Federal Unemployment tax is imposed at a flat rate on the first $7,000 paid to each employee. The current FUTA tax rate is 6%, but most states receive a 5.4% “credit” reducing that to just 0.6%.

What is unemployment insurance?

The basic unemployment insurance program is operated by the states, although the US Department of Labor oversees the system. It provides up to 26 weeks of benefits to unemployed workers in most states, replacing around half of their previous wages, on average. Individual states supply most of the funding and pay for the actual benefits provided to workers. The federal government pays the administrative costs only. Although states should adhere to a few federal requirements, they can generally set their own eligibility criteria and benefit levels.

The unemployment insurance system (UI) supports many people who have lost their jobs by temporarily replacing part of their wages while they find work. It is a form of social insurance that was created in 1935, in which taxes collected from employers are collected into the system on behalf of working people that can serve as income support if employees lose their jobs.

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Insurance?

These are the qualifications for an individual to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits:

  1. must have lost his/her work through no fault of his or her own;
  2. must have the ability to work, the availability to work, and is actively seeking work; and
  3. must have earned a minimum amount during a “base period” before losing their job.

States apply these general criteria differently. For example, some states do not include part-time workers unless they are willing to undertake a full-time job, while other states allow these workers to qualify even if they are looking for another part-time job.  Also, states have the choice about the length of the base period of employment used to determine eligibility.

What benefits does unemployment insurance provide?

Workers can receive money from the state if they become employed, even if they live in a different state. The benefits provided will vary in two respects: the number of weeks that they last and the amount of money received by the person who is unemployed.

How do I know if my unemployment claim was approved?

If the unemployment claim was approved, recipients will receive their payments through a pre-paid debit card or direct deposit. Also, your claim will be marked as approved when you log into your unemployment portal. 

Once your application has been approved, the Department of Labor will give you a “monetary determination” with information on your weekly benefit amount.

After making the claim, it will take between two to three weeks to receive it. 

Delays are inevitable if the state needs additional information before sending payment to the recipient. If the status reads “pending” in the unemployment portal, this could be due to the fact that the state is taking time to review and process the application for benefits. If the payments are approved after a delay, recipients will receive back pay for all the weeks they missed due to the delay.

What to do when unemployment benefits are exhausted?

In most states, people who have exhausted their benefits for both regular unemployment benefits – and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) in some cases – could then qualify for a program called Extended Benefits. This federally funded program is set during periods of high unemployment within a state. 

You should automatically transition into EB (Extended Benefits) once you’ve run out of eligibility. The normal collection period for EB, which offers a weekly benefit equivalent to what you would typically be eligible for in your state based on your prior wages, is 13 weeks. However, it may vary in length based on the state in which you were employed. Just make sure to contact your state agency for any questions about your eligibility for EB.

How long does it take to reopen an unemployment claim?

It can take up to 10 days to reopen your claim if you have already opened an unemployment compensation claim within the past 12 months but then stopped filing for those benefits.

Things to remember when reopening an existing claim:

  1. Use the same username and password to log in: There’s no need to register for a new account.
  2. Claims are always effective on Sundays: If the claim is reopened from Monday to Saturday, the effective date is the preceding Sunday. But if you reopen it on a Sunday, the effective date is the same day.
  3. “Claims weeks” are always Sunday – Saturday: You will be asked questions about specific weeks, which refers to what happened from Sunday to Saturday.  Your employer’s week-to-week schedule may differ, but you must provide the information for Sunday to Saturday week to avoid delays.

How do I file an unemployment claim?

The filing process for new claims varies from state to state. Here’s what you need before you get started:

Personal Information:

  • SSN
  • Home address and mailing address (if different)
  • Telephone number
  • Valid email
  • UC System username and password, if already established
  • Direct deposit bank information (optional) – bank name, address, account and routing number.

In some cases, additional information is needed. You can research for and view the additional list of requirements that states require on their respective information centers.

Information about separating employers:

  • Employer’s name, address, and phone number
  • Employer’s PA UC account number (if known)
  • First and last day worked with the employer
  • Reason for leaving
  • Pension or severance package information (if applicable)

How do I know if I won my unemployment appeal?

After the hearing, the appeal tribunal will go over the testimony and the exhibits received at the hearing, determine how the unemployment insurance law applies to the facts, and release a written decision. The decision is typically delivered within two weeks, but if the matter is complicated, delays should be anticipated. The Appeal Tribunal Decision in instances involving unemployment taxes is typically released 45 days after the hearing. The parties and their representatives are given copies of the decision.

On the other hand, you can go online to view the status of any appeal in which you are involved within two to three weeks after submitting an appeal. You may find relevant information such as the filing date, the level of your appeal, and its current status.