Why Havent I Received My Unemployment Benefits
With no help in sight, people like Harris are turning to elected officials, lawyers, and even social media for help. Harris is part of the Unofficial California Unemployment Help Facebook group, which has drawn more than 56,000 members since it was started in March.
When asked via email what is causing the delays, the California EDD cited unprecedented demand for unemployment benefits. The EDD says it has processed 11.9 million combined claims for the regular unemployment insurance program, as well as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Many states operate unemployment systems that are sorely out of date or didnt have the staff to handle this deluge of applications. The states are catching up, but if there is anything wrong with your application, you could get lost in the mix, says Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the progressive, independent think tank The Century Foundation.
If your application gets flagged and your states unemployment agency lacks the resources to resolve your issue, you could get stuck, says Stettner, who has over 20 years of experience as an unemployment insurance policy advocate.
This is what happened to Mikaelah Pagan, who found her way to the same Facebook group as Harris. She says she filed for unemployment with the EDD the day she lost her food service job and waited four months to receive benefits.
You Forget Your Password
With overloaded websites and phone lines, now’s an especially crucial time to keep track of your username and password when you create an account with your state’s unemployment office. If you lose any of these details, it could seriously delay your application process.
Evermore says in some states, the only way to reset a forgotten password is to call the agency’s phone line, which won’t be quick or easy these days. Don’t count on getting an email to reset a password either overloaded websites may not have the capacity to send these out in a timely manner, if at all.
“In some states, the agency will have to physically mail you your password,” Evermore says.
Bottom line: “Make absolutely sure you keep track of your password.”
How Do I Apply
To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you need to file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you worked. Depending on the state, claims may be filed in person, by telephone, or online.
- You should contact your state’s unemployment insurance program as soon as possible after becoming unemployed.
- Generally, you should file your claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states.
- When you file a claim, you will be asked for certain information, such as addresses and dates of your former employment. To make sure your claim is not delayed, be sure to give complete and correct information.
- It generally takes two to three weeks after you file your claim to receive your first benefit check.
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When Can You Get Unemployment
Check your eligibility according to your state using this drop-down menu. Under State, select the state in which you work, and follow the steps shown. Once you verify your eligibility within your state and submit your completed claim information, a claims manager or representative will review your file. The time this takes can vary based on their individual work-load and the number of claims being filed. If there is an elevated number of claims being reported, you can expect to wait longer to hear from the unemployment office.
Once they have determined your eligibility, the effective date of eligibility listed on your file is when your benefits begin. Sometimes, payments may be retroactive and cover the waiting period, also known as a wait week in some states. You can expect to wait from two weeks to about four weeks for processing and review of your file before payment begins.
Lost Wage Assistance Program
What was the Lost Wages Assistance Program ?
On August 8, 2020, the President issued an executive memorandum authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expend up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund to provide supplemental benefits to Americans receiving unemployment benefits, creating the Lost Wages Assistance Program . The program provided eligible claimants with an additional $300 in benefits for each of the qualifying weeks. LWAP was only available for the weeks ending August 1, 2020 through September 5, 2020.
Who was eligible for the additional Lost Wages Assistance ?
The program was limited in scope and, due to federal restrictions, was available only to those persons who provided self-certification that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 and who received at least $100 from a qualifying underlying unemployment benefit program.
An individual was determined to have received at least $100 per week for purposes of being an eligible claimant if the individuals weekly benefit amount as provided on the monetary determination is at least $100 . In addition, the week in question must have been considered compensable.
When did the additional Lost Wages Assistance start, and how long did it last?
Are the LWA benefits taxable?
Yes. These benefits are subject to state and federal taxes.
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Florida Unemployment Benefits Eligibility
To qualify for Florida unemployment benefits, you must meet several criteria:
- You must have lost your job through no fault of your own. You wonât qualify if you quit for personal reasons or were terminated for malicious misconduct. Poor job performance does not disqualify you.
- You must be totally or partially unemployed. Partially unemployed means your hours were reduced or youâre a part-time worker who canât find additional work.
- You must have earned at least $3,400 before taxes in what is called the “base period,” which is the first four complete quarters beginning 18 months prior to your claim.
- You must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work. This includes being able to get to a job and have child care if necessary.
The best way to find out if you are eligible is to apply online. If you need help applying or determining your eligibility, contact your local CareerSource Florida center.
Determine If You Qualify
In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, you generally must have been laid off from your job, furloughed, had your hours reduced or been required to quarantine due to the coronavirus. Youre not eligible if you quit or were fired for cause it has to be a lack of work that was out of your own control.
If you lost your job for another reason and file for unemployment anyway, your previous employer can challenge your claim, and you might be denied for benefits.
You also must have earned a minimum amount of wages as an employee to qualify for regular unemployment. However, the federal CARES Act passed in March expanded eligibility to gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed people. This part of the program is called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, but the basics are the same as regular unemployment insurance.
So if you were a ride-share driver but now cant find work because everyone is staying at home, you can file a claim. However, because this is a brand-new expansion of unemployment eligibility, many states originally struggled to implement it. The situation has improved in recent months, but you should still be prepared for delays.
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Contact Your State Representative Or Senator
As a last ditch effort, Harris reached out to her state senators office, and says she was told they would send an inquiry on her behalf. About two weeks later, in late September, Harris received back pay totaling $10,000. Harris believes she is still owed additional benefits, and is unclear on how to ensure continued benefits.
Pagan has reason to agree that, for anyone who is having trouble getting their unemployment benefits, contacting a state senator or other state elected official is probably the best bet. She credits this approach with helping get her issue resolved.
Unemployment benefits are handled by the state, so contacting your state-level elected officials can help get the ball rolling. They can sometimes get an answer faster than the unemployment office itself, Stettner says. They are doing case work on behalf of their constituents, but theyre also overwhelmed, he says. He even recommends reaching out to your state governors office.
Florida Unemployment Benefits And Eligibility
COVID-19 UPDATE: Because the coronavirus pandemic has left so many Americans jobless, the federal government has given states more flexibility in granting unemployment benefits. If you have questions about whether youre eligible for unemployment benefits read our COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits and Insurance FAQ and check out Florida’s claimant handbook.
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Direct Deposit To Your Own Bank Account Or Prepaid Card
Similar to how you may have used direct deposit to receive your paycheck, you can have your money automatically sent to your checking or savings account or a prepaid card that you already own.
What you need to know
- Benefits go directly to your own bank or credit union account or prepaid card
- Access your benefits same as you already do with other money in that account
- Benefits are sent to your account for free
What to watch out for
- Look closely for this option when filling out unemployment forms
- People without their own bank account or prepaid card must open one to take advantage of this option
With direct deposit, you receive your money quickly and safely, and you can manage your unemployment benefits just like any other funds in your account. It also eliminates the risk of paper checks getting lost or stolen, as well as the need to physically deposit or cash it at a bank or credit union.
If you prefer to use a prepaid card, direct deposit is generally an option, but youll want to check first with your card provider to find out if your card is eligible to receive direct deposit. If you dont already have a bank or credit union account or prepaid card, youd need to open a new account first, which many financial institutions are allowing you to do online.
No matter what state you live in, the following information is typically whats required for signing up:
What To Do If You Lost Your W
The W-2 form is a vital piece of info for most tax filers as it confirms the income you earned for that tax year. Sometimes known as the Wage and Tax Statement, this is sent out by employers at the beginning of every calendar year.
These businesses, by law, have to mail the W-2 forms by January 31 so that filers have sufficient time to submit their taxes by the April 15 deadline for filing taxes. Your Employer also has to send a copy of your W-2 straight to the IRS.
What if you dont have your W-2 form, what should you do next? As per the IRS, you have a few options to think about:
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Canceling Benefits Through Certification
If a claimant has already started certifying but has gone back to full-time work and no longer needs benefits, they can request that the state cease payments. California, for example, has a box for an applicant to check while certifying that lets the Employment Development Department know they no longer need the money. However, some states don’t ask claimants to do anything but stop certifying altogether. How the process works depends on the state the claimant’s state. Claimants who want to stop their payments should contact their UI department for further information.
Failing to stop certifying claims due to getting a new job can also lead to charges of fraud. Not only will the claimant have to pay back the money they’ve received, but they may face criminal penalties, such as fines or jail time. In some instances, they may also lose the ability to file future UI claims.
Pay Income Tax On Your Unemployment Benefits
Do you have to pay taxes on your unemployment benefits? In a word, yes, at least when it comes to your federal income tax return. Unemployment compensation is subject to income taxes but is not subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes, says Kathy Pickering, H& R Blocks chief tax officer.
So unlike the $1,200 stimulus payment that many people received over the spring and summer, the federal government will tax your unemployment benefits. And its not just federal taxes, either: Thirty-four states fully tax unemployment benefits, and two states partially tax unemployment benefits, according to Pickering.
Youll need to include any unemployment payments you received in 2020 on your income tax return when you file it by April 2021. If youre concerned about owing tax on that money, you can elect to pay it as you go so you dont get hit with a bill next year.
Many people find it easier to have taxes withheld from unemployment rather than make estimated tax payments, explains Pickering. Having taxes withheld or making estimated tax payments are both ways you can minimize the risk of an unexpected balance due and potential penalties.
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What To Say And What Not To Say
When completing your unemployment forms, one of the first questions you see will be something like: Explain in your own words why you left your last job. The form won’t leave much room for long-winded explanations. Take the clue and keep your responses simple and noncommittal.
Unless you were clearly dismissed from your job because of something you did wrong, avoid using the word “fired” in filling out any forms or answering any interview questions at the unemployment insurance office. There are many unspecified words thrown around concerning the end of employment, but fired is the one most often taken to mean that you did something wrong and were dismissed because of it.
If you lost your job because business was slow, note that you were laid off. “Laid off” is an equally vague term, but it is less likely to raise questions about the validity of your claim.
If you were discharged by your employer, take pains to note: “Discharged without any misconduct” or “Quit for good cause.” Leave out any qualifying details, such as: “My supervisor never liked me from the first day I walked in, so naturally I was the first to be laid off.”
Where Do I Submit My Claim
In Florida, all applications for unemployment benefits must be completed online. The process takes 30 to 60 minutes to complete and must be finished within 72 hours of when you first start the application, or you will have to start over again.
What is the Florida unemployment website? Where is the Florida unemployment login? To file your claim you must login to the states CONNECT site for state unemployment benefits. Once you are registered, you can return to the CONNECT site to locate my Florida unemployment for updates on your claim status and more.
If you need help completing your application, or if you need access to a computer for online filing, you can go to any One-Stop Career Center for assistance.
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What The Hearing Is Like
The hearing may be held in person or by phone. If the hearing won’t be in person, find out how you can submit your documents. Prepare to explain why you had to quit. If the employer claims that you quit voluntarily, be ready to explain why that’s not true. You may find it helpful to make notes of all the points you want to cover at the hearing, so you can make sure you don’t leave anything out.
One Of My Workers Quit Because He Said He Would Prefer To Receive The Unemployment Compensation Benefits Under The Cares Act Is He Eligible For Unemployment If Not What Can I Do
No, typically that employee would not be eligible for regular unemployment compensation or PUA. Eligibility for regular unemployment compensation varies by state but generally does not include those who voluntarily leave employment. Similarly, to receive PUA, an individual must be ineligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or federal law, or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, and satisfy one of the eligibility criteria enumerated in the CARES Act, as explained in Unemployment Insurance Program Letter 16-20. There are multiple qualifying circumstances related to COVID-19 that can make an individual eligible for PUA, including if the individual quits his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19. Quitting to access unemployment benefits is not one of them. Individuals who quit their jobs to access higher benefits, and are untruthful in their UI application about their reason for quitting, will be considered to have committed fraud.
If desired, employers can contest unemployment insurance claims through their state unemployment insurance agencys process.
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Do You Need To Look For Work
If youve filed your claim, gotten it approved and start receiving unemployment benefits, there are additional rules you need to be aware of to make sure you dont lose your benefits before you get a new job.
Most states require people who are receiving unemployment benefits be not only willing to work but actively looking for work. That requirement was waived by essentially every state at the start of the pandemic, but a number of them have now reimposed it.
However, as weve noted many times, every state is different, and also the definitions of actively looking for work vary from state to state. So if you arent sure if your state requires you to be currently looking for work, or what you need to do to prove that youre looking for work, double-check its unemployment website to find out.