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Retroactive Unemployment Benefits

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Whether you waited to file for unemployment benefits or did not know that you could file for unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for retroactive unemployment benefit payments. Not everyone is eligible for retroactive benefits when collecting unemployment. Only in certain instances or when certain conditions are met will you be able to receive retroactive unemployment benefits.

Defining Retroactive Benefits

The amount of retroactive benefits that you can collect varies and depends on your situation. You do not earn any type of interest on these benefits. Instead, your normal weekly benefit amount is what you receive for each week of back-dated benefits. Retroactive benefits are usually claimed by completing multiple weekly claim certification forms at once to catch up to your current benefit week. This can result in a lump sum payment of the back-dated benefits or several benefit payments arriving at the same time.

Extended Benefits

The administration of extended unemployment benefits varies slightly from state to state. Depending on the state administering your unemployment benefits, you may experience some lag time when moving from one extension tier to the next or when moving from the regular unemployment claim to the extended benefits. When this happens, you are entitled to retroactive benefits for the period in between. This is true in all states.

Processing Delays With Initial Claim

When you file your initial unemployment claim, your benefit year begins on that date. In many states, you have a one-week waiting period before benefit payments begin. If there is any type of processing delay with your claim, you will not be penalized. Processing delays could result from things such as issues with verifying some of your information or a past employer disputing the fact that you are no longer employed with the company. As soon as the delays or issues are resolved, you will be able to collect retroactive benefits for the weeks you missed out on. This is true in all states.

Late Filing Or Special Circumstances

If you end up filing late for unemployment benefits, you may be able to ask for the claim to be back-dated. In some states, this requires special circumstances. For example, in California you can request back-dating if your employer fails to inform you of your right to file for unemployment benefits. The availability of back-dating a claim varies from state to state and is usually taken on a case-by-case basis. To request back-dating, you must file for unemployment over the phone to make the request. When you make this request, your claim will be reviewed and a decision made either for or against back-dating the claim. Making this request does delay your benefits while it is being reviewed. If your request is approved, you get all of the retroactive benefits. If not, you only get retroactive benefits for the time you were waiting for the review.


Jamie Lisse has been writing professionally since 1997. She has published works with a number of online and print publishers. Her areas of expertise include finance and accounting, travel, entertainment, digital media and technology. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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