Question: A few months ago I was laid off, and started collecting unemployment benefits. A week ago, I decided it was a good time to sell some of my stocks, on which I made some money and lost some money. Would this affect my eligibility for unemployment benefits?

Charles
Riverside, California

Answer: No. Your limited investment activities would not disqualify you from receipt of unemployment benefits. Though I am not admitted to practice law in California, I write that with confidence.

As a general rule, unemployment benefits are given to those who are not working, but are available to, and are seeking, employment. Employment is the sale of your time and services to another person or company.

Your decision to sell a stock you own, or to buy a stock you don’t own, would not be considered employment. So, you would continue to be considered unemployed. The one possible exception I see is if you decided to become “self-employed,” full-time, as a day trader, and devote all or substantially all of your time to stock-picking as self-employment. That is not what you have described.

Don’t think you have any concerns. Hope that helps.

Best, Al Sklover

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© 2009 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.