You can file for unemployment payments if you are not working full-time and meet other requirements. Each state runs an employment program, usually under the name Unemployment Compensation (UC) or Unemployment Insurance (UI). You may qualify for temporary UI or UC payments as long as you meet your state’s requirements.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) was a program that expanded unemployment benefits to individuals who typically would not qualify. For instance, PUA unemployment eligibility requirements added self-employed workers, independent contractors, and freelancers for a short period.
Although each state sets its unemployment claim regulations, most follow the same basic requirements. Most state unemployment agencies verify the following:
1. You worked for an employer that the government requires to pay unemployment tax.
The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) requires most employers to pay federal and state unemployment tax that funds unemployment claims. This tax is not deducted from employees’ paychecks, although the amount employers pay depends on their employees’ payroll.
Your employer pays FUTA if you earn more than $1,500 in any calendar quarter. The tax is six percent of the first $7,000 you and each of your coworkers earn. So, your employer would pay $420 for each of its workers who made at least $7,000.
State unemployment taxes can reduce an employer’s FUTA rate. The minimum FUTA an employer can pay for a worker is $42 (or 0.6 percent). State unemployment tax rates range from two to five percent.
2. The reason for separating from your previous job was not your fault.
For an unemployment claim, you must be unemployed or working less than full-time hours through no fault of your own. You might not qualify for UI or UC payments if you were fired for misconduct.
Here are some examples of valid work separation reasons:
· Company layoffs
· Reduction of hours or wages
· Fired for reasons other than misconduct, like weak job performance
· Quitting for a good cause, such as unsafe working conditions
Each state specifies different acceptable reasons for job separation. Your previous employer can contest your claim to persuade the state to rule against you.
3. You have a sufficient work history and earn enough income during that period.
Most states consider the first four of the five most recently completed calendar quarters as your “base period.” You must have worked in enough calendar quarters and earned more than the state’s minimum wage requirement during your base period.
The state may consider your “base period” as the immediate 12 months before your employment separation or the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. For instance, if you applied for unemployment insurance online on November 7, the last five full calendar quarters start on July 1 of the previous year.
Once approved, you must make an unemployment weekly claim to continue to receive benefit payments. Your state typically sends an unemployment direct deposit to your benefits card or bank account or a check to your address for each week you qualify.
Most states let you make an unemployment weekly claim for up to 26 weeks while you look for new work. You can only apply for an unemployment extension during a federal or state government-declared emergency or if you meet other conditions, such as gaining employment.
During the 26 weeks, you must generally be actively searching for and able to accept reasonable work. Your state agency may have additional requirements, like registering for work, taking job training, or submitting proof of application submission. You can lose your benefits if you no longer meet the weekly qualifications.
Unemployment benefit amounts depend on where you live and how much you earn while employed. Some states set caps or maximum award amounts.