Can You Reopen Unemployment Benefits If You Are Laid Off Again?

Updated : March 5th, 2021

The pandemic-induced economic downturn had caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and depend on the federal or state-provided Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for survival. But as states begin to restart economic activities, people are finding new jobs or returning to their old jobs. But what happens if you get laid off again due to the pandemic? Can you reopen unemployment benefits? 

 The answer is: Yes. You are eligible to reopen unemployment benefits if you have lost your job again. This article will guide you through reopening unemployment benefits and extention of benefits. 

More About Restarting Unemployment Benefits  

You can restart unemployment benefits even if you had filed for them earlier that year. When you first file an unemployment claim, your benefit year begins. Over the next 52 weeks from the date of filing the initial unemployment claim, any benefits you apply for would be added into that benefit year.

When you first apply for unemployment benefits, you qualify to receive payments depending on various factors like how much you earned in your base period, how much you used to earn every week, etc. This amount is the maximum unemployment benefits you can receive every week for a benefit year of 52 weeks.

The number of weeks you can collect unemployment benefits within that 52 weeks depends on your state of residence. While some states like Florida offer benefits for only 12 weeks, others like Montana provide for 28 weeks. However, most states provide benefits for up to 26 weeks. 

It is important to note that you don’t have to use up all your unemployment weeks consecutively but within a year of when you filed initial unemployment benefits.

For instance, let’s say you live in a state that offers 28 weeks of unemployment benefits. You qualify for the payment and collect benefits for 14 weeks. Thereafter, you get a full-time job, and so you stop collecting benefits. If the business shuts down, then you still have 14 weeks to collect unemployment benefits before your benefit year expires.

What If You Are Still Unemployed Past The 52 Weeks?

If you are unemployed for the past 52 weeks, you can continue to apply for unemployment benefits. However, the probability of you qualifying to receive payments is very low. That is because Unemployment Insurance benefits are generally based on your past four quarters’ earnings. If you haven’t earned any income in the past four quarters, you will not be eligible for benefits in the following benefit year.

How To Reapply For Unemployment Benefits?

You can reapply for unemployment benefits by logging into your account registered on the state’s Department Of Labor (DOL) website. Provide the necessary information and answer the questions like how much did you earn, etc. 

Note that you must notify the Department that you are earning wages on the first day you took up the job and not when you get your first paycheck. 

For instance, if you are joining the date of June 15 but won’t be paid until June 30, you must stop applying for your unemployment benefit on June 15.

Will Unemployment Benefits Be Extended?

Some states have extended unemployment benefits, but many others haven’t yet. The states will extend benefits only if their unemployment rate exceeds the threshold level. This does not mean that you will not receive any benefits if you have exhausted your regular benefits. 

You can still receive payments under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. This program was implemented under the CARES Act and aimed at providing benefits for an additional 13 weeks. “If you were laid off for more than 26 weeks, you could restart and go into PEUC, probably,” stated Evermore, referring to the PEUC program.

Note that you can receive benefits through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program if you exhaust benefits received under the regular and extended benefits (in case your state provides).

For instance, if your state provides 26 weeks of regular benefits and 7 weeks of extended benefits, you can collect benefits through the PEUC program when you exhaust all benefits received through the regular and extended programs. This indicates that you can receive payment for a total of 46 (26+7+13) weeks.

But suppose your state is providing regular benefits for 26 weeks but no extended benefits, and you have exhausted your benefits. In that case, you can qualify for the PEUC program when you exhaust benefits received through the regular unemployment program. This indicates that you can collect benefits for a total 39 (26+13) weeks. 

If you have exhausted benefits received through the PEUC program, you can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. The program was created under the CARES Act to provide benefits to those who otherwise did not qualify to receive benefits under the regular UI program like the self-employed, independent contractors, etc. The program provides benefits for 39 weeks. 

When Will The Extended Benefits End?

Both PEUC and PUA are scheduled to end on December 31, 2020, unless another stimulus package extends them. So far, the Republicans and Democrats have failed to reach an agreement on another Coronavirus stimulus package. That means millions of unemployed Americans will stop receiving benefits when the year ends. 

What Happens If The Extended Benefits End?

Your maximum weekly unemployment benefits reset to what is provided in your state unless the new unemployment stimulus package is announced. However, suppose the unemployment rate soars again, Congress may announce another stimulus package or extend the benefits period, or may even allow people to collect benefits through a regular unemployment program beyond 52 weeks. 

So if you have been unemployed since April 1, 2020, and qualify for the Unemployment Insurance program, you may be able to continue receiving benefits beyond April 1, 2021.

Closing Thoughts 

You can qualify for an unemployment program without any hassle and get benefits unless you fail to provide the necessary documentation to the Department Of Labor. Therefore, make sure you provide precise details regarding your earnings, work hours, etc. To know more about the unemployment programs or claim reopening process, visit your state’s Labor Department website. 


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