Unemployment benefits can be life-saving for those who are temporarily out of work due to company lay-offs, the end of a contract assignment or work reduction. This financial benefit is paid to qualifying recipients weekly as long as they are currently enrolled in their state’s unemployment program and have completed the necessary paperwork and/or requirements of the past week. It is important to note that unemployment benefits are distributed by state governments, not the federal government, which means the amount received and requirements for receiving it varies by state. In this post, we’ll attempt to address partial benefits on a broad level. However, make sure to research the particulars of your state’s unemployment insurance (UI) program for the most current and accurate answers to your questions.
Unemployment Programs Across States
The majority of state unemployment programs allow people to receive benefits for up to 26 weeks of unemployment or about six months. Florida has the shortest period of unemployment benefit eligibility at just 12 weeks. Second from the bottom is Arkansas, which allows 16 weeks of unemployment benefits.
The amount that recipients receive each week depends on several factors such as the number of dependents they care for, the amount they earned at their last job, and the average cost of living in their state. The states with the highest unemployment payment amounts are Massachusetts and Hawaii, which are among the most expensive states to live in. Louisiana and Mississippi offer the lowest unemployment payments at less than $200 a week on average.
Each state also has different requirements for deciding who is eligible to receive benefits. Most commonly, people are eligible for unemployment benefits if they have worked for a paycheck in their current state in the past year, if they have lost their most recent job at no fault of their own, and if they are actively seeking (and able to accept) new jobs and regular wages.
Can You Collect Unemployment While Working Part-Time?
Apart from those who are fully unemployed, people who are underemployed are also eligible for unemployment benefits in most states. Underemployment describes employees who are seeking full-time work but have only been able to secure part-time work.
When applying for unemployment benefits, and while currently receiving benefits, it is very important to report your part-time work to the state. If you fail to do so, you could be cited for unemployment fraud and may become ineligible for benefits altogether. To report your part-time wages, most states’ weekly unemployment claim forms will include a section that asks whether you have worked in the previous week, how many hours you worked, and how much you earned.
In most cases, if you have worked fewer than 30 hours in the week and earned less than your maximum weekly unemployment payment, you can receive benefit payments alongside your part-time earnings. Your weekly benefit amount will be less than the full amount you receive when not working at all. However, your earnings added together with the smaller benefit amount will be more than you’d receive from unemployment only. Each state has a different way of calculating this.
For example, some states subtract 60% of your weekly part-time earnings from the amount you receive normally. Let’s say you usually receive $400 a week in unemployment benefits. Then, during one week, you work part-time and earn $100. The state subtracts 60% ($60) from your benefit amount so that you still receive $340 in benefits. Adding your earnings and your benefits together, you’ll have received $440 that week, more than you would have received in benefits only.
Unemployment and Temp Work: Dos and Don’ts
Do accept part-time work when you have the opportunity to do so.
Do report your hours worked and wages earned in your weekly unemployment claims.
Do report wages earned through self-employment and other sources of income.
Don’t stop looking for full-time work when you begin to work part-time. This could result in a loss of eligibility for benefits.
Don’t wait until you’ve been paid for part-time work to report wages in your unemployment claims. If you’re not sure how much you expect to earn from work in the past week, you can estimate.
Do report part-time work every week that you work, not just in the week you begin.
Don’t stop filing unemployment claims if you’ve worked less than 30 hours a week. You can usually still receive benefits!
Do seek out part-time work that is related to the industry you want to join as a full-time worker. If you’re having trouble landing your ideal full-time job, part-time work experience in the ready field can give your resume the boost it needs!
Do include part-time experiences on your resume.
The short answer is, you most likely can continue to receive partial unemployment benefits even while working part-time, though your benefit amount will likely be reduced. Unemployment benefit policies vary across states because these programs are administered on a state level. However, in most cases, you can receive unemployment benefits while still working less than 30 hours a week and earning a weekly amount less than your maximum weekly unemployment benefits.
When you work part-time and file for unemployment insurance benefits you can bring in more money than you would from working part-time without benefits or from receiving weekly benefits and not working at all. Importantly, you do need to be available for full-time work to meet eligibility requirements and receive benefits. If you work part-time and must care for family members or have another obligation during the rest of the week, you are likely not eligible for unemployment. Alongside this, you should continue to seek out full-time employment and report your job search progress in your weekly claims, even while working part-time.
Finally, it is necessary to accurately report your part-time work in the weekly unemployment insurance (UI) claims you file with your state agency. If you fail to do so, state officials may find out through your employer’s filings that you have been employed and could cite you for unemployment fraud.
Part-time work may not be your ideal situation but it can be a stepping stone to full-time employment. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn new skills and make new connections. Best of luck on the job hunt!