You Can Stop And Restart Unemployment Aid Throughout Your Benefit Year
When you first apply for unemployment, you become eligible to receive a certain amount of money based on how much you used to earn every week, averaged over the previous four quarters. On average, this amount will replace roughly half of your previous earnings or less, and exact calculations vary by state. In April 2020, state-provided unemployment averaged $333 per week nationwide but ranged from a low of $101 in Oklahoma to $531 in Massachusetts.
This dollar figure is the maximum of what you can receive in unemployment every week for a benefit year of 52 weeks.
The number of weeks you can collect unemployment within that 52-week period will depend on your state. State allowances range from a low of 12 weeks in Florida and North Carolina to a high of 28 weeks in Montana but are most commonly 26 weeks. You don’t have to use your weeks of unemployment consecutively, but generally you do have to use them within a year of when you first qualified for benefits.
So, for example, let’s say you live in a state that offers 26 weeks of unemployment. You qualify for aid and claim benefits for 13 weeks. Your employer reopens and you’re rehired, so you stop collecting benefits while you’re working full-time. Twenty-six weeks go by. If the business shuts down again after that period, you’ll still have a remaining 13 weeks to collect unemployment before your benefit year expires.
This is how your unemployment period could break down in normal circumstances.
Locked Out: Unemployed Floridians Losing Benefits Over Id Verification
If youre on unemployment and have been locked out of your account, youre not alone.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says when claimants verify their identity through ID.ME , the departments fraud prevention system has been re-locking their claims.
The DEO says the system should be automatically unlocking claims now, but that it can take 24 to 48 hours to do so.
When Jerry Cutaias friends wife died of COVID-19 last year, he knew he had to do something. He packed up and moved to Florida to help his friend care for his daughter, and he got a job. But that job came to an end as Cutaias high-risk condition meant he had to stay home and go on unemployment during the pandemic.
People rely on this money to pay their bills and survive, Cutaia said. Everything was going fine until last Tuesday when Cutaia logged into his ID.ME account and was asked to verify his identity â he did so and has been locked out ever since.
Cutaia says he then re-verified his identity a total of 84 times over the next seven days â with no help in sight.
He was finally got through to someone on ID.MEs Facebook page and was then let back into his account but said the service needs to come up with a better way of communicating with its claimants.
If wouldve warned me, at least I couldve gotten ahead of the game and started working on it, now its time to pay bills and its locked, Cutaia said.
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To Be Eligible For Benefits You Must:
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Force Reset Used On 58000 Accounts Targeted By Cyberthieves
Thousands of Florida unemployment accounts were locked without warning this week in a move to counter a potential data breach that targeted nearly 58,000 Department of Economic Opportunity Connect accounts.
The words YOUR ACCOUNT HAS REACHED THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF FAILED LOGIN ATTEMPTS AND HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY LOCKED greeted thousands of men and women who attempted to request weekly benefits from the DEO on Aug. 4.
Kim Renshaw, a married mother of two from Mount Dora, said she immediately thought of the DEO report that confirmed cyber thieves had targeted thousands of accounts between April and July of this year.
If I cant access that money how am I supposed to take care of my family, Renshaw said Monday. I believe hackers are trying to get what money they can.
The DEO strategy was designed to counter thieves trying to hijack the system, according to Emilie Oglesby, the departments Director of Communications.
In an abundance of caution, the Department completed a force reset for PIN numbers for the individuals who were impacted by the data breach, Oglesby said. These claimants will be prompted to reset their PIN when they try to log-in to CONNECT. Oglesby said claimants have the option to receive an email or answer the 3 security questions they set up when they first created their CONNECT account.
Both Renshaw and Neal said they never received a DEO message that their accounts were on the potential hacker hit list.
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How To File For Partial Unemployment
The process of filing for partial unemployment is the same as filing for regular or full-time unemployment. To file a new claim or check eligibility, visit your states Department of Labor site. Most states have an FAQ page that is a great resource to confirm any questions you have about eligibility which, according to Tayne, is often easier than calling the organization directly.
Call centers have had extraordinarily high wait times since the pandemic started, so try calling when you have time to spare if you need to speak to a live representative, Tayne explained.
Prior to filing for partial unemployment, it helps to gather all necessary information in advance, including your tax returns from the previous year, addresses and dates of former employment, and the exact amount of your gross wages.
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Questions You May Be Asked
- You may be asked whether you want taxes withheld from your unemployment check.
- You may also be asked if youre owed any vacation or holiday pay.
- The unemployment office will want to know the reason you left the job. Primary criteria for unemployment eligibility features being out of work because of no fault of your own.
If you quit or if there are questions about your termination, the application process may be more complicated. However, if your claim is denied, there is an appeals process.
Colleen Tighe / The Balance
You Meet Requirements For Time Worked And Wages Earned
To get unemployment, you must have worked for a certain amount of time and earned a minimum amount of money. Typically, the unemployment office looks at your employment and earning history in the previous year. Every state sets its own requirements. Check with your state to learn about its policy.
Most states also require that you were a part-time or full-time employee. If you were an independent contractor, like a freelancer, then you probably cant get benefits. Thats because your employer may not have paid unemployment taxes while you were working.
With that said, during the coronavirus pandemic, federal relief was offered to self-employed and gig workers. Although these benefits are often temporarily extended to freelancers, its wise to check with your states unemployment office for the most up-to-date information.
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Budget For Less Than Your Old Paycheck
Not only does each state have its own unemployment rules, each state also pays out a different amount for unemployment.
In many states, youll get roughly half of what you earned at your job each week for up to 26 weeks. But other states have a different formula thats less generous, so the overall average replacement rate is closer to 40%. And in some states, the benefits period can be as short as 12 weeks.
But as part of the same CARES Act that expanded eligibility, Congress also added an additional 13 weeks of unemployment funding. So right now, depending on your state, you might be eligible for up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Also, each state has a cap, or maximum amount, you can get, and that maximum amount varies significantly depending on where you live. According to figures provided by Evermore, the lowest is $235 in Mississippi, and the highest is in Massachusetts at $1,192, including additional dependent allowances.
So if you were lucky enough to have a well-paying job, youll probably get a lot less than half of your previous salary each week from your unemployment claim.
How To Stay On Unemployment
While collecting unemployment, you are required to file weekly or biweekly claims detailing your job hunt, job offers, earnings from part-time work, and any times youve refused work .
Theres no one set path for all unemployed people because requirements vary by state, but theres a good chance youll have to attend in-person meetings to update the unemployment agency on the progress of your job search. You also might be encouraged to attend training sessions to help you increase your job prospects.
Its not easy to stay on unemployment, Sanborn says. You have to go to a lot of in-person meetings and career training sessions on finding a job or updating a resume. If you dont report to your unemployment office for a check-in when youre supposed to, you could lose your benefits. Usually you have to submit a list of applications and put down the name and phone number in case they check in on it, Sanborn notes. But the biggest hassle is that you do need to keep going to those meetings.
While collecting unemployment, keep in mind that your benefits are subject to federal income taxes and you need to report them on your federal tax return. If you want, you can choose to have the tax withheld by your State Unemployment Insurance agency.
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Do I Need To Meet With Anyone In Person
Some states require unemployed workers to meet with the unemployment department representatives to receive help with their job search and/or re-employment assistance.
If your state happens to be among these, there’s no need to panic. In many cases, it’s a routine meeting designed to assist with your job search not to put you or your job search under a microscope. Your meeting may be an individual meeting or a group meeting with other unemployed workers. It’s important to remember to bring records of your work search if you are required to apply for a certain number of jobs each week.
Cares Act Unemployment Expansion
The CARES Act law expanded the range of “good cause” possibilities to include reasons related to Covid-19.
Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity lists several qualifying reasons on its website. For example, if a worker:
is in self-quarantine due to being immuno-compromised.
has Covid-19 symptoms, came in contact with someone over the past 14 days who tested positive, or is required to care for someone who tested positive
is unable to do their job temporarily due to coronavirus-related medical complications or
has a family care responsibility without access to an alternative .
States also generally allow workers to collect benefits if a business hasn’t complied with state or federal guidance for safely reopening in their industry, or the worker believes the workplace is unsafe.
Importantly, though, workers can’t turn down a job because of general fear of Covid-19 or dislike of their job.
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Who Can Use Benefit Programs Online
Anyone with a unique email address can create a Benefit Programs Online account. New accounts go through a secondary registration process to access UI Online, SDI Online, and Benefit Overpayment Services.
Note for UI Online Customers: You must have an Unemployment Insurance claim and your EDD Customer Account Number to register for a UI Online account. Visit UI Online for more information.
What Is Unemployment Insurance
Unemployment insurance is compensation provided to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own, providing monetary payments for a specific period of time or until the worker finds a new job.
Benefits are provided by state unemployment insurance programs within guidelines established by federal law. Eligibility for unemployment insurance, benefit amounts, and the length of time benefits are available are determined by laws in your state.
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Information Required To Apply For Unemployment
If youve been laid off from your job, the chances are high that you will qualify to file for unemployment benefits.
In most states, unemployed workers can apply online, over the phone, or, in some cases, by mailing a form. Many states provide information for applicants in numerous languages, including Spanish.
Applying online is the quickest and easiest way to file for unemployment. Claims are generally processed much more quickly, so you stand to start receiving benefits sooner than applying by phone or mail.
How To File For Unemployment Benefits Online
Filing for unemployment varies by state, but you should be able to file online. In New York, for example, filing for unemployment benefits is relatively simple. Unemployed workers can visit the Unemployment Benefits website to submit a new unemployment claim, claim weekly benefits, or check on the status of an existing unemployment compensation claim. Filing by phone is also an option.
In California, workers can also file an unemployment insurance claim by completing an online form. The site also features a form that can be printed out, completed, and mailed or faxed, as well as a toll-free number you can call to file for unemployment.
Most states have similar options, and each has a website with the details on how to apply for unemployment benefits.
How to find your state unemployment office:
- These sites can be found by searching for “your state name unemployment” via your favorite search engine.
- Claimants will be asked to create a username and/or password in order to log in to their account to file for unemployment benefits.
- Carefully follow the instructions for filing in your state to avoid claim delays. You’ll receive a confirmation of your claim once your application is processed.
You can also visit CareerOneStop to access a directory of state unemployment websites.
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What To Expect With Partial Unemployment
With partial unemployment, claimants still need to certify their benefits each week with their states unemployment office, including reporting the number of days/hours worked in the previous week, Tayne said.
Your unemployment benefit amount is determined by the state you live in and is typically based on how much you earn or have earned and how many hours you work. The state will typically determine a reasonable weekly value and then subtract the amount you make from work each week.
Each state is different, and in New York, for example, the individual working part time must make $504 or less and work no more than 30 hours to be eligible for partial benefits, Tayne said. Benefits are reduced by how many hours the individual worked in a week. So a person working 11 to 20 hours in a week will have benefits decreased by 50%.
For eligibility and benefits guidelines, check with your state unemployment office.
If you fail to certify your gross weekly pay, the benefits will be discontinued. Also, you cant certify in advance because your certification is for the previous week. For the week of Sunday, March 7 through Saturday, March 13, for example, the earliest you could certify is on Sunday, March 14. If you end up collecting more unemployment benefits than you are eligible for because you did not report earnings, there are severe penalties, as you could be committing fraud.
Where To File For Unemployment Benefits
You should file your claim for unemployment benefits in the state where you live and worked. .
If you become unemployed in one state and then move to another, you can file your claim in your new state. However, your benefits will be determined by the rules of your former state. Although your new state administers your claim, the cost of your benefits is charged back to the state in which you became unemployed. A move will also add time to processing your claim, usually increasing the delay by several weeks.
Keep in mind that, even when you relocate, you still must meet all the requirements of the unemployment insurance program to qualify for benefits. Your new location must be one to which you were required to move by family circumstances or in which it is logical for you to expect to find a new job. For example, you cannot decide to move to a small seacoast town with virtually no business activity because you like the countryside there, quit your old job for no other reason, then expect to be eligible for unemployment insurance when you get to your new home and cannot find work.
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