Coronaworld Unemployment benefits?
July 31, 2020 5:26 PM   Subscribe

My partner became covid-unemployed (California) in March. Her work re-opened in June & she works just a few hours a week, and reports her income to the state appropriately each week. If she reports more than the basic state UI payment (@ $450) she gets nothing. But if she works less than that she gets both the difference from the state AND the Federal $600 supplement. Can anyone explain this? What's the best (most financially advantageous & legal) alternative? or is she just screwed?
posted by TDIpod to Work & Money (8 answers total)
The additional $600 ends today, so you can take that out of the equation.
posted by tzikeh at 5:31 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]

The $600 is all or nothing. If you qualify for any amount of state UI, you get it.

But it's over, pending whatever they pass going forward in Congress.
posted by bradbane at 5:33 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]

I know about the expiration date; just planning ahead on ?Congressional Action?
posted by TDIpod at 5:33 PM on July 31

I know about the expiration date; just planning ahead

She can ask her employer to schedule her for just under whatever the minimum would be for her to retain state UI and collect whatever hypothetical federal benefit might exist in the future. Nothing wrong with that.
posted by bradbane at 5:47 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]

The MeFi Wiki Get a lawyer page offers links to resources for Employment / Unemployment issues, and in California, Legal Aid at Work offers a variety of virtual clinics and telephone helplines, including with a focus on securing unemployment insurance, as well as UI/PUA/PUC/PEUC fact sheets, including one about Coronavirus – Frequently Asked Questions.
posted by katra at 6:09 PM on July 31

[deleted a comment with misinformation]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:15 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]

Bradbane has the right answers. Your partner needs to work fewer hours so her pay is less than $450 during that week in order to qualify for state unemployment and get the add-on federal benefit (which, as others have noted, expired this week). If she earns more than $450, she no longer qualifies for state UI or the federal benefit because the federal benefit was contingent on receiving state UI benefits.

One of the things holding up the next relief package is disagreement about the unemployment benefits. I think it's probably a safe bet that the next package will be available to the same people (if you qualify for state UI that week, you get state UI + federal benefit; if you don't, you get nothing.) However, the federal benefit amount is likely going to be lower and/or it will become a formula based on past wages that is designed to discourage people from doing what you're trying to do. So until Congress finalizes the plan, the only thing available to your partner is going to be the $450 from state UI. There *might* be a possibility of back pay of an add-on federal benefit for these weeks while Congress is finalizing a plan, but I am not counting on it.

No judgment from me on maximizing the benefits you have access to! You didn't exactly ask for advice on this, but given that the federal add-on benefit has gone away for the time being, I would recommend that your girlfriend work as much as she can now during these weeks without federal benefits so she can save her UI benefit time for when more money is available from the federal government. Assuming she has the ability to control her schedule or request schedule changes.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 8:17 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]

fyi, via COVID-19 FAQs: Unemployment Insurance Benefits (CA EDD), in the Eligibility section:
Are benefits available if my employer reduces my hours or shuts down operations due to impacts of the coronavirus?

"If your employer reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you are encouraged to file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able, available, and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria."
Your partner might want to ask a lawyer in California about what that means, because there may be a difference between what seems like the best financial answer and the best legal answer, and AskMe can't provide legal advice that your partner can rely on for their specific situation, including with regard to all of the other possible ways to remain eligible for UI that are described by the CA EDD.
posted by katra at 9:09 PM on July 31

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