Can You Collect Unemployment If You Work Part-Time?

How to Qualify for Partial Unemployment Benefits

Woman serving customer in coffee shop,
You may still be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are working at a part-time job. ColorBlind Images/Iconica/Getty Images

Can you work part-time if you’re collecting unemployment? You may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits even if you are currently working part-time. 

Unemployment benefits are designed to help workers temporarily bridge an income gap caused by a loss of employment due to no fault of their own. Some people find themselves with reduced hours, or only able to find part-time employment after being laid off, when they truly want and need full-time work.

Partial unemployment benefits are available to encourage workers to continue to work part-time while they seek full-time work.

Taking a part-time job while you are collecting unemployment can be beneficial to your long term job search. In every job you hold, even if it’s not in your chosen field, you will make contacts and gain skills. You can use the opportunity of part-time work to explore other fields, or to get training or experience that would be helpful to your career goals. You’ll likely earn more money by combining your partial unemployment benefits with income from a part-time job as well.

When you are working part-time while receiving unemployment benefits, it is important to report your weekly earnings accurately. It’s illegal, and considered fraud to collect benefits to which you are not entitled. 

Who Qualifies for Partial Unemployment Benefits

If you have chosen to scale back your work hours for family or personal reasons, you most likely will not qualify.

However, most states provide partial benefits to individuals whose work hours have been reduced through no fault or choice of their own.

Many states also cover employees who have lost their full-time job and have partially replaced the lost income with one or more part-time jobs. Some states cover individuals who were working two or more part-time jobs and lost one of the jobs.

Eligible workers need to meet state requirements for minimum earnings during the base period and minimum time of work. Generally, you must have worked for at least a year prior to filing for benefits. 

How Partial Unemployment Benefits Are Calculated

Most states will calculate the amount of your benefit by first figuring what you would be entitled to if you were fully unemployed.

The amount you are earning through part-time employment will be subtracted from this figure. Most states add a percentage, some as much as 25%, to the benefit amount as an incentive to maintain some income through part-time work.

You must be available for and actively seeking full-time work to qualify for partial benefits. Your state unemployment office can clarify the procedures for seeking employment and maintaining your eligibility.

Since requirements and benefits vary by state, check with your state's unemployment office for the precise information which is pertinent to your situation and for your location. In addition to providing information on unemployment benefits, the department of labor website for your state can direct you to information about job searching- including job postings, job fairs, job training, education and seminars.

Read More: Partial Unemployment Benefits

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