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When it comes to unemployment benefits, does it generally matter whether you take a voluntary separation package or involuntary separation package?

I can speak only of New York, but there are a few things to consider which might be helpful to you. Here it was important to take my money as a lump sum. Otherwise I'd technically still be employed and drawing a salary. Further it's important to handle any vacation pay carefully so that your unemployment is not delayed while you're technically "on vacation." You must make it clear that you had no plan when you left your employment to take a vacation and are not now on vacation. I had to sign a statement so that benefits were not delayed. If you plan any classes it must be very clear that these classes do not interfere with your job hunting. You cannot here in NY collect while setting up your own business, however, any job hunting work you do might "accidentally" result in the establishment of a free-lance consulting career -- it all depends on how you describe it.

A lot of people -- 'though I'm sure not our Mary :-) -- go into the unemployment office rather defensively and with great sighing and rolling of eyes and raising of eyebrows make it clear that they are unaccustomed to dealing with such stupid and bureaucratic bumblers. I've collected twice and the first time I noticed as I waited in a very long line that the workers could make your experience very easy or very difficult. Being polite and patient goes a long way toward greasing the wheels. The people who work in there know the ins and outs of the system and you want them on your side. End of lecture.
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