People frequently turn to part-time work after losing their jobs in order to make ends meet. Even though working part-time will certainly result in a pay reduction, you may still be qualified for unemployment benefits while doing so. Find out how to apply for partial unemployment as well as what it is.
What Exactly Is Part-Time Employment?
Leslie Tayne, founder and chief lawyer at the debt relief law firm Tayne Law Group, explained the meaning of partial unemployment to The Balance in an email. “Partial unemployment is when an individual is working reduced hours, through no fault of their own, and is sometimes referred to as being ‘underemployed’,” she said. “The state will often cut compensation by a particular amount or percentage depending on the number of hours/days the claimant reports.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6 million Americans were working part-time in December 2020 as a result of fewer hours or a lack of full-time employment (BLS). Despite a sharp reduction from the peak of 10.9 million in April 2020, there are still a sizable number of people who do not have full-time jobs.
Who is qualified for partial unemployment compensation is determined by state legislation. If your present job’s hours were cut or if you’re working part-time and looking for new options, you may be qualified. In most circumstances, if a person willingly chooses to work part-time, they are not regarded as qualified.
What to Expect When Unemployed in Part
According to Tayne, “claimants who qualify for partial unemployment still need to certify their benefits each week with their state’s unemployment office, including documenting the number of days/hours worked in the prior week.”
The amount of your unemployment benefits is set by the state in which you reside and is often dependent on how much you earn now or have previously earned and how many hours you work each week. The amount you make from employment each week will normally be subtracted from the state’s determination of a fair weekly value.
According to Tayne, “each state is different. For instance, in New York, the person working part-time must earn $504 or less and work no more than 30 hours to be eligible for partial benefits.” Benefits are diminished in proportion to the number of hours a person worked each week. Therefore, the benefits of a person working 11 to 20 hours per week will be reduced by 50%. 3
Consult the rules for eligibility and benefits with the unemployment office in your state.
The benefits will end if you don’t certify your gross weekly pay. Additionally, since your certification is for the preceding week, you cannot certify in advance. The earliest you might certify is on Sunday, March 14, for the week of Sunday, March 7 through Saturday, March 13. Because failing to disclose wages could amount to fraud, there are harsh consequences if you wind up receiving more unemployment benefits than you are entitled to.
How to Apply for Partially Unemployed Status
Filing for regular or full-time unemployment follows the same procedure as filing for partial unemployment. Visit the website of your state’s Department of Labor to submit a new claim or determine your eligibility. According to Tayne, calling the organization directly is frequently easier than using the FAQ pages that are available for the majority of states.
If you need to speak to a live agent, try calling when you have some additional time, according to Tayne. “Call centers have had unusually high wait times since the epidemic started,” he said.
It is advisable to gather all required data before applying for partial unemployment, including your tax returns from the previous year, the places and dates of your prior employment, and the precise amount of your gross income.
Your earning potential may be constrained by partial unemployment, creating a catch-22 situation. If, for instance, your benefit amount is $300 per week and you make $350 per week working a part-time job, you have made too much money to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
If you wish to obtain part-time unemployment benefits, you are obliged by law to prove that you are actively seeking full-time employment. Benefits may be withheld if you don’t look for job and can’t demonstrate that you were actively looking during the week before you submit your claim.
It’s crucial to exercise patience while submitting your initial claim. It typically takes two to three weeks before you start getting benefits after your application is approved. Online filing is advantageous in this situation as well. You can enter into the system after creating an account to find out if there were any issues with a weekly certification.
Former President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 into law on December 27, 2020. Through March 14, 2021, it reauthorizes and extends federal pandemic unemployment benefits payments to unemployed and underemployed workers, providing an extra $300 per week in benefits. 4
“COVID-19 has lowered the standards for receiving unemployment benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic has made those who are self-employed, independent contractors, or gig workers eligible for pandemic unemployment assistance, according to Tayne. Independent contractors and workers who are self-employed are often not covered by standard unemployment insurance benefits.
How to Save Money While Unemployed in Part
Saving money and creating a budget for long-term unemployed while receiving partial unemployment benefits may be challenging, but it is not impossible. As soon as you can, Tayne advised, “start budgeting or make changes to your existing budget, and search for chances to minimize spending and enhance cash flow.”
She advises putting some money down each week into a savings account if your budget has extra money. At the end of the year, saving just $10 every week will amount to more than $500.
Additionally, pay your bills on time to prevent your credit score from declining. After you apply for unemployment, “it could be a good idea to contact lenders and explain that you’re having financial hardship due to the pandemic,” Tayne advised. While you will still be responsible for paying off your obligations, the lender may be able to help you in some other way, such as by waiving interest or late fees.