How Much Does Unemployment Pay ?
How much does unemployment pay?
I hate to start this with the interminable 'It varies depending on the state you will be collecting unemployment from', but it's true.
This is the USDOL's resource that provides calculating unemployment pay formulas. (I have nothing to do with the fact that the USDOL still hasn't updated for the year 2011) They're probably overwhelmed with all the changes their guidelines are allowing the states to make.
If you're stumped .. read on.
If you'd just like a ball park figure for how much unemployment will pay .. if and when, you are allowed to collect, it will be approximately fifty percent of what you used to earn per week at your job.
Unless, fifty percent of your previous earnings goes over the maximum weekly benefit amount, which also varies by state and is also available in the resource linked to up above.
But things .. they are a changin'!!! And not necessarily for the better.
Some states have also changed the usual length of benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks .. and I don't think they changed the total benefit amount you would have been able to collect last year .. by increasing the weekly benefit amount over those twenty weeks now.
Yes, that hurts you .. the unemployed person. It's month and a half worth of benefits.
Why would some states stick it to you? To recover their insolvent general unemployment funds of course.
Since I don't really make an effort to pay attention anymore to changes that effect employers .. I don't know if the states have also taken action to restore insolvent funds by increasing the wage base upon which they collect unemployment tax ..
If I applied reason and good sense only, I would assume a state would do this because it doesn't make sense to replenish a fund on the backs of the unemployed only, considering it is job creation and new taxes that normally would restore balance to the archaic system, and given the purpose and intent of unemployment benefits to stabilize the economy by giving us the ability to spend .. it just doesn't make sense not to also raise the existing wage bases.
So, I guess I'll have to do a little research and let you know about the amount of your wages employers pay UI tax on each year.
But I caution you, don't hold your breath waiting for good sense to prevail because I can hear the arguments already .. if we tax them more .. employers surely won't start creating jobs!! Then where will we be?????
Any updates on the subject of unemployment pay will be updated through the blog.
What is an unemployment base period and what does it have to do with my unemployment pay?
The unemployment base period is an extremely relevant twelve months to any unemployment benefit year although the two things a BP (base period) and BY (benefit year) are usually not the same 12 month period.
Wages in the base period have already had employer paid UI taxes collected on your earnings and it is the earnings in the BP that determine your weekly benefit amount.
The base period, for most of us anyway, is the "standard" base period.
"FIRST 4 QUARTERS OF THE LAST 5 COMPLETED QUARTERS IN RELATION TO THE DATE YOU FILE YOUR CLAIM".
At first glance this might not seem like a big deal, but it is the very thing that could render you not able to "monetarily" qualify for unemployment or reduce your extension benefits if you accepted a job that didn't last all that long.
Many states also added an "alternative base period" in order to receive a portion of the stimulus money provided by ARRA for "modernizing UI Laws".
Additionally, some very "generous" states may have what is called an "extended base period". This is a very useful base period if you were injured on the job and it took a long time to heal just to be deemed "able and available by a doctor, thereby being without any wages for an extended period of time. In essence they will go back to your last day of work to establish your base period.
It's uncommon to find such a generous provision in laws .. but the resource will tell which states do offer this type of base period.
What is the difference between a Benefit Year and a base period?
Why don't we open up that resource now. (it does open in a new window).
A benefit year begins when you file your unemployment claim and last 12 months in most states. The dates of a claim are usually designated by acronyms BYB (benefit year begins) and BYE (benefit year ends).
During this year you are entitled to collect the "Weekly Benefit Amount" (WBA) calculated on the wages in your base period. (Benefit Year - Table 3-1.) The duration used to be 26 weeks, but as I told you .. things are changing.
States use different "qualifying formulas" some are more straight forward than others, therefore easier to get a close estimate .. others .. Einstein might say, huh??
Table 3-3 gives you the minimum amount of wages needed for the minimum weekly benefit amount and gives you the formula for calculating. If you apply the formula to the figures on the right in Table 3-3, you should come up with the amount of that states minimum weekly benefit amount listed in Table 3-5.
Table 3-5 also gives you the minimum amount of wages needed to qualify for the maximum unemployment benefit .. which varies widely from state to state.
This is the starting place. If you know what you make a week you can use a calculator and apply the formula.
If you made less than the required minimum wages .. you will not be monetarily eligible .. therefore no benefits, but remember all "initial determinations from the unemployment department are appealable and the states make plenty of mistakes when monetarily qualifying people .. sometimes it's even because the employer failed to pay UI taxes.
If you think this happened to you .. appeal and please be certain to do so timely because there is always a deadline for appeals.
If you made as much or more than the minimum needed for max benefits, you will only get the maximum amount and no more, no matter how much you made.
What else can I learn about my unemployment pay?
- The minimum amount of wages you need to earn to be eligible for a second unemployment benefit year, just in case you don't find permanent work before the end of the first year. (Table 3-4) This, I believe is what reduces and replaces extension benefits when it comes time to file a new claim for a new benefit year and you did find some sort of temp work.
- Let's not forget Partial unemployment benefits. The pay is calculated as if you were totally unemployed and then a special formula is applied. How much money you continue to earn after a specified disregarded amount of earnings is part of the formula for determining the amount of the partial benefits, if any. (See Table 3-8)
- Does your state add dependent allowances while on unemployment and who's considered a dependent. (Table 3-9) Extra amount allowed for each dependent (Table 3-10)
- Duration of benefits. (Table 3-11, but the chart we are viewing is still 2010's because the USDOL hasn't bother to update yet .. go figure)
- Whether you can collect seasonal unemployment benefits relevant to a whole lot of people whose regular job isn't year round .. like teachers .. and ski instructors and concession workers for professional sporting events .. that don't go to the playoffs. (Table 3-12)
- Can your benefits be reduced for an over issuance of food stamps. (Table 3-14)
- All states must give you the option of withholding Federal income tax from you unemployment benefits, but Table 3-15 addresses which states also provide this option for state and or local taxes as well .. depends on .. the state of course.
Why do some states have much larger maximum weekly benefit amount?
It's all to do with what is called a "wage base" which I assume has something to do with the cost of living.
Take any state maximum weekly benefit amount and times it by 26 and you have the "wage base". (Well, it's used to be a good rule of thumb.)
A wage base is something that in actuality .. only an employer would be concerned about .. except for the fact that it has a direct relation to the max weekly benefit you receive.
What it represents is the first X amount of wages earned by each employee that the employer pays unemployment tax on each year .. for each employee. If you or anyone collects on a claim .. the state recoups that money from the employer by increasing the percentage of taxes they must pay across the board.
Suffice it to say .. it can add up and is a strong motivator for employers to fight your ability to receive unemployment pay
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