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Contract Assignments?

by Mike


This is unfortunately a bit of past history, but I am still confused over something. Sadly, my job of over 20 years was lost to downsizing. In the following months (the next year, actually), I was offered, and accepted, two contract assignments, ironically, from the company that downsized us.

The assignments occurred just a couple months apart from each other. Luckily, I had satisfied the requirements (enough hours/earnings) to reopen my unemployment claim for help while I continued looking for a job.

Upon visiting my local employment office, I was told the claim was reopened based on the strength of the first contract job; the second, which, ironically, required much more work, did not even factor into the equation.

Believing that since both were done on the same benefit year, I did not initially think I could reapply on the second claim. But later I got a sinking feeling that I missed out on continued benefit help.

Hope this isn't too confusing, but could that second contract assignment have still helped me? The good news is that I did qualify for the emergency benefit extensions -- just wondered whether one would have necessarily cancelled out the other. Thanks for all your time!

Hi Mike,

I'd love to help you understand, but I missing some information.

This is a "monetary" question and monetary answers need dates of employment, filing dates, and in your case past claim information and of course what state we're talking about.

I have a sneaking suspicion though that what you might be confused about is the base period.

Even though whether we get unemployment or not is decided on the merits of the reasons for separation from the "most recent work", it is the earnings or "wage credits" you have accumulated in your base period that are considered to calculate your weekly benefit amount.

If the last contract job was not included it's probably because most states first use this base period - The first four .. of the last five .. completed quarters. The base is determined relative to the date you file.

In other words, anyone filing for unemployment between 10/1 and 12/31 of 09 will have a base period of 4/1/08 through 3/31/09 .. even those laid off on 12/30/09 and file on 12/31/09.

Some states do have "alternative" or "extended" base periods, but they are used when the old stand-by fails to produce enough wages to qualify.

Did this help? Or do you think you will be forever scratching your head:)


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Nov 09, 2009
Some Further Details
by: Anonymous

Chris, greetings and continuing thanks for all the time and help.

To help zero in a little more, here is what I hope provides more specific detail.

The downsizing occurred late in the year, with initial benefits filing on December 12.

The first contract assignment took place the following year, from March 22 to May 6. It satisfied New Jersey requirements for continuation of benefits.

The second contract assignment ran from July 30 until October 7. It, too, satisfied benefits terms, while also being quite intense in scope and content.

Ironically, both provided jobs were within the benefit year of my original claim (as I understand the conditions), and someone over the phone had actually advised me to wait a bit before refiling, for that very reason, so as to avoid any confusion or overlap.

Therefore, I did not refile until December 19 of that year. I did indeed qualify. It was into the next year that I visited the local office with questions and was told the benefits were reinstated based on the first assignment alone.

When I placed a call some time later with lingering concern about the validity of the second job -- whether I should have re-refiled based on that one -- it was then the representative claimed I should have, creating a sense of anxiety over what I may have lost.

However, based on your reply, I had a feeling of "one size fitting all." I didn't think the second one could be used, in other words.

Is this belief correct? Again, so many thanks!!


Hi Mike,

You know I would be happy to help you figure this out, but the one thing that continues to be absent from any details you do provide is the year .. you do understand that after 26 weeks of benefits .. regular benefits are exhausted and extensions kick in.

Additionally, after 12 months a new claim needs to be filed.

I realize you think you are providing the information needed, but the questions you are asking would require me to ask questions and probably even review the documentation you have received from the state.

Oct 20, 2009
Here's Some More Info.
by: Mike P.

Chris, thanks for your time!

At the time, the downsizing occurred late in the year, with me filing for benefits originally in November/December.

The first contract assignment ran for six weeks, in spring the following year. The second was a little longer and much more intense, going from about August to early October.

At one point, I had even been advised to wait on refiling, as my original claim was still running for that benefit year period. I waited until that December to file. So, my claim was excepted and help with compensation continued into that following year.

It wasn't until later that I worried that that other contract assignment might have made a valid claim, too. But I really did not think it possible because both assignments were performed within the same benefit period/year. I did not attempt to re-refile, based on that belief.

Might this be helpful for further data? Thanks again!

Hi Mike,

One claim, one base period, All "covered" employment from all employers in the base period per benefit year.

That's how it works. You can't file separate claims for separate jobs. Jobs show up in the base period established at the time a claim is filed.

The problem is that people don't understand base periods because they are a different period of time than the benefit year.

Depending on the dates it is quite possible for someone to file for a second benefit year and still have qualifying wages which is generally wages in at least two quarters.

The difference between the benefit year and the standard base period (first 4 of the last 5 completed quarters, relative to the date the claim is filed) creates what is known as a lag period and that can be up to six months.

When I said I'd need dates .. I meant very specific dates .. 00/00/00

Let say, for example that a person worked for one company all their life until they are laid off. File and start collecting, exhaust their benefits and don't find a job until right around the time their benefit year ends .. Dec 31

Let's say that they begin the new job Jan 1st They're happy to be back at work .. then boom they get laid off again at the end of August, go to file again and find out they aren't monetarily eligible.

Why? They filed for benefits on Aug .. 21st.

The state establishes their base period as April 1st of the preceding year to March 31st of the current year. They weren't monetarily eligible in August because the base period only shows one quarter of earnings. If they had waited until Oct to file they would have had two quarters and if the had waited until Jan 1 they would have pulled in the wages from July and Aug up to the 21st.

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