how will my part-time, advance-commission based life insurance sales job effect my unemployment compensation?
I have been laid off from my full-time job and plan to collect unemployment compensation until work starts up again (it is a seasonal layoff, I work in the construction industry, here in NY). I have recently started a business (I will receive 1099's from the different products/services that I sell. I do not have a dba or tax id number) that is commission based. I can earn commissions on a variety of products and services. Most of the commissions are advanced, and are not considered to be "earned" when I receive them. They are considered a loan and are labeled as "earned" when each premium is collected. so, for example, I could meet with a client for an hour on thursday of this week. I might sell them a life insurance policy that would provide me with $500 of commission pay. that $500 would be advanced to me next week. the commission is really considered earned when the client makes the monthly premium payment. so, it is really $500 divided by 12 months, and I will have earned 1/12 of that $500 when the policy is issued (maybe 3 weeks from now) and then, 1/12 of the $500 each month thereafter, when the policy is collected. if the client cancels, or lapses, I have to give back any of the "unearned" advance money. So, what do I have to claim as income when filing my claim, and is there a minimum amount I can receive without it affecting my benefit? and is there a minimum amount of time I can work before it affects my benefit? I've tried to call the NYS DOL to get answers on this, but I can't get a live person to talk to me.
Let's get the "New York partial unemployment question out of the way. NY has one of the more confusing formulas. You can find that formula in the DOL pdf I link to on the page about unemployment pay (opens in new window .. in case you need to
toggle back and forth)
Given your specific "pay/loan structure" I think it is crucial that you speak and document a phone conversation with someone at the NYDOL.
While we are collecting unemployment we are suppose to report earnings in the "week earned" .. not the week we receive the earnings. I suppose this is because we usually get paid after we earn our wages .. not at the time we earn them.
But your situation presents a rather unique pay situation .. doesn't it? I will tell you right now that if you receive and report $500 dollars in one week it will cancel any benefits for that week only because it's more than the max NY benefits.
When collecting partials the best we can hope for is to make our regular WBA plus the amount a state's formula "disregards" in earnings before reducing that WBA dollar for dollar in excess of the disregarded amount.
But I have actually had conversations with other people who have been smacked with denial letters due to not reporting earnings based on commissions because they waited to report the money until it was actually "earned".
The problem was that the company was reporting the advance when it was given as wages on their unemployment tax forms. Of course the states are working overtime on detecting fraud and trust me .. they drop the hammer much quicker when there is a question that allows suspension of benefits vs. allowance of benefits.
So my advice .. contact someone live at the state no matter what lengths you have to go to ..
Find out who you are talking to and write down their answers to your questions .. because it is not uncommon to receive opposing answers from two different people at the state and documentation never hurts .. in fact it's very helpful.
Since I think your question is general in nature though you might try emailing your question to the state. There is a list of email addresses for state agencies on this page including the unemployment department.