For Immediate Release: July 8, 2019
Information Contact: Joshua McKenna, (208) 332-3570 ext. 3919
The Idaho Department of Labor is holding public meetings about rule changes to Idaho Administrative Rules regarding unemployment insurance benefits.
The number of out-of-work, college-educated Idahoans leaving the state appears to be declining, but more are moving elsewhere than unemployed college-educated workers coming to Idaho from other states, based on interstate unemployment insurance claims.
Over 200 Idaho workers with college degrees or higher were receiving unemployment payments in other states at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 while about 50 workers with degrees from other states were collecting benefits in Idaho.
Q. Are unemployment insurance benefits taxable?
A. Yes. Unemployment insurance benefits are fully taxable, and you are required to file a tax return for payments received or repaid.
Q. What do I need from the Idaho Department of Labor to file my taxes?
A. If you collected or repaid unemployment insurance benefits, you’ll receive a summary of the benefits you received by the end of January. This form, otherwise known as an IRS form 1099-G, will be sent to your last known address. It’s your responsibility to make sure the Idaho Department of Labor has the most recent and correct address. If your address has changed, go to labor.idaho.gov/iw and update it, even if you are no longer filing. IMPORTANT: YOUR 1099-G WILL INCLUDE YOUR ENTIRE SOCIAL SECUIRTY NUMBER, AS REQUIRED BY THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE. FAILURE TO UPDATE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS COULD RESULT IN YOUR 1099-G GOING TO THE WRONG ADDRESS AND PUT YOUR IDENTITY AT RISK.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on July 3, 2017, to clarify content under Invalid Contacts.
If you are unemployed and collecting benefits you are now required to make and report two valid contacts with potential employers each week for full-time work. Not sure what counts as a valid contact? Read on:
• Asking someone with hiring authority about employment opportunities and submitting an application when the employer is not accepting applications or resumes. If you list this as a valid contact and the company says they aren’t hiring but would gladly accept an application, then we expect you to submit an application.
• Applying for positions in a very specialized area. The department does not dictate what type of work you must apply for as long you are able to find and report at least two contacts per week, you meet our requirement. If you are looking for specialized work and exhaust your opportunities in that field, you must expand your job search.
Q. I am a federal worker who was furloughed under the federal shutdown. I have since returned to work and learned that I would be paid for the time I was off. Do I need to report this for unemployment?
A. Yes, this is considered back pay and reportable for unemployment for the week covered by the payment. Please contact us at 332-8942 to have this corrected.
Q. Will this result in an overpayment?
A. It could. If you are a federal employee who claimed benefits during the federal shutdown, you will be sent a letter advising you to call us at (208) 332-8942 to report your income during the period of time you were claiming benefits. If an overpayment results, you will be sent another letter with specific overpayment and repayment information. You may send the repayment to:
Idaho Department of Labor
317 Main St
Boise ID 83735-0730
Q. Can I make a payment over the phone?
A. Yes, we accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Access Idaho charges a 3% handling fee if you pay with a credit card or a flat rate of $2.50 for E-checks. Please call 1-800-672-5627 or (208) 332-3573
Q. I want to cancel my claim since I returned back to work. What do I need to do?
A. You may not need to withdraw your claim. If you simply stop filing your weekly report, the claim will go inactive on its own after two weeks of non reporting. If you would, however, like your claim removed from our system, you must submit a letter asking us to withdraw the claim. It must be signed with a handwritten signature (an email signature is not acceptable). You would be responsible for repaying any benefits received on the claim.
Q. Is there any reason I need to keep my address current in your system?
A. Yes. We will mail important overpayment and year-end tax information.
Read the earlier blog post on furloughed federal workers and unemployment benefits here.
Unemployment insurance Information for furloughed federal workers about the 2018 federal government shutdown can be found here.
• • •
Unemployment Benefit Information for Federal Employees Who are Back at Work
• • •
Q. I am a federal worker who has been furloughed. Am I eligible for unemployment?
A. You are eligible to file for unemployment insurance compensation. You would need to meet personal and monetary eligibility, but would be considered laid off due to lack of work.
Q. How do I file for benefits?
A. You must file online at labor.idaho.gov/iw. We do not file claims over the telephone. If you do not have Internet access or need help filing online, you may file at your nearest local Idaho Department of Labor office. If you are filing a claim against Idaho, but live in another state, you may also file your claim online at labor.idaho.gov/iw.
After you have successfully filed your initial claim, you will file your weekly continued claim reports at labor.idaho.gov/cc. You may want to check out these helpful videos. ow.ly/pEO6P ow.ly/i/3nvw0
Q. When should I file for benefits?
A. To use the current week as your waiting week, file this week, by Saturday at midnight.
Q. What if I don’t have a computer or Internet access?
A. We have computers available in all of our local offices. Twenty-three of the 25 department local offices are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday. The Wood River office in Bellevue is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and closed Thursday and Friday. The Soda Springs office is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closed Friday.
Q.What information do I need in order to file?
A. You will need your work history information for the past two years including: employer names, addresses, phone numbers, supervisors and dates of employment; your current contact information; your driver’s license or state ID number and work authorization information, if applicable; and bank account information if you choose direct deposit to receive your payments. Once you gather all of the information, filing a claim online should take about 30 minutes. Copies of your leave and earning statements are not necessary.
Q. Do I have to look for work if I file for unemployment benefits?
A. Yes. If you do not have a definite return to full-time work date, you must apply for jobs. You must make at least two job contacts per week and keep record of your contacts.
Q. When I file my claim, what option should I choose as my reason for separation from the federal government?
A. If you are unemployed because of the federal government shutdown, please select “laid off due to lack of work” for your separation reason.
Q. What should we put in the “approximate date to start full-time work” section?
A. When you file your online application, you will be asked if you have a definite date to return to full time work. If your employer has provided you this date, select yes and enter the date. If not, answer no to this question. If your employer has not provided you a return to full-time work date, you will be required to seek work (see the ‘Do I have to look for work?’ question above.
Q. I am about to be furloughed. The employer has given me the option of using my accrued vacation pay while we are shut down. Can I still collect unemployment if I don’t use my vacation pay?
A. Yes. For unemployment insurance purposes, you are not required to use vacation pay.
Q. If I chose to use vacation pay, can I collect unemployment insurance?
A. It depends on how much you are paid in vacation. If your vacation pay is an amount that is one and a half times your unemployment insurance weekly benefit payment amount, it is not a compensable week — meaning you received too much money for an unemployment insurance payment or waiting week credit that week. In order to be eligible for benefits, you must also be fully available for work. It is important that you remain available for work and express your availability for work to your employer, even though you have elected to be paid vacation.
Q. When will we (federal employees) who claimed 9/30 as the last day work get the first check?
A. If you applied for benefits this week, it would be your first week of unemployment and potentially serve as your waiting week (see waiting week criteria above). The next week would be your second week of unemployment and the first potential payable week. Payment is normally available within three to four business days after Waiting Week and First Payment. If you signed up for direct deposit, payment is normally available within four business days of filing your weekly report. If you did not sign up for direct deposit, you will be mailed a debit card. Normally people receive this debit card 7-10 business days after filing their 2nd weekly report. After you receive your debit card, payment will then normally be available within four business days of filing your weekly report.
Q. I received a letter from the unemployment office titled “monetary determination” and it shows that my weekly eligibility amount is $ .00 and my maximum benefit amount is $ .00. Does this mean I do not receive any unemployment while I am furloughed?
A. If you are a federal employee, your wages are not immediately available to us when you file your claim. We have to request your wage information from the federal government. When you file a claim, you will be sent a letter called a monetary determination stating you are eligible for $0 with an explanation there are wages pending from the federal government. Once we receive wage information, we will send you a second monetary determination with the wage information they reported to us. Despite the federal shutdown, we are getting responses to wage requests. It is important you continue filing your weekly reports at www.labor.idaho.gov/cc, while you wait for your new monetary determination. If you have filed your weekly reports and are otherwise eligible, you will be sent payments for compensable weeks filed once we receive your wage information. It can take up to three weeks to receive your wage information. If your monetary determination did not state that federal wages are pending, please call us at 208-332-8942.
Q. Once the shutdown is over, if the federal government pays us for our time away from work, is this income reportable? And if so, how should I report my income?
A. Yes. This income is reportable. It would be treated as back pay and reportable for the weeks you were furloughed and could likely create an overpayment. When you receive payment, call us at 208 332-3842 to inform us of your back pay. If you have been paid any unemployment benefits, you will be required to repay those benefits.
Q. Are unemployment insurance benefits taxable?
A. Yes. Unemployment benefits are treated as taxable income. When you file your claim, you will have the option to have either 10% or 0% federal taxes withheld from your payment. If you have to repay benefits, you will have to repay the gross amount however, as we are unable to recoup the 10% for you. You will receive a 1099G at the end of the year with your tax information.
Q. How do I cancel my claim once I return to work?
When you return to work, simply stop filing your weekly reports. Once you haven’t filed for two consecutive weeks, your claim will go inactive. Even though you are no longer claiming, be sure to keep your contact information up to date to receive year-end tax information
For additional questions, contact an unemployment staff member at (208) 332-8942 or visit labor.idaho.gov/uitips
Here are some quick answers to questions about unemployment insurance benefits:
Do I have to seek work each week?
It depends. You MUST comply with the work-seeking require ments you received when you ﬁled your claim. You will be required to either contact employers in your labor market each week that hire people for the type of work you are seeking or maintain contact with the employer for whom you are returning to work.
You must keep track of your work search including employers, their addresses and phone numbers, dates and names of contacts, method of contact, the type of work you sought and results of the contact.
A work search record form is available on the Labor website
What is a valid work search contact?
Your obligation while receiving unemployment beneﬁts is to become re-employed, and you should develop a realistic plan to achieve this objective. Unless otherwise speciﬁed in your work search plan, you are required to make a good faith effort to seek full-time work each week that you claim beneﬁts, even if you are employed part time.
Unless otherwise speciﬁed in your work search plan, you must make at least two contacts per week while you are receiving beneﬁts or you may be denied those beneﬁts. You can make a contact online, in person, by mail, email or over the phone.
All contacts must be made with a person who has hiring authority, and written applications must be ﬁled where accepted. A friend or relative who works for the company you are applying for is not a valid contact.
Contacts must be for wage work. Self-employment or independent contract work contacts are not valid. The same employer(s) may not be used for required contacts in consecutive weeks.
An online contact is only valid if it results in an online application being completed or a résumé being submitted. Simply searching websites such as careerbuilder.com or monster.com is not valid.
You may find our Valid Work Search Contact publication helpful.
How will I know if I am required to look for work?
Unless otherwise speciﬁed, you are required to look for work. If you are asked, ‘Did you look for work as agreed to in your work search plan?’ on your weekly report, you are required to make at least two contacts per week. Never assume that you are not required to look for work. Call your us at (208) 332-8942 if you have questions regarding your work search requirements.
How can the Idaho Department of Labor help me find a job?
Help is available at no charge at any of our 25 Department of Labor ofﬁces or you can access our job information on the Labor website. Workshops on resume writing, interviewing and more are available. Check the calendar for specific dates.
Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November dropped below 7 percent for the first time in three and a half years as more than a thousand idled workers found new jobs. Thirty-six of the 44 counties posted declines in their jobless rates from October and all but Custer County had rates lower than a year ago.
The two-tenths of a percentage point decline statewide to 6.8 percent marked the sixth time in 13 months the jobless rate has fallen by more than a single tenth. The last time the rate was lower was March 2009. The post-recession high was 8.9 percent in July 2011.
Total employment was up 1,500 from October to over 722,200, the highest total since mid-2008 and 14,000 ahead of a year ago, as employers maintained payrolls at a stronger pace than normal for November. The number of workers without jobs fell 1,800 to below 52,400, down over 13,000 from a year ago.
But more than 300 workers dropped out of the labor force in November. It was the sixth straight month the state’s workforce has declined, essentially returning to the level it was in November 2011.
Idaho’s two-tenths of a point decline in the unemployment rate matched the national rate decline to 7.7 percent in November. Idaho’s rate has been below the national rate since September 2001.
Regular unemployment insurance benefit payments totaled $13.4 million in November paid to an average of 10,800 idled workers a week. That was down 19 percent from November 2011, and the number of claimants had fallen over 22 percent. In addition $8.3 million in federal extended benefits was paid to an average of 6,800 workers a week, about half the federal payments made a year earlier. The number of people claiming claimants extended benefits was down 42 percent.
Employers are hiring again, but the pace is slow. The 14,000 new hires Idaho businesses reported in November were almost exclusively for filling vacancies created by firings, retirements or other reasons. At their current pace, employers will hire just over 180,000 workers this year, essentially matching their hires during 2008, the first year of the recession.
In its November report, the Washington, D.C.,-based Conference Board, a business think tank, estimated there were just over two jobless workers for every job posting in Idaho. While still extremely competitive, the employment picture has significantly improved from late 2009 when nearly five unemployed workers vied for every job posting.
Read the full report here
Everyone who files for unemployment insurance in Idaho is required to serve one waiting week and will not receive benefits for that week.
A waiting week reflects an unpaid week when you successfully file your weekly report and meet all the eligibility requirements for receiving unemployment insurance.
People who file for unemployment insurance are required to serve only one waiting week per benefit year, which is a calendar year from the date you file your claim. Once you serve your waiting week – even if you are laid off several times a year – you won’t serve a waiting week each time.
Sometimes people hear the ‘waiting week’ and think that means they are supposed to wait a week until filing their initial claim or a weekly report. Help us abolish this myth and DO NOT WAIT to file. If you don’t file, your waiting week is not counted as served and will only further delay the date you receive a benefit payment.
It is possible to work a partial week and still have that count toward your waiting week, however if you earn more than 1½ times your weekly benefit amount, that week does not qualify as a waiting week. If this happens, the next week reported on your claim that meets all eligibility requirements will be counted as your waiting week.
Why is there such a thing as a waiting week? One reason was to reduce costs of the program or restore stability to a depleted UI trust fund. Another reason is to provide administrative convenience. Some states, such as Wisconsin and Kentucky have adopted a waiting week just within the last few years. Most states do not have waiting periods over one week.
People who claim benefits when they aren’t eligible are required to repay any and all overpayments in full, with a penalty assessed if the overpayment was due to fraud.
The department is very aggressive about collecting overpayments. If the claimant is employed, the department will garnish their wages. Yes – this means their new employers will discover they owe us money.
Other steps include garnishing the spouse’s wages, filing an administrative lien on personal property such as vehicles or private property, and seizing bank accounts and tax refunds.
Collection activity is a lot of work, but worth the investment. Allowing improperly paid benefits to stay uncollected isn’t fair to the many unemployed people who play by the rules. Collection efforts also help prevent employers from paying unnecessary taxes for benefits.
Bottom line: Collecting benefits when you shouldn’t isn’t worth the pain of having to pay them back ─ with penalties and interest.