What Are Partial Unemployment Benefits?

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Depending on location, an unemployed worker may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits if they work less than a full week and earn under a certain amount of money.

Eligibility for Partial Unemployment Benefits

Partial unemployment benefits are available to both unemployed and part-time employees. Most people who collect unemployment are out of work, but partial unemployment benefits allow those who are still working to claim aid as well.

If your hours have been reduced or you are working part time and cannot find additional work, you may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits.

There are several circumstances that may make a person eligible for assistance:

  • A worker may be underemployed or working part time as the only alternative to being laid off or made redundant.
  • A person who lost their full-time job or even one of two part-time jobs and was only able to find part-time or temporary work may also meet the requirements to receive benefits.

Eligibility for partial unemployment benefits are determined by state law. Although benefit eligibility varies, most states agree that a worker who voluntarily chooses to cut back on hours or work part time is not eligible for partial unemployment benefits.

Requirements for Collecting Benefits

The type of employment and number of working hours are not the only determinants for partial unemployment benefits.

Depending on the state, you must meet a minimum earning level or a certain number of hours worked before eligible.

These requirements are usually the same for all types of unemployment benefit initiatives. Finally, a person must be ready and able to work more hours. Childcare, education, or other voluntary reasons to reduce working hours are not sufficient reasons to seek partial unemployment benefits.

Determining Your Benefit

Each state will determine your benefit payout based on several determining factors. Many state unemployment agencies have online calculators for eligible individuals to get an idea of their potential benefit. Typically, the state determines a reasonable, sustainable, weekly value and then subtracts the amount you are already working each week.

Many states will allow benefit seekers to keep some of what they earn without reducing their benefit payout to encourage employment. The difference between the state’s initial determined value and your wages is your weekly partial unemployment benefit.

When a claimant receives partial benefits the unemployment claim will be extended until the claimant receives the maximum benefit amount determined by the state, or until the benefit year ends, whichever occurs first. 

Where Does the Benefit Come From?

Unemployment benefits are issued by each State Agency that focuses on employment. Both partial and regular unemployment benefits are funded by the employing company’s state tax withholdings based on employee wages. In other words, a fixed percentage of each employee’s wages are paid by the company.

While employers are not necessarily charged for unemployment benefits after the fact, they are notified when an employee files for an unemployment benefit.

This is to prevent fraud by giving the employer the opportunity to contest the claim in the case of misconduct, termination, or a change in roles. Employees cannot be fired for filing a partial unemployment claim.

Check with your state unemployment office website for information on partial unemployment benefits in your location.

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