September 4, 2003
Lost your job? Be sure to file for unemployment
Special to NWjobs
Many people are at a loss about what to do first when they lose a job. You know you'll need to start looking, but many skip over the thing that can make the process less painful: obtaining unemployment benefits. It helps defeat the desperation that unemployment creates and allows you to maintain a "you-can-do-it" attitude and spirit.
I've never understood why some people see filing for unemployment as an embarrassing thing. There is no shame in getting money due you. Your wages and employer's taxes have been paying into this fund over your working career. Check out the details about filing at: http://www.wa.gov/esd/ui/uiappl.htm.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Am I eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits?
Eligibility is based on your employment history and the reason you're unemployed. First, you need to have had 680 hours of employment, plus you need to be physically able to work, available for work, and actively seeking suitable work. The next eligibility requirement involves the reason you're unemployed. If your employer laid you off for lack of work, you are likely eligible. If you voluntarily quit your job or were discharged by your employer, the unemployment office will have to make a formal decision about your eligibility, but it's wise to apply anyway.
How long can I get my benefits?
Your claim is established for a "benefit year," which is 52 weeks beginning with the week you file your application. Don't delay because claims are not retroactive. If you claim full benefits, the maximum length of time your benefits would last is 30 weeks. If you have an opportunity for part-time work and your "earnings deduction" (this is your gross earnings minus $5 times 75%) is less than your weekly benefit amount, you could receive partial benefits and extend the period of time that you could draw benefits. Additional earnings may also help you qualify for a new claim when your benefit year ends.
How long from filing will it be for me to begin getting a check?
The first week of unemployment compensation is called your waiting week. You will not be paid for this week. You must file a weekly claim for the waiting week and meet all eligibility requirements, even though you will not receive a check for the week.
Are extensions available after I exhaust my maximum regular benefit amount?
Washington is currently in an extended benefit period so you may qualify for an extension. This varies based on your reason for unemployment and the industry, job, and company you worked for. Contact WorkSource (the unemployment office) or visit their Web site for more details.
How does severance pay affect my benefits?
Severance payments do not usually have any effect on receipt of benefits. However, "Pay in Lieu of Notice" or "Continuation Pay" with full benefits that are guaranteed can affect the receipt of unemployment benefits.
How does a pension affect my benefits?
Social Security payments are not deductible from UI benefits. Payments under any government or private retirement pension will be deductible from UI benefits if the pension is based on your work for a base year employer and that employer contributed to or maintained the pension plan. The amount deducted is based on the percentage of contribution made by the base year employer.
Do I have to accept a wage that's less than I am accustomed to earning?
To be eligible for benefits, you must be making a realistic work search and be willing to accept any suitable work. Suitable work is employment in an occupation in line with your prior training, experience and education - unless your regular work does not exist in your area. Work would not be considered suitable if the wages, hours or working conditions are not as favorable most jobs in your occupation in the local labor market or if you are not physically able to perform the work.
Can I go to school and still get UI benefits?
Unemployment insurance is designed to assist you with living expenses while you search for employment. To be eligible for benefits each week, you must be able, available and actively seeking work. Attending school calls your eligibility for benefits into question. If you are attending or plan to attend full time training, you may be eligible for Commissioner Approved Training (CAT). You need to apply for CAT. You may be eligible for CAT if jobs for which you are qualified do not exist or are decreasing in your labor market. The training must be for an occupation or skill that holds reasonable job opportunities when you complete the training. You can get additional eligibility information and request a CAT application from the Unemployment Claims Center.
Can I still claim weekly benefits if I am moving out of Washington State?
If you are currently filing weekly claims in Washington, file a change of address after you move. You can do this online or by calling the Weekly Claims Line. You will continue to file your weekly claims as you do now. Although you are living in a different state, your claim will remain against Washington and you will continue to draw benefits from your Washington claim.
If you are in Extended Benefits (EB) and move to a state that is not in an EB period, you will only be eligible for two weeks of EB. If you are in the new Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) you may reside in any state and still be eligible.
How do I file a NEW claim?
While still residing in Washington (WA), you file a new WA claim online at go2ui.com, or by calling your Unemployment Claims TeleCenter at: 800-362-4636.
Are my UI benefits taxable?
Note: Information Source: WA State WorkSource
Robin Ryan has appeared on Oprah, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CNN, CNBC and is considered America's top career coach. She is the best-selling author of: 60 Seconds & You're Hired!; Winning Resumes; Winning Cover Letters, and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. She's the creator of the highly acclaimed audio training program Interview Advantage and The DreamMaker. Robin's passion is helping people find better jobs which she successfully does through her career counseling practice where she offers individual career coaching and resume writing services. A popular national speaker, Robin has spoken to over a thousand audiences on improving their lives and obtaining greater success. To purchase products or contact Robin visit her Web site at www.robinryan.com.
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