Thursday, February 7, 2013

FAQ: Filing Unemployment - Part 1

Quick Summary:

Each state has its own unemployment benefit laws. In all 50 states, you have to be authorized to work in US, before you can claim unemployment (people on visas such as B1, B2, H4, etc are not eligible to claim unemployment, since they are not authorized to work). In few states, people on H1 are also eligible to claim unemployment benefits.

If you are not a US citizen, the state government will typically contact USCIS to verify immigration eligibility.If you claim unemployment under H1, this means you are no longer legally employed (and hence this could mean you are out of status).

This can affect your green card process (since you are no longer legally employed).  ALWAYS talk to your lawyer before applying for unemployment benefits while been on a visa. ICE, after been notified, can deport people who are out of status.

The FAQ information below is specific to state of California.  Employment benefits are different for different states. Hence please consider this FAQ as a generic guideline and talk to your  lawyer if you are considering applying for employment benefits (on a non-immigrant visa or EAD)

What are the eligibility requirements?
To be entitled to benefits you must be:
  • Out of work due to no fault of their own.
  • Physically able to work.
  • Actively seeking work.
  • Ready to accept work.

Who can apply for UI benefits?
Individuals who are currently unemployed or working part-time can apply for UI benefits (you cannot apply for benefits in anticipation of your last day of work). Use one of the following methods:
  • Access eApply4UI: The eApply4UI application is available as a “Top Link” from the EDD home page. Answers to questions are entered online. After the application is completed the individual submits it online to the Department. Note: This is the fastest way to file your claim.
  • Contact EDD by telephone. Individuals will speak to a Department representative who will ask a series of questions and record the responses.
  • Complete a UI Application, DE 1101I: This form is available in the Forms and Publications section of this Web site. The DE 1101I is printed, completed by hand and either faxed or mailed to the Department.
Note: The above options may also be used to reactivate an existing claim or file for extended benefits. The Department will then determine if the individual is entitled to benefits.
The Department will then determine if the individual is entitled to benefits.

How can an individual qualify for UI benefits?
Most work performed in California, or in other states qualifies an individual for UI benefits. Self-employment does not usually qualify for UI benefits coverage. Contact EDD and we will determine if the individual is entitled to benefits.

How are UI benefits calculated?
Benefits are calculated using an individual’s earnings during a specific 12 month period (this is called a base period). The base period begins approximately 15-17 months prior to the date the claim is filed. The amount paid each week is calculated based on the calendar quarter with the highest earnings during the base period.
   How much do claimants receive?
Weekly benefit amounts range from a minimum of $40 to a maximum of $450 depending on the claimant’s quarterly earnings. To qualify for the maximum amount each week ($450) an individual must earn at least $11,674.01 in a calendar quarter during the base period (an individual’s earnings during a specific 12 month period).

   How long do UI benefits last?
A claim is effective for one year. During the year claimants can receive from 12-26 weeks of full benefits. The number of weeks varies, based on total earnings during the base period (an individual's earnings during a 12 month period). During periods of high unemployment, additional benefits may be granted by Congress, or the State Legislature.

   When should an individual apply for UI benefits?
Individuals should apply for benefits as soon as they are unemployed, or working less than full-time. All claims are effective on the Sunday prior to applying for benefits, and have a one week unpaid waiting period. The waiting period does not begin until the claim is filed.

What do I need to file a claim?
Individuals must be out of work (for any reason), or working less than full-time. In addition, you must provide the following information:
  • Your name and social security account number
  • Your mailing and residence address (if different)
  • Your telephone number
  • Last employer information, including:
    - Name, address (mailing and physical location) and telephone number
  • Information on all employers you worked for during the 18 months prior to claim filing your claim, including:
    - Name, period of employment, wages earned and how paid
  • Your driver’s license or ID card number, if you have either
  • Last date worked and the reason you are no longer working
  • Citizenship status (which may include your alien registration number)
If the Department needs to verify any of the information provided while filing a claim, additional forms will be sent by mail and additional information and/or documentation will be requested.
After the claim is filed, the Department will determine if you are eligible to receive benefits.

Why did I receive a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claim Filed, DE 1101CLMT in the mail? What am I supposed to do with it?
All claimants are mailed a copy of the claim information they provided to EDD when filing for UI benefits. This information is contained on the DE 1101CLMT. The notice advises you of your right to correct errors or omissions, and provides instructions on how to contact the Department to make corrections.
The Department considers the information provided during claim filing to be correct unless you advise us otherwise. If any information on the DE 1101CLMT is not correct, you have ten days from the mailing date of the notice to advise the Department so we can correct our records. You can correct the information in writing or by telephone.

   Can individuals who are not U.S. citizens collect UI benefits?
To collect UI benefits, non-citizen applicants must establish that they were in satisfactory immigration status and authorized to work in the United States, when earning the wages used to establish their claim. In addition, the non-citizen applicants must provide proof that they remain in satisfactory immigration status and are authorized to work each week that benefits are claimed. Non-citizen applicants will be required to provide specific information from their employment authorization documents issued to them by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In some cases, non-citizen applicants will be asked to provide legible copies of their employment authorization documents. EDD verifies immigration status and work authorization through an electronic system maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.
I was fired from my job. Will I be eligible?
When an individual files a claim for UI benefits, the Department documents the reason the individual is no longer working, and includes it in the Notice of Claim Filed, DE 1101CZ, which is mailed to the last employer. The employer may also provide information about the reason the individual is no longer working when responding to the notice.
If the individual was discharged or terminated, the EDD will conduct a telephone interview with the individual and the employer approximately two weeks after the claim is filed to determine whether or not the individual is eligible for UI benefits, according to state law and regulations.
State law provides that an individual who is discharged or terminated may be eligible for UI benefits provided that specific criteria are met. The EDD staff will determine on a case-by-case basis, whether the facts presented for the discharge or termination meet the criteria according to state law. The individual must also meet all other eligibility requirements before UI benefits are paid.
The Department’s law and policy guidelines regarding discharges or terminations are available on the EDD Web site.

Continue to part 2:

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