How we calculate benefits
If you qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits, the amount of money you'll get each week is called your weekly benefit rate (WBR). This amount will depend on how much you earned in the base year period before you applied for Unemployment Insurance benefits.
There are other factors that may reduce your WBR, like whether you are working part-time or collecting a pension.
Note: To be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits in 2019, you must have earned at least $172 per week (a base week) during 20 or more weeks in covered employment during the base year period, or you must have earned at least $8,600 in total covered employment during the base year period. For more information, click here.
The weekly benefit rate is capped at a maximum amount based on the state minimum wage. For 2019, the maximum weekly benefit rate is $696. We will calculate your weekly benefit rate at 60% of the average weekly wage you earned during the base year, up to that maximum. We determine the average weekly wage based on wage information your employer(s) report.
If after we calculate your weekly benefit rate, you realize that we did not include wages because they were not reported by your employer(s), contact us for a monetary review. You will need to provide pay stubs as proof of your earnings.
For workers who don't qualify with a standard base year, we have other ways of calculating a base year. Click here for more information on these alternate base years, including if you are filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits after a period of disability.
The maximum benefit amount is the "balance" of benefits/funds potentially available to you based on your weeks worked and wages earned before you filed.
We calculate this amount as follows: Maximum Benefit Amount = the number of weeks you worked in the base period (up to 26) * your weekly benefit rate
Example 1: Steve worked 20 weeks during the base year period. His weekly benefit rate is $200. His maximum benefit amount will be $200 times 20 weeks = $4,000.
Example 2: Rebecca worked 50 weeks during the base year period, and is entitled to a maximum 26-week claim at a weekly benefit rate of $300. Her maximum benefit amount will be $300 x 26 = $7,800.
The maximum anyone can receive, regardless of how many weeks they worked during the base year or how much they earned, is 26 times the maximum weekly benefit rate. Right now, the maximum total benefit amount any one claimant can receive during their annual claim period is $18,096 ($696 x 26). The annual claim period, or benefit year, is 365 days from the date of your claim.
If you return to work before you collect all the benefits in your claim, and then become unemployed again before the one-year anniversary of your claim, you should immediately reopen your claim. We do not need to recalculate your weekly benefit rate in this case – it remains the same.
Whether or not you have collected all the benefits in your claim, we stop paying benefits after one year has passed from the initial date of your claim. If after this one-year anniversary you are unemployed, you need to file a new claim because we have to recalculate your weekly benefit rate based on the new base year period.
In order to qualify for a new claim, you must have worked for a certain amount of time before you apply again. You need to have worked at least four weeks and earned six times your last claim's weekly benefit rate in covered employment. You must also meet all other eligibility rules. We need all of this information to see if you are once again eligible for benefits.
Click here to use our online tool to estimate your potential weekly benefit and maximum benefit amounts.
If your work hours were reduced, but not completely cut, you may still be able to collect Unemployment Insurance benefits.
NOTE: When claiming benefits, you must report your part-time wages when earned, even if you have not yet been paid.
How we calculate partial Unemployment Insurance benefits
When you claim your weekly benefit, you will let us know if you worked that week. We will ask how many hours you worked and how much you earned (gross) for that week.
To be eligible for partial benefits, you cannot work more than 80 percent of the hours normally worked in the job. For example, if you worked a 40-hour week, you won't be able to get benefits if you work more than 32 hours. If your employer offers additional hours that you choose not to accept, your benefits may be affected.
For any wages earned from any employer:
- If you earn 20 percent or less of your weekly benefit rate from an employer, you can still receive your full benefit amount for that week. However, we will not pay you more than your weekly benefit rate.
- Here's an example, using a weekly benefit rate (WBR) of $500. Let's say you worked a few days one week and earned $300. For $500, partial weekly benefit rate (PWBR) is $600. Partial weekly benefit rate PLUS 20 percent. You would receive $300 as your unemployment benefit for this week. Your PWBR minus your earnings of $300 equals $300.
- Let's take a look at another example. Let's say that one week you worked a few hours and earned $50. For a $500 WBR, your partial benefit rate is $600. $600 minus $50 equals $550. However, since we will never pay more than your WBR, which is $500, your benefit for this week $500. We're not penalizing you (cutting your benefits) because you were able to squeak out some more hours while you were collecting unemployment. We want to get you in the door to work even a little bit, since that's a step toward full reemployment.
- If you earn more than 20 percent of your weekly benefit rate from an employer in a given week, your partial weekly benefit payment will be reduced dollar-for-dollar for all gross wages earned that week.
- For example, if your weekly benefit rate is $200, your partial weekly benefit rate is $240 (20 percent more than $200.) If you earn $50 (gross) during a week, you would receive $190 in unemployment insurance benefits ($240 – $50 = $190).
- Report your gross earnings and all hours worked for the week in which they were earned, not when they are paid.
- If you worked on Election Day for a county Board of Elections, you do not have to report these earnings. Money earned from Election Day work does not reduce your weekly Unemployment Insurance benefit.