Posted October 12, 2009 9:59 am by with 6 comments

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Google AdSense or unemployment benefits? It’s your choice, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too–even when that cake amounts to just $1.30 a day in AdSense earnings!

The New York State Department of Labor is investigating the eligibility of an unemployed attorney who was receiving $405 a week in unemployment benefits. That $405 has been stopped while the DoL decides if the earnings she receives from ads displayed on her new restaurant review site are either:

a) Income

b) Residual earnings

c) Self employed revenue

Surprisingly, there is no option “d”–is ~$40 a month in AdSense enough to live on?

Of course, most people would have just kept quiet about the check, but “Karin”–the semi-anonymous blogger who’s the focus of the Forbes piece–is studying for the bar. She likely knew she had a legal obligation to report her earnings:

According to state regulations, anyone receiving unemployment benefits who works one day and earns less than $405 will have his check for the week reduced by 25%. Someone who earns more than $405 in a single week becomes ineligible for any payments for that week.

While the DoL tries to find enough bureaucrats to change a light bulb figure this out, she’s left with no benefit check whatsoever. Perhaps the focus shouldn’t be on what constitutes income, but how anyone is expected to live off just $405 a month week. The government handout is appreciated, but for the love of pete, give the unemployed a chance to supplement that so they can do things, like eat food!

If we can hand billions of dollars in bailouts to banks and car manufacturers, can’t we give a blogger $400 a month week while they try to build up their blogging income?

  • Scott Orth

    Small correction – the benefit is $405 each week (not month); but your point still holds – how can anyone (especially in New York) live on $405/week – let alone the $40/month she makes on Adsense.

    This is one of those unfortunate situations that proves to people that NOT being upfront and honest just might save your livelihood.

    • Andy Beal

      Thanks for catching that Scott. I started out with the correct timeframe, then somehow got sidetracked. :-)

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  • Anonymous

    It’s funny that I came across this article as I too made a few hundred a month with Adsense and was recently denied NYS unemployment because of this as well There is something seriously wrong with this. I quickly regretted saying anything, but I am not the type of person to lie about it, so it was quite an uncomfortable and annoying situation.