Unemployment Funds and Tax Cuts

Posted: August 14th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | 228 Comments »

As we know, many people (incorrectly) think that unemployment benefits are some kind of government handout, rather than the insurance policy they actually are. But where does the money come from in the first place?

Any business that has employees must pay into the corresponding state’s unemployment insurance fund; the amount owed is based on the employee’s salary and a percentage that varies depending on how full the fund is and how likely the business’ employees have been to collect from it. (If a business lays off a lot of employees and they collect benefits greater than the amount that has been paid into the fund, that business’s rates will go up.)

Unfortunately, before the recession many states decided to cut rates across the board prior to the recession; as a result, once the economic downturn hit the funds were already depleted. By 2007, states were $38 billion short of the recommended amount. Georgia, for example, had only $700 million in a fund that normally holds $2 billion. As a result, states have had to borrow from the federal government to pay benefits – they’ve taken out $43 billion in loans to cover the shortfall. (States are only on the hook for the first 26 weeks – extended unemployment benefits are paid by the federal government).

In some cases (like, again, Georgia) states are responding to the shortfall by cutting the length of time the state will pay for benefits; in the case of Georgia, the state will only pay for between 14 and 20 weeks’ worth of unemployment benefits, depending on the unemployment rate.

Tax Deadline Tuesday

Posted: April 14th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | 215 Comments »

If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you have a few more days; since April 15th is on Sunday this year, the deadline isn’t until Tuesday. You also have until then to request an extension, but remember that Tuesday is still the deadline to pay anything you owe.

Remember that any unemployment benefits you’ve received must be declared as income.

New Study: Unemployment Benefits Have Very Little Impact On Jobless Rate

Posted: September 24th, 2011 | Author: wmspringer | Filed under: Uncategorized | 219 Comments »

One Republican talking point is that unemployment benefits are a bad idea because they encourage people not to bother looking for work (apparently, Republicans believe that a number of people would rather live on a fraction of their normal salary while sending out resumes than getting a real job; how this supports the reality of many job applicants for every job opening, I have no idea)

A new paper by Jesse Rothstien, CU-Berkeley, investigates this theory and finds that the unemployment rate is between 0.2 and 0.6 points higher than it would be without extended unemployment benefits, due mainly to forcing those people to continue looking for work rather than giving up (at which point they would no longer be counted as unemployed, in spite of still not having found a job).

How to File for Unemployment in NY

Posted: September 6th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | 249 Comments »

As in many states, filing for unemployment benefits in NY state should be done online, where possible. Unlike other states, claims can only be filed on the website during a certain timeframe. You can file for unemployment from 7:30am to 7:30 pm Monday through Thursday and from 7:30am until 5pm on Friday. However, the site is open for almost the entire weekend: from 12:01am on Saturday to 7pm on Sunday.

One thing to watch out for: the NY Dept of Labor is very specific that only the person claiming unemployment can make the system; if you let anyone else use it for you, both of you can be convicted of fraud. The only exception is if you cannot access the system yourself, in which case you must be physically present with the other person every time they access the system for you.

If you became unemployed as a direct result of Hurricane Irene, you may be eligible for benefits even if you wouldn’t normally qualify; this is true only if you live or work in Albany, Clinton, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Nassau, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, Warren or Westchester county. You may qualify if you were injured in the disaster and became unable to work, if your workplace was damaged, or if you cannot get to your job because of the disaster; you qualify even if you had not yet started working. You can even qualify if you had a business that derived most of its income from areas affected by the disaster, and now have lost business as a direct result.

Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits are available in New York, and you have until the first day of 2012 to begin claiming them. A new claim is not needed; if you qualify for extended benefits, you can claim them in the normal way. New York offers a total of 86 weeks of unemployment benefits (the regular 26 weeks, plus 60 additional weeks). This is slightly less than the maximum 99 weeks available in some states, as the three month average unemployment rate is below 8%. You may qualify for extended benefits only if your initial claim for benefits was on or before June 20 of this year and you exhaust your regular benefits by Christmas; you then have until January 1st to begin claiming your extended benefits.  This is tier 1, which lasts for 20 weeks; if you enter tier 1 this year and exhaust your benefits by the end of the year, you have through June of 2012 to receive tier 2, which covers you for an additional twenty weeks (but you must have filed your initial claim by Feb 7 of this year). Finally, if you exhaust your tier 2 benefits this year (and filed your initial claim by Nov 8 of last year) then you can qualify for another 13 weeks of tier three; these are also good through June 10. There are no longer tier 4 benefits available in New York due to the state being below the 8.5% threshold; however, if you exhausted all of your tier 3 benefits by August 15th, you can continue to collect tier 4 until June 10th.

If you are completely out of emergency benefits, you may qualify for extended unemployment benefits; to qualify, your initial claim must have been filed by August 2nd, 2010, and you must begin claiming extended benefits by January 8 (which is also the last week that extended benefits will be paid).

In order to qualify for benefits in the first place, you must have worked and been paged wages for at least 2 calendar quarters in your base period and have been paid at least $1600 in one of those quarters. However, if you do not qualify by this method and received Worker’s Comp or volunteer firefighter’s benefits, then you may have an additional half year to show qualifying wagers. As in other states, you may only file if you lost your employment through no fault of your own, are able to work, and are actively seeking work. If you qualify, you should file your claim during the first week that you are at least partially unemployed, defined as having worked for fewer than four days (Monday through Sunday) and earning less than $405.

You can file for unemployment either online at the New York State Department of Labor website, or over the phone; if you file by phone, translation services are offered. If you have a disability, another person may help you, but you must be present. The phone number is (888) 209-8124 and is staffed from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday; outside of the state, call (877) 358-5306. If you have a hearing loss and another person is assisting you (including a relay operator), you should call (888) 783-1370. The best time to call is on Thursday or Friday afternoon. If using a TTY, you can call (877) 205-3119; service at this number is available only in English and Spanish.

If you suspect you have been overpaid, you may contact the overpayment unit at (800) 533-6600.

Ohio Job and Family Services: Unemployment Compensation

Posted: September 5th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | 209 Comments »

In Ohio, there was two ways to file for unemployment benefits: by phone or over the web. To file by phone, call 1-877-644-6562, or 1-888-642-8203 if using a TTY, Monday through Friday between 8am and 5pm according to the following schedule. When you call, press one for assistance with your application, two to file, three to respond to a statement you received in the mail; you can also stay on the line for assistance.

If your last name begins with the letter A through I, call on Monday.
If your last name begins with the letter J through L, call on Tuesday.
If your last name begins with the letter M through S, call on Wednesday.
If your last name begins with the letter T through Z, call on Thursday.

No matter what letters your name begins with, you may also call on Friday. Alternatively, you can file online 24 hours per day, seven days a week at http://unemployment.ohio.gov (although the system will be unavailable at some times for nightly updates). The process should take around 20-25 minutes; if you get disconnected, you can log back in within 24 hours and resume your application.

You’ll need the following information in order to file for unemployment in Ohio; you’ll want to have it available before beginning your application:

  1. Your social security number
  2. Your driver’s license number (or other state ID number)
  3. Your name, address, telephone number, and email
  4. Employment information (name, address, telephone of each employer, plus the dates you worked there) for the last six weeks that you were working
  5. The reason you left each position
  6. Names, social security numbers, and date of birth for any dependents
  7. Your spouse’s name, social security number, and date of birth (if applicable)
  8. Your job skills

If you are separated from military service, have worked for the federal government, or had out of state employment, you’ll need additional information.  If you worked for the federal government, you’ll need forms SF-8 or SF-50; if you worked for the military, form DD-214.

Once you’ve filed your claim, you will be contacted with further information. If you are filing online and need a PIN, call 1-866-962-4064 for assistance.

In Ohio, you should file for unemployment as soon as you become unemployed, even if you will be receiving pay. You cannot receive benefits for weeks prior to filing your claim.

You are eligible for benefits if your unemployment was not your fault; this could be before you were laid off (such as for lack of work), if you quit due to physical inability to do the work (and provided your employer with a medical statement to this effect, allowing them time to find other work for you). Note that pregnancy is considered a legitimate health condition that may have prevented you from completing your duties successfully, and thus does not, in itself, disqualify you from receiving benefits. If you were fired for cause, such as violating the rules of a company or neglecting your job responsibilities, then you are not eligible for benefits.  If you accepted a voluntary separation plan, you may or may not be eligible for benefits, depending on how the plan was structured.

The Ohio Department of Job & Family Services will contact your previous employers to confirm the information in your application. Providing incorrect information on an unemployment application is a violation of the law.