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Does Capital Gains Affect My Unemployment Benefits?

Capital gains should not affect your unemployment benefits, because unemployment benefits are calculated using earned income. Capital gains are investment income. Capital gains are not factored into calculating the weekly benefit amount that you are eligible for, nor should they be reported as earned income and deducted from your weekly benefits check once you begin receiving unemployment benefits.

Calculating Eligible Benefit

While you work for an employer, the employer pays into a state-run unemployment insurance fund in your name. The employers contributes a percentage of your wages into the fund. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you can claim weekly benefits from the fund until you find a new job. Fund employees determine how much you are eligible to receive weekly based on how much you earned while employed.

Deducting Earnings

Once your claim goes through, you begin receiving benefit checks once a week. You must submit a claim every week and affirm that you are looking for work but still unemployed. You must also report any income that you earned that week. Fund employees deduct a percentage of that earned income — often between 60 and 75 percent, depending on the state you live in — from that week’s benefit check.

Capital Gains

The Internal Revenue Service defines capital gains as any money made from selling a capital good, which is practically anything, including real estate; vehicles; stocks; bonds; other investments; securities; stamps; silverware; clothes; and patents. Capital gains are not factored into your benefits because your employer does not pay unemployment insurance on them, and capital gains are not deducted from your benefit checks because they are not earned income. Dividends and interest are investment income — not capital gains — but also do not affect unemployment benefits.

Earned Income

Only earned income affects unemployment benefits. When calculating the benefit amount that you are eligible for, only earned income that an employer paid unemployment insurance in your name on is considered. As far as earned income that you must report and have deducted from a benefit check, you must report any compensation you received in exchange for work, including self-employment, temporary employment and work for trade (you must report the value of what you received in exchange for work, such as food or rent).


Calla Hummel is a doctoral student studying contraband in international political economy. She supplements her student stipend by writing about personal finance and working as a consultant, as well as hoping that her investments will pan out.