The U.S Unemployment benefit is a program jointly funded by the state and federal governments to provide temporary monetary assistance to employees who are between jobs under certain conditions.
For example, if you are in a fix because you were fired for no reason or were forced to quit your job, you can apply for unemployment benefits. Usually, you will receive the benefits for only a few weeks, usually a maximum of 26 or until you find another job. But under strenuous circumstances, like the present COVID-19 related recession, the federal government under the CARES Act has authorized that:
- All unemployed workers are to be paid an extra 600 dollars for six months.
- The self-employed and those working in the gif economy can apply for unemployment benefits too.
- The number of weeks in which you can receive benefits from your state has been extended by 13 weeks.
How are unemployment benefits calculated?
Unemployment benefits are meant to partially make up for lost wages but are usually less than what you’d have made on the actual job. Your unemployment benefits will never be equal to what you used to earn before discharge.
Each state has its own way of calculating unemployment benefits, but in most cases, it is Base Period Earnings (BPA) divided by 26. Thus, in all states, a person’s prior earnings are taken into account. Some states take the highest-paid quarter while others just take the first few or the last few calendar earnings.
What is considered the base-period?
Most states consider either a regular, alternate, or extended base period. The regular base period takes into account the first few calendar quarter earnings prior to filing the claim. The alternate base period considers the last few calendar quarter earnings before filing the claim, while the extended base period is for those who do not fit in either the regular or alternative base period.
For example, if you file for benefits in September 2020, the regular base period starts on 1st May 2019 -31st Apr 2020, while the alternate is from 1st Aug 2019-31st July 2018.
How much will I receive under unemployment benefits?
Earnings during this period are taken into account when calculating your weekly unemployment benefits. Determine yours here. Here are a few facts, though:
Many states have an upper limit on the total weekly amount they can pay. So, in most cases, total weekly unemployment benefits range from 50% of what you used to receive before discharge to the state’s maximum weekly benefit.
Some states provide extra benefits in addition to unemployment benefits. For example, the unemployed who have dependents may receive extra cash in addition to the regular benefits.
You should also know that unemployment benefits are part of taxable income, so some percentage of it will go to the fed as income tax. You can also take a temporary job and earn an income while receiving benefits. But you must notify your state’s unemployment insurance department, which also means they will reduce your weekly benefit amount.
How do I file for federal unemployment benefits?
Claims should be filed during the first week of unemployment. It can be done online, via phone, or a visit to the state’s unemployment insurance department. If you qualify for benefits, they will tell you how much you can expect weekly.
Always have your documents ready with information such as the Social Security Number, Birth Year, last day of unemployment, name, and addresses of your employers for the past 15 months before discharge, the reason for unemployment, etc.
After you file for the unemployment benefits, it usually takes approximately 3 weeks for the state to process your claim and start making payments. Still, you will need to claim benefits for every week after you filed the claim.
How long will I claim benefits?
Usually, states permit qualified unemployed individuals to receive benefits for 26 weeks. That’s the maximum duration. But you can ask for benefits extension if you are jobless or working reduced hours.
What if I’m denied benefits?
You can appeal the decision within the first 30 days of claim rejection, and you will have to face an Administrative law judge. Unemployment benefits attorneys may help you with your appeal.
There you go; the process of filing and qualifying for unemployment benefits claim is not hard. You need to prove that your unemployment status is not of your choosing; plus, under the CARES Act, those who are self-employed or working in the gig economy can receive benefits.