of recorded "go here if you want this" message, selected option "2" for a general questions and a person answered the phone on the 2nd ring.
posted by de void at 9:08 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

In Ohio I had a simliar situation occur. I was getting occasional work as a substitute teacher instead of fulltime work in my normal field.

On the weeks that I worked as a sub and got paid I reported that total amount of income for that week. If that total income was less than the amount I was supposed to get paid from unemployment then umemployment paid the difference. For example if I was getting $250 from unemployment and I made $180 subbing then unemployment would pay me $70.

If I made more than $250 in a given week subbing then my unemployment was automatically put on hold by the reporting system. The following week if I was back to subbing a little or even not subbing at all then you would submit your unemployment request, it would ask why you need to re-activate, you would say something to the effect of "no work" or "not enough work" and then it you would be back to getting money from unemployment again. I know it may sound like a PITA but it was not. Everything was done online.

The nice thing about this is the pool of money that is assigned to you lasts much longer. If you are allowed to get $8000 from your state's unemployment fund and were steadily only taking out $100 every week as opposed to the full $250 every week then your unemployment pool would last 80 weeks instead of 32 weeks.

I don't know if your state is the same but I can't imagine it would be that much different.
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:33 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Similar results in Oregon to those reported above for Ohio and VA: income doesn't bump you out of the system, it just reduces or eliminates your benefits. In Oregon, as I recall, it wasn't a one-to-one dollar amount, but some cryptic ratio.

Since your pay sounds like it is conditional upon whether a sale closes, one hopes that there's a category you can fit into where you only have to claim income for weeks when you actually receive it?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:50 AM on May 11, 2011

I was on IL unemployment about 7 months ago and it worked just as above..if you earned less than you were receiving, unemployment made up the difference. If you earned more, unemployment was put on hold, but you had to get more for 3 weeks straight before that happened, if you still filed your reports in a timely manner.

Also, if you can, IL unemployment offices are typically MUCH, MUCH less busy and friendlier in person than on the phone.

Not sure how being a realtor is treated though....I was earning money as a grad student and a substitute teacher.
posted by eleanna at 3:16 PM on May 11, 2011

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