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What Happens to My Unemployment Benefits if I Take a Commission-Only Job?

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Unemployment benefits are meant to be temporary. How long you collect depends on your available maximum benefit amount and how long it takes you to find a new job. Even if your new job pays commission only, it can affect your benefits by ending them or reducing them to partial unemployment benefits.

Commission-Only Jobs

Commission-only jobs are those that don’t pay you a base salary. Instead, you receive a payment based on your performance. For example, if you have a commission-only sales job, you receive a payment for each sale you make. Commission-only jobs aren’t insured under the state unemployment insurance program, which means that the wages you earn from these jobs don’t count toward your unemployment eligibility.

Unemployment Income

While commission-only jobs don’t count toward your insured wages for unemployment, they do count against your unemployment benefits once you’re collecting them. In fact, all income you earn while collecting benefits counts against your payments. Depending on the amount you earn, you either begin collecting partial unemployment or you end your benefits altogether.

Partial Unemployment Benefits

Partial unemployment benefits are for those who have some income but that income is less than their eligible unemployment benefits. You must earn less than your weekly benefit amount and work less than full-time hours to collect partial benefits for a week. You also must report your income each week you earn it to the state while you’re certifying for benefits each week.

Calculating Payments

If your commission-only job qualifies you for partial unemployment, you can continue to collect benefits but they will be less than your normal eligible amount. Each time you report your earnings, the state takes all the income you earned above the state specific earnings cap to adjust your income. It deducts that amount from your eligible weekly benefit amount and you receive the rest as your partial unemployment benefits.


Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.

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