How do I document my sideline business while collecting unemployment in PA?
May 20, 2012 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Can you walk me through the steps/documentation necessary to collect Pennsylvania unemployment while maintaining a "sideline" business?

I currently have both a full-time job (which makes up about 2/3 of my annual income) and am sole proprietor of a small business which brings in the other 1/3.

There's a pretty reasonable chance that within a few months I will be laid off from the full-time job due to downsizing, so I'm trying to do some advance research about whether I'll be eligible for unemployment benefits. I've read the information about sideline businesses here and I will fit the qualifications, at least until/unless I decide to start ramping up the side business.

However, the super-vague part about me having the burden of proof to document that I meet the criteria is making me wonder just what hoops I will have to jump through. Is anyone out there who has done this and can give me an idea of what I should expect, what paperwork will I need, anything I should be documenting now while I'm working both jobs, etc.? I'll gladly accept advice from other states too if you've had to prove something similar, but am particularly interested in PA experience.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have experience with PA unemployment though not this exact situation. In my case, I have 2 jobs -- 1 in seasonal, the other is as an independent contractor. I was eligible for unemployment, and to receive it I had to a) make less than a certain amount of $ weekly, b) fill out their bi-weekly report, and either c) apply for 3 jobs weekly (bi-weekly?) and, I believe, document this by sending in the name of the companies applied to with contact information, or d) sign up for some online job-search program and apply to 1 or 2 jobs weekly.

I was making enough money with my second job that I ended up exceeding the weekly income amount, so I never collected anything.

OTOH, a PA relative of mine was on unemployment after a lay-off and was working minimally part-time. She was making under her minimum every week so was able to collect, and did so until the unemployment ran out. However, that was before they implemented the "look for work weekly" stipulation, which seems to be intended to prevent people from just laying around collecting unemployment without trying to get re-employed.

Also so you know, they figure out how much you're eligible for by taking the highest quarter in the past year. If you can do overtime, etc., etc., to increase that, you'll get more $ come layoff time.

For documentation purposes, I assume you'd be paying taxes on your sideline business and thus have proof that it's been around for X amount of time. If it's new and you haven't yet paid taxes, you could probably pay estimated taxes to get that proof.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:01 PM on May 20, 2012

This is from UCPA

Partial Benefit Credit - The amount equal to 40% of your weekly benefit rate is your partial benefit credit. If you are not working full time, you may earn up to this amount without reducing your benefits for the week. Earnings in excess of your partial benefit credit will be deducted from your benefits for the week. If you earn more than your weekly benefit rate plus your partial benefit credit, you will not be eligible for benefits. When reporting your earnings for a week for which you are claiming benefits, always give the gross amount earned during the week for which you are filing, regardless of when paid. When you file your benefit week claim, you will be asked to provide the amount you earned from all your employers for the week. All earnings must be reported.
Just for comparison, in Florida, the maximum weekly benefit is now $275, so in that case you could earn up to $110 gross per week without afftecting your benefits. I have no idea what the maximum weekly benefit is in PA.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:06 PM on May 20, 2012

Is your sideline business incorporated? I ask because:

An individual, who, through ownership of stock and his/her position in the corporation, exercises a "substantial degree of control" over its operation, must be considered a self-employed businessperson. The claimant must provide information showing that he/she is not a self-employed businessperson to be eligible.

This was the consideration that ultimately led to my ineligibility, even though my business was actually running at a loss.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:34 AM on May 21, 2012

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