FAQ Friday – How can someone be working and still collect unemployment insurance?

A: That’s right – if you are working reduced hours, you may be able to still potentially collect unemployment insurance benefits, depending on how much you earn.

How much you can earn and still collect benefits depends on two things: 1) your unemployment benefit amount and 2) how much money you earn. Let’s figure it out.

First, multiply your weekly benefit amount by 1.5.  Keep this magic number handy.

Next, calculate how much you earned that week – Sunday through Saturday.  Here is the important part – use gross wages (before taxes) for the week you work, even if you don’t get paid until later.  Don’t fudge this number!  If you can’t get the exact amount, use an estimate or get help from your employer and then call us when you get it.  Incorrect earnings will be discovered during an audit and could result in fraud.

Next, let’s calculate your weekly unemployment payment.

Are your earnings more than the magic number (weekly benefit amount times 1.5). If so, you earned too much to receive unemployment insurance benefits for the week.  If not, subtract your earnings from the magic number.  If the amount left is over your regular benefit amount, you may receive your full payment.  If it is less, that is the amount you receive in partial benefits. The money you don’t receive that week stays in your account, potentially extending your benefits.

And like other claimants, you still need to look for and accept other work opportunities even though you are working part time.

TIP: Report your earnings, even if you know you are still going to get a full payment.  Also, earnings don’t have to be from an employer. They could be cash for fixing a friend’s car, room and board in exchange for housekeeping, self-employment or compensation from the National Guard or Reserve.