You Should File Your Claim For Unemployment Benefits As Soon As You Lose Your Job But You Might Not Receive Your First Check For At Least A Few Weeks
If you have recently lost your job, you are probably anxious to start collecting unemployment benefits. Unemployment is available to those who are temporarily out of work, through no fault of their own. To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must file a claim with your state unemployment agency. The agency will then review your application, perhaps interview you , and make an eligibility determination. If the agency finds that you are eligible for benefits, it will calculate your benefit amount and begin paying your benefits.
This article explains how the process generally works. However, each state follows its own procedures for handling unemployment claims. To find out how long you should expect to wait to start receiving benefits, contact your state’s unemployment agency.
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Many states operate unemployment systems that are sorely out of date or didnt have the staff to handle this deluge of applications.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 Were Fired For Misconduct
Theres a difference between getting fired and getting laid off. If youre fired for gross misconduct, then you likely wont qualify. Misconduct could include chronic lateness or absenteeism, carelessness or violence.
Some states only consider misconduct within the workplace. Others let employers fire employees for their behavior outside of work.
If theres bad blood between you and your employer, then you can argue your case at an unemployment hearing. If the judge decides against you, your last recourse is to appeal the decision and try again.
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Planning For 2021 Taxes If Youre Still Unemployed
The tax exemption for $10,200 in unemployment benefits currently only applies to unemployment income you collected in 2020, even though the bill also extended weekly $300 federal unemployment benefits payments through September.;
You should consider any unemployment benefits you receive in 2021 as fully taxable. If you can afford to do so, avoid a surprise bill and penalties next tax season by electing to have taxes withheld from your weekly benefits payments or by paying quarterly estimated taxes throughout the year.
You can elect to have 10% of your unemployment benefits withheld from your weekly check. Even if you did not select this withholding on your original claim, you can file Form W-4V with your states unemployment office to begin 10% tax withholding on future unemployment payments.;;
You can also forgo automatic withholding and instead pay estimated quarterly taxes on your unemployment income. Use Form 1040-ES to figure and file your quarterly payments. If you choose to pay estimated taxes on your unemployment benefits, the first payment is due April 15, 2021.
What To Do If You Have Filed Already
If you collected unemployment insurance in 2020 but you already filed your tax return, you are still eligible for the exemption under the American Rescue Plan. You do not need to take any action to claim the money youre owed. Instead, the IRS will automatically refund the money.;
The first round of payments will begin in May and continue over the summer, according to the IRS. Youll either receive a refund or the amount will be deducted from your taxes owed.
There is no need for taxpayers to file an amended return unless the calculations make the taxpayer newly eligible for additional federal credits and deductions not already included on the original tax return, the agency noted in a recent release.;
This includes, for example, taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit but are eligible for an increased credit under the new exemption. While youll automatically get a refund for the exemption, youll need to file an amended return to get a larger credit.
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Understanding Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced states and businesses to shut down, the U.S. is likely looking at months of high unemployment rates. Predicted long-term to be one of the harshest unemployment situations since the Great Depression, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate at 6.7% at the end of 2020.
Millions of out-of-work Americans are depending on unemployment insurance to help cover their housing costs, groceries, and other expenses. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation is one of several new programs established by the CARES Act to help alleviate some of the economic pain caused by COVID-19.
The Lost Wages Assistance program, which provided $300 to $400 in weekly compensation to eligible claimants, stopped accepting applications on Dec. 27, 2020.
Under FPUC, eligible people who collect certain unemployment insurance benefits, including regular unemployment compensation, received an extra $600 in federal benefits each week through July 31, 2020.
FPUC is a flat amount given to people who received unemployment insurance, including those with a partial unemployment benefit check. The original amount of $600 was reduced to $300 per week after the program was extended in August 2020, as long as your state signed the agreement as of Dec. 26, 2020. The expiration date for this new weekly amount is September 6, 2021, as it was extended by the American Rescue Plan.
Duration Of Unemployment Benefits
In a normal economic climate, most states offer unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, or half a year, although a handful of states now offer benefits for fewer weeks. In these anything-but-normal times, however, the total period for which a former employee can receive benefits has been extended by an additional 13 weeks, up to a total of 39 weeks.
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How To Get Paid For Missing Weeks
New Exclusion Of Up To $10200 Of Unemployment Compensation
If your modified adjusted gross income is less than $150,000, the American Rescue Plan enacted on March 11, 2021, excludes from income up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation paid in 2020, which means you dont have to pay tax on unemployment compensation of up to $10,200. If you are married, each spouse receiving unemployment compensation doesnt have to pay tax on unemployment compensation of up to $10,200. Amounts over $10,200 for each individual are still taxable. If your modified AGI is $150,000 or more, you cant exclude any unemployment compensation. If you file Form 1040-NR, you cant exclude any unemployment compensation for your spouse.
The exclusion should be reported separately from your unemployment compensation. See the updated instructions and the Unemployment Compensation Exclusion Worksheet to figure your exclusion and the amount to enter on Schedule 1, line 8. ;
When figuring the following deductions or exclusions from income, if you are asked to enter an amount from Schedule 1, line 7 enter the total amount of unemployment compensation reported on line 7 and if you are asked to enter an amount from Schedule 1, line 8, enter the amount from line 3 of the Unemployment Compensation Exclusion Worksheet. See the specific form or instructions for more information. If you file Form 1040-NR, you arent eligible for all of these deductions. See the Instructions for Form 1040-NR for details.
How Do You File For Unemployment Benefits
Once youve answered the question, can you get unemployment relief if you quit your job or are laid off? head to the unemployment website of your state. There, you can find an application for benefits.
Youll provide your name, address, Social Security or work visa number, and details about your last job. If you prefer to complete the process in person, then you can do so at your local unemployment office.
The process takes a few weeks, so start early. File a claim ASAP, and collect any documentation to support your case. If everything goes smoothly, youll be notified of your eligibility after three to four weeks. If approved, youll be financially supported as you search for your next job.
Are you currently on the job hunt? Check out this guide for tips on tackling common questions asked during a job interview.
And if youre concerned about student loan repayment until you find work, review repayment strategies while unemployed.
Am A College Student Or Recent Graduate
If you are a full-time student, the presumption is that youre not available to take a job although there are some states that are flexible about this, Holmes says. . You do qualify for PUA if youre a recent graduate who had an offer rescinded because of the pandemic. But if you don’t have any demonstrable tie to the workforce, youre likely not eligible.
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When Will Payments Start
Thefirst week you are eligible for unemployment benefits is called your waiting week. You do not get paid for your waiting week.
You must meet the eligibility requirements and submit a weekly claim to receive credit for your waiting week. You must continue to submit weekly claims every week that you want to receive unemployment benefits, unless otherwise instructed.
Should You Reach Out To An Unemployment Lawyer
In general, it doesnt make sense to hire a lawyer right out of the gate. If you receive a letter saying your claim has been denied or that you are not eligible for benefits that you think is wrong, thats when you should look into legal services, Stettner says.
Unfortunately, getting legal representation can be difficult or not worth the cost of hiring a lawyer. A lot of states limit the fees an attorney can charge for unemployment representation, Kalish says. That prevents attorneys from gouging clients who are desperate and in need, he says. But in states where such caps are extremely low, it can be hard to find legal representation for unemployment cases. On the other hand, legal representation may be too expensive in states with no restrictions.
You might be able to find public interest groups that provide pro bono unemployment legal counseling. For example, the Unemployment Law Project provides free legal advice and representation for unemployment cases in Washington state. But these organizations are so overwhelmed they are likely only able to help a small fraction of people in need. Its really tricky to provide a large number of people with good unemployment advice, Kalish says.
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Unemployment Insurance Relief During Covid
The CARES Act gives states the option of extending unemployment compensation to independent contractors and other workers who are ordinarily ineligible for unemployment benefits. Please contact your states unemployment insurance office at the website or phone number provided below to learn more about the availability of these benefits where you live.
Receive Your Benefit Payments
It takes at least three weeks to process a claim for unemployment benefits and issue payment to most eligible workers.
When your first benefit payment is available, you will receive a debit card in the mail. Once you activate the card you can track, use, and transfer your benefit payments. Your card is valid for three years from the date it is issued and is used for all EDD benefit programs, so you should keep it until it expires.
If you received Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, or Paid Family Leave benefits on a debit card in the last three years, you will receive your benefit payments on that card. If your card has expired, a new card will automatically be sent to you once funds are available.
Note: If you were issued a debit card before 2015, you must request a new one. Visit Bank of Americas website or contact Bank of America at 1-866-692-9374 .
If you lost your debit card, contact Bank of America as early as possible in the application process to request a replacement card before your first payment. Your new card will arrive 7 to 10 business days from the order date. You have a couple options to request a new card:
- Visit the Bank of America website.
- Contact Bank of America at 1-866-692-9374 . You do not need to have your old card number or speak to a representative. Choose the Lost or Stolen option in the automated menu. The call center is experiencing higher than normal wait times and Bank of America is working to address the issue.
Look For Important Documents From The Edd
You will receive these documents in the mail within two weeks of submitting your unemployment application:
- Employment Development Department Customer Account Number Notification Your EDD Customer Account Number is required to register for UI Online. If you were automatically enrolled in UI Online or already have an existing UI Online account there is no need to re-register. Your EDDCAN may be used instead of your Social Security number when speaking with the EDD so it is important to keep for your records.
- Use this form to certify for continued benefits every two weeks. You can also certify through UI OnlineSM or EDD Tele-CertSM.
Notice To Bank Of America Cardholders:
Iowa Workforce Development has changed prepaid card providers
What’s happening:;As of January 27, 2021, your;Bank of America debit card will no longer receive deposits from Iowa Workforce Development. Your Bank of America card account will remain active until May 31, 2021.
What to expect: Iowa Workforce Development has already issued replacement cards with our new prepaid service provider, U.S. Bank.;
What you need to do: Prior to May 31, 2021, you may continue to use your Bank of America debit card until the remaining funds are exhausted. If your card expires prior to that date it will not be reissued. To transfer funds to your existing checking or savings account, select the Transfer funds option on the Bank of America website. The website URL is listed on the back of your card. Your card also remains subject to the terms of the Bank of America cardholder agreement.;
Havent Had A Job In A Long Time
The CARES Act extended unemployment insurance for an additional 13 weeks over each state’s limit, meaning most people automatically qualified for 39 weeks. Most states also offer extended benefits between 13 and 20 extra weeks, depending on the state. But if you were unemployed for several months before the pandemic or have otherwise exhausted these benefits, you are no longer eligible for UI.
What Happens If You Quit Or Get Fired
We will schedule a phone interview to discuss your claim and circumstances. If you quit, you must prove good cause for quitting. If you are fired, your employer must prove there was misconduct. Either party can disagree with the decision and file an appeal.
If you do not receive a call at your scheduled appointment time, we may have canceled your appointment because we confirmed your eligibility or resolved the issue before your interview. If your appointment has been canceled, it will no longer show in UI Online. Check UI Online for your current payment status.
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I Run A Nonprofit Organization And Am A Reimbursing Employer Under My States Unemployment Insurance Program Due To The Economic Impacts Of The Covid
Contact your state unemployment insurance office to learn what options may be available for delaying reimbursement payments. The CARES Act allows states to provide maximum flexibility to reimbursing employers as it relates to timely payments in lieu of contributions and assessment of penalties and interest. The U.S. Department of Labor will soon be issuing guidance on how states should implement this provision.