After a Year of Unemployment, Do You Need to Reapply?

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No matter how hard you hunt for a job and how many interviews you attend, unemployment insurance benefits don’t replace a paycheck, and workers who exhaust their benefits without returning to work usually don’t have enough earnings to qualify for another claim after a year. In states that received emergency unemployment compensation extensions, beneficiaries may need to apply for continued long-term benefits.

Benefit Year

Most states provide unemployment benefits that are good for a year’s time, a period known as a beneficiary’s benefit year. A benefit year begins the date a worker files an initial claim and ends on the same date the next year. During this period, the unemployment benefit awarded following the initial claim is the only amount which a beneficiary may receive until the start of a new benefit year. In states that suffered unemployment rates of 8.5 percent or more, Congress temporarily authorized emergency benefits beyond traditional limits that may extend up to 99 weeks. In most states, when beneficiaries qualify for emergency benefits, their state unemployment agency automatically enrolls them.

Reapplying Without Income

At the end of a benefit year, a beneficiary may make an additional initial claim at any time, although he will only receive benefits if he earned income in the past year. Each state calculates benefits differently, although almost all base it on the amount of income a worker earned in a base period of the first four of the previous five quarters. A worker who has been unemployed for a period longer than a year will only earned wages in one quarter in the base period, at most. Without earnings that contribute to unemployment insurance coffers, a worker doesn’t qualify for benefits after his benefit year expires.

Reapplying With Income

A worker who worked for a period during her benefit year may qualify for benefits if she becomes unemployed following the end of her original benefit year. While state regulations vary concerning the amount of earnings a worker must receive during her base period to qualify for unemployment benefits, earnings during the original benefit year may be high enough to qualify for a second claim after a year. For example, if a beneficiary begins receiving benefits, then is employed for a month before becoming laid off once more, it’s likely her earnings during her employed period will qualify her for benefits in a second benefit year.

Emergency Unemployment Compensation

In states with high unemployment, Congress provided funding to provide an additional 53 weeks of benefits to workers in addition to the 26 weeks of traditional benefits and the normal 20-week extension for extended benefits. Most states enroll qualifying beneficiaries into the program automatically, although a few required beneficiaries to return a form requesting the benefits. Beneficiaries who qualify for extended benefits do not need to reapply once they’re approved following the end of their original benefit year.