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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Unemployment Insurance - Revised Article

Questions that we received from various people indicate that there is general misunderstanding of what Unemployment Benefits are all about. For the benefit of those of you who were never exposed to the subject we put a summary below. Please notice that Unemployment Insurance (UI) was put together to help workers who lost their job mitigate the financial effects of job loss.

There is no shame and there should be no stigma associated with claiming what is legally and rightfully yours. Even of you were not aware, UI was part of your overall compensation package since the first day of your employment.

If you are not working but looking for work, you qualify.

A summary of some key points.

Last Day Worked This is when Unemployment Insurance starts counting, and you will be paid from this week forward.  

Last Paycheck Date Irrelevant! Unemployment Office ignores this. The Last Day Worked is most important.

If you were walked out (ISP), but your last paycheck is a month later, then your Last Day Worked is the day you were walked out.
Start A Claim
The process to get into the system. Follow the steps, and stay on it to get qualified. If you miss some of the steps, such as the Workforce interview, and it has to go to a review it can be 6-8 weeks at present until a review will finish and give you back pay.

Weekly Claim
Sunday the claim system opens for the previous week. Then you must submit what work searches you did. At the end of the current week, they pay you for the previous week.

These are mostly for Oregon, other states will have their own rules and procedures.

What is asked for

You will be asked for your online Weekly Claims or if you are talking to a benefits worker for your job search information.  These are usually the fields they need, and it is easy to track in a spreadsheet.

Date Employer Address Contact By Contact Name Work Sought Results App/Resume

Results = most often are pending, which means nothing heard back

Work Sought = the Job Title or Description, or Job ID at the company

Address = The Unemployment Office may ask for the street address.

Contact By = Email, Website, Job Fair, Recruiter

Contact Name = If a Recruiter, then use their name and address

App/Resume = Good idea to list here the version of your Resume and Cover Letter you submitted. This is mostly for your use

Background Information

Financing the Unemployment Insurance Program 
The money used to pay Oregon unemployment insurance benefits comes from Oregon employers’ state payroll taxes. The taxes collected are deposited in a trust fund used to pay unemployment insurance benefits to unemployed Oregon workers.

The money to administer the unemployment insurance program comes from a federal tax, created by the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). The federal unemployment tax is assessed on all for-profit employers and is paid to the Internal Revenue Service.

Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)
In addition to Oregon’s unemployment tax, employers pay a federal unemployment tax (FUTA tax) based on payroll. The FUTA tax is collected by the Internal Revenue Service to fund the administrative costs of the employment service and unemployment insurance programs throughout the country

Unemployment Insurance benefits replace part of the income lost when a person becomes unemployed. This softens the impact job losses have on communities. Workers maintain purchasing power to support businesses in the area where they live. Qualifying A claim is based on a one-year period known as the base year. The base year is the first four of the last five calendar quarters completed at the time the initial claim is filed.

There are two ways to qualify: 
  • First: claimants qualify if they have employment and wages of at least $1,000 in employment subject to unemployment insurance law AND total base year wages equal to at least one and one-half times the wages in the highest quarter of the base year. or
  • Second: if an individual does not qualify the first way, a person may qualify for benefits if he or she has wages and worked at least 500 hours during the base year of employment subject to unemployment insurance law.
Benefit amounts are set by law as a percentage of the wages received during the base year. The weekly benefit amount is 1.25% of the total base year wages but with a fixed lower limit of 15% and an upper limit of 64% of the state average weekly wage in covered employment. A claim lasts for 52 weeks that make up the benefit year. This is the 12-month period beginning with the week they first file for benefits to set up a claim. Claimants may receive up to 26 weeks of benefits within the benefit year. Minimum claims may have fewer than 26 weeks available. They cannot file a new claim until after the 52 weeks. Extended benefits may be paid beyond the 26 weeks during periods of high unemployment.

In Plain English?
Basically, once your Unemployment Benefits run out, you have to work for a period again. Then if you are laid off in the future, you can reapply for Unemployment compensation.  But you have to have worked for a minimum period of time at the new position.  How long?  Approximately 3-6 months, but you have to check with the Unemployment Office.

SEA Program - Self Employment Assistance

Oregon has a separate feature for those seeking to start their own businesses.   Called SEA (Self Employment Assistance), you can choose this option instead of the regular claims.  The unique part about this is that you have to submit a Business Plan, and Get It Approved(TM).   But if you pass the criteria, you do NOT HAVE TO SUBMIT JOB SEARCH CLAIMS EVERY WEEK.

Note:  If you have less than 13 weeks of Unemployment left, they will not approve you.  You must choose this option as soon as possible, and it is recommended you do so as you apply, if you know that is what you want to do.

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