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Wall of text - Help with weird unemployment question?

I’ve been laid-off after 20+ years but have some severance coming. I’m okay for a while. It’s a privileged position to be in.

I’m conflicted about starting unemployment compensation because 1) others need it more, it’s bad out there, people are going without basics; 2) I don’t want to look hard for a job for a couple of weeks, I desperately need a break and time for the creative juices to flow, maybe think about finding something a little different, not just replicate the same old, same old; 3) I want unemployment to be there if I can’t find find anything once I start looking in earnest; 4) I don’t really want to burden my former employer if I can help it.

I paid up front and talked to an unemployment lawyer and he was useless. He didn’t know if unemployment would be available later if I didn’t apply now, he also implied I would be ineligible and seemed offended that I would apply when I had severance and then turned around and recommended strongly that I apply right away as a standard practice and let the state (WA) decide what I’m entitled to. He didn’t know if the employer gets the money if I give it back later or how taxes are handled in such an event.

Anyway, I applied and I’m due to fill out the claim for last week and I’m just not sure if this is my best option.

TL;DR: is it possible to delay unemployment without losing it completely? What’s my best option in a long recession when I’m okay for now and when others are desperate?

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