What Has Congress Done During The Pandemic Crisis
During recessions, Congress usually funds additional weeks of UI benefits for those who have exhausted their regular benefits. The CARES Act extended the duration of UI benefits by 13 weeks and increased payments by $600 per week through July 31st. All the extra benefits and extensions in benefit duration, as well as the expansion of UI eligibility to previously ineligible workers, are entirely financed by the federal government.
Because of the extra $600 a week, maximum UI benefits will exceed 90 percent of average weekly wages in all states. About two-thirds of workers are making more from UI than they did when they were working, according to researchers at the University of Chicagos Becker Friedman Institute. One out of five eligible unemployed workers will receive benefits at least twice as large as their lost earnings.
In addition, the act temporarily loosens the eligibility criteria for UI to include part-time workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and the self-employed who are unemployed because of the pandemic. The act also waives work history requirements. These newly eligible workers will receive the average UI benefit for workers in their state, plus the additional $600.
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.
Rights Of Fired Employees
The first thing to do after being fired is to find out what your rights are and if you are eligible for a severance package. Retrieve any documentation that may pertain to why you were fired. Be sure to have a paper trail in order to back up the evidence for the dismissal. Even if you think an email or memo may not be relevant, hold onto it, as it may be needed if your unemployment claim is denied.
If you file an unemployment claim and it is denied, you have the right to appeal that decision. Youll need to represent yourself in most cases, so it will be in your best interest to have as much evidence as possible to support your case.
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If I Do Not Get A Waiver Can I Appeal
If you do not get a waiver, you can file an appeal in Superior Court. You must file your appeal within 10 days. Your appeal is called an 80C appeal.
The Superior Court has to accept the facts found by the Commission. The court can only change the Commissions decision if it is unconstitutional, is based on an error of law, or is not supported by facts in the record taken as a whole. For most people, this may be difficult to do without the help of a lawyer.
What Can The Claimant Do If He Or She Believes A Job Offer Is Not For Suitable Employment
If a state raises an issue of failure to accept suitable employment, the state unemployment insurance agency must provide the claimant with an opportunity to provide his or her side of the story and to rebut any evidence provided to the state before making a final determination.
Most state laws allow for refusal of suitable employment for good cause, which is defined in state law. Criteria for good cause may include, but are not limited to, the degree of risk to an individuals health, safety, and morals the individuals physical fitness, prior training, experience, and earnings the length of unemployment and prospects for securing local work in a customary occupation and the distance of the available work from the individuals residence.
Claimants may file an appeal if they disagree with a states determination regarding suitable work. Please contact your state unemployment insurance agency for additional information.
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How To Track Your Refund And Check Your Tax Transcript
The first way to get clues about your refund is to try the IRS online tracker applications: The Where’s My Refund tool can be accessed here. If you filed an amended return, you can check the Amended Return Status tool.
If those tools don’t provide information on the status of your unemployment tax refund, another way to see if the IRS processed your refund is by viewing your tax records online. You can also request a copy of your transcript by mail or through the IRS’ automated phone service by calling 1-800-908-9946.
Here’s how to check your tax transcript online:
1. Visit IRS.gov and log in to your account. If you haven’t opened an account with the IRS, this will take some time as you’ll have to take multiple steps to confirm your identity.
2. Once logged in to your account, you’ll see the Account Home page. Click View Tax Records.
3. On the next page, click the Get Transcript button.
4. Here you’ll see a drop-down menu asking the reason you need a transcript. Select Federal Tax and leave the Customer File Number field empty. Click the Go button.
5. The following page will show a Return Transcript, Records of Account Transcript, Account Transcript and Wage & IncomeTranscript for the last four years. You’ll want the 2020 Account Transcript.
6. This will open a PDF of your transcript: Focus on the Transactions section. What you’re looking for is an entry listed as Refund issued, and it should have a date in late May or June.
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.
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Requirements For Qualifying For Unemployment
Eligibility requirements to qualify for unemployment compensation vary from state to state. However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are two main criteria that must be met in order to qualify:
1. You must be unemployed through no fault of your own. In this case, a persons unemployment must be caused by an external factor beyond his or her control, such as a layoff or a furlough. Quitting your job with a good reason or being fired for misconduct in the workplace will most likely render you ineligible for unemployment benefits.
There may be an exception, however, if wrongful termination or constructive discharge played a role in your termination from employment.
2. You must meet your states requirements for time worked or wages earned during a set period of time. This marker can be confusing, but its safe to assume that if you had a long-term job that you lost unexpectedly or without just cause, you would meet your states requirements.
What To Do If Your Claim Is Denied
After you file for unemployment, the state may accept your claim, and youll receive your benefits. But what if youre denied benefits or the state asks you to provide additional information? You can file an unemployment appeal and explain your situation in a hearing.
The state unemployment office will typically send you a letter that will list the date and time of your hearing. These hearings are generally conducted over the phone.
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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.
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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Reason You Are Unemployed
You may have enough wages in your base period to establish a benefit account however, the reason for the separation from your employment could make you ineligible to receive benefits.
Quit: Applicants who quit employment are not eligible unless the quit falls into one of the following categories:
- Good reason caused by the employer .
- To accept better employment.
- Your serious illness or injury required you to quit, or to care for an immediate family member due to their illness or disability.
- The job was part-time work, and the wages in your base period are from full-time work that was lost through no fault of your own.
- The employment was unsuitable and you quit within the first 30 days of employment.
- The employment was unsuitable and you quit to enter full-time reemployment assistance training.
- You were notified that you will be laid-off within the next 30 days and you quit before the lay-off date.
- Domestic abuse of you or your minor child required quitting.
- Loss of child care with reasonable efforts made to find new child care.
- Your spouse’s job location changed.
Discharged for employment misconduct: Applicants who are discharged because of employment misconduct are not eligible to receive unemployment benefit payments. Employment misconduct means any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct that seriously violates standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect.
- On or off the job
- That had a significant adverse effect on the employment.
What Other Changes Might Be Made To The Ui System
Even though the CARES Act provides much needed relief to many, some workers are still ineligible, including undocumented workers and people entering the workforce for the first time, such as new high school and college graduates.
One major problem emerged during the COVID-19 crisis. State labor offices with outdated computer systems were overwhelmed by the volume of claims. Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, estimates that by the end of May, only about 18.8 million out of 33 million claims had been paid nationwide. That number has steadily improved from 47 percent of paid claims at the end of April and 14 percent at the end of March. For people who rely on UI to meet their basic needs, waiting weeks or even months to get their checks will create many hardships, even though the benefits are retroactive to the time of filing. Efforts could be made to improve the functioning of the UI system so applications can be processed and checks delivered more quickly.
Although the federal government is fully funding the additional benefits under the CARES Act, the act doesnt include funding to help states finance the huge increases in regular unemployment insurance benefits.
Among the options Congress could consider are:
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Common Mistakes Made By Ui Claimants
- Part Time or Temporary Work
- You must report your gross wages for each week you work and certify for benefits, even if you dont get paid until later. Be sure to accurately report on all earnings during your weekly claim certification even those from part-time or temporary work. If you collect more UI benefits than you are eligible to receive for because you fail to report earnings, you may be committing fraud and may be prosecuted.
- Prosecution by government authorities
- Possible jail or prison sentences
- Repaying the UI benefits collected, plus penalties and fines
- Forfeiting future income tax refunds
- Losing the eligibility to collect UI benefits in the future
Other Unemployment Insurance Questions
I am returning to work. Do I need to do anything to notify the Department of Labor?
If you are returning to work, you do not need to notify the Department at this time. You simply should stop filing your weekly claims. If you file for a week you are fully employed, that is fraudulent activity and you will be denied benefits. If you work and perform work during a week in which you are filing for UI benefits, you must report the hours worked and wages earned.
My claim has been in adjudication for a few weeks now. Is there a timeline for when I will receive a determination?
If your claim is in adjudication, it will be adjudicated in the order it was received.
How do I reset my PIN?
If you need your PIN reset, you may call our supplemental phone line at 888-807-7072.
I was already on unemployment before COVID-19, do I still need to be looking for work?
No. All work search requirements have been waived as result of COVID-19. The Department will notify claimants when work search requirements are reinstated.
My return to work date has passed. I dont know when I will be going back to work, so how do I update that?
At this time, you do not need to update your return to work date. The Department will announce any changes to this process.
Why am I getting SSN not found when filing my weekly claim?
You are likely experiencing SSN not found for one of the following reasons:
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The Latest On Applying For Benefits Eligibility Additional Stimulus Benefits And More
by Kenneth Terrell, AARP, Updated March 12, 2021
Can I get unemployment benefits because I lost my job due to the coronavirus?
In most cases, if you lost your job as a result of the shutdowns related to the pandemic, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. In particular, recent federal law has given states flexibility to offer unemployment benefits to workers when:
- an employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19.
- they are quarantined but expect to return to the job after the quarantine ends.
- they leave a job because of the risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
Because of the economic crisis that the pandemic has caused, the federal government has also raised the amount of money you can receive in benefits. You can now get an additional $300 per week, on top of the typical state benefit you would receive. This additional $300 increase is set to expire on Sept. 6, 2021. What’s more, under the recent federal COVID response bill, you can receive unemployment benefits for up to 79 weeks through the various relief programs the federal government has created.
Because of the coronavirus stimulus legislation, gig workers and the self-employed are also eligible for these unemployment benefits. The provision that makes both of these categories of workers eligible for benefits is scheduled to expire on Sept. 6, 2021.
How do I apply for unemployment benefits?
How much money can I get if I apply for unemployment benefits?