This article was last updated on January 23
Received the following comments from some higher income people who have fallen into what I call the Unemployment Insurance Stimulus Hole (#UIShole). Yes, I know how it sounds and it is intentional because people who face this situation probably want to use a word that rhymes with #UIShole for the politicians that passed the enhanced unemployment provisions that allowed this hole in the legislation.
I am working half my hours now, make too much for state UI weekly max, still file my claim every week. I am still not making enough to cover my bills. Will I get the $600 per week because my hours are reduced (Christine)Part Time Workers getting UIC + $600
Has anyone determined if workers that are on partial furlough and are making too much on their reduced pay to qualify for unemployment will get the 600.00 anyway?
The Department of Labor (DOL) guidance is pretty clear that you have to qualify for a partial or nominal amount of UI compensation to qualify for the entire $600 weekly unemployment stimulus payment. Or as stated in the DOL guidance, even if the individual is eligible to receive at least one dollar ($1) of underlying benefits for the claimed week, the claimant will receive the full $600 FPUC.
So even though some workers are seeing a significant drop in income by having to work fewer hours due to a partial furlough or having to go part time, their income over the last year (or relevant qualifying period) in many states will still be far higher than the partial payment they could get from unemployment insurance. What can be more troubling to many is that if they do get a new job part time or go back to work in a reduced capacity, they could lose current enhanced benefits if their weekly wage goes above state thresholds.
Now many states, like PA and CA, offer Partial Unemployment Benefit Credits and provisions to offset the impacts of the part time unemployment hole, but in many higher income states this won’t make much of an impact. Also with the $600 stimulus payment now in play, many people who don’t qualify for even $1 of unemployment insurance won’t get this supplementary payment for the next four months it is in effect. Which could make them worse overall.
Here is an example based on a reader comment. California’s maximum state unemployment is $450 and has a provision (section 1279) where the first $25 or 25 percent (which is greater) of the wages allocated to a week will be disregarded in unemployment benefit calculations. The amount remaining (i.e., earnings over $25 or 75% of the earnings, whichever is smaller) is deducted from the claimant’s weekly benefit amount.
For example, if you earned $100 in a week, the CA EDD would not count the first $25 of your wages against your UI benefit and would only deduct $75 from your weekly benefit amount. So for someone who gets the maximum weekly benefit amount of $450, would be paid a reduced amount of $375.
So how much can I earn part time before losing all my UI benefits? Using the CA example, where the current maximum UI benefit is $450, the most you could earn per week is $600 ($400/0.75) before losing all UI benefits. Anyone earning more than $600 p/week or $32,000 per year would not be eligible for regular state unemployment and hence not eligible for the additional $600 FPUC payment.
You can see this article for more detail on part time income/UIC eligibility by state and also see some specific state unemployment pages to provide information on filing or checking the status of unemployment benefits – FL, CA, IL, TX, NJ, MA, CO, PA, NJ.
The recently approved CARES Act also has some additional programs designed to keep part-time workers entitled to assistance if their hours are cut for reasons due to Coronavrius or COVID-19. But you will need to file a claim and check with your state unemployment’s office to see how their part time provisions affect you. I will write more about these in an upcoming article. But feel free to share your thoughts below of let me know if I missed something.