In general terms, unemployment benefits can be defined as a form of temporary income that a person can receive from the government if they have recently been permanently or temporarily laid off through no fault of their own. For example, if a company went bankrupt or had to suspend its workforce due to lack of business, then those workers could potentially qualify for unemployment benefits, assuming they meet all other requirements.

Depending on the laws of the state in which you work as well as the facts of your personal situation, you may be able to claim full or partial unemployment benefits for a specified period of time. Both the amount of wages you can receive and the number of weeks you can collect such payments for will be provided by federal and state laws. In some cases, you may even be eligible to collect unemployment benefits from the federal and your state government.

To learn more about the types of unemployment benefits you may be eligible for and/or the application process in your state, you should contact a local employment lawyer for further advice. A lawyer will be familiar with the procedures for collecting unemployment benefits and can make sure that you are aware of updates or changes made to any existing laws that are relevant to your claim. 

What are Partial Unemployment Benefits? 

A worker who either works part-time or has had the number of hours they work reduced can sometimes collect partial unemployment benefits if it is allowed under the laws of the state in which they work. 

For instance, if a worker only earns a certain amount of money or works less than thirty hours per week, then they may be eligible to receive partial unemployment benefits if they meet all other criteria provided by state law.

In contrast, if a worker voluntarily requests to have their hours reduced or to only work part-time, then they most likely will not be eligible to claim partial unemployment benefits. 

However, many of the federal and state law requirements for unemployment benefits have been temporarily amended to provide relief to workers during the pandemic. Thus, a worker who has had their hours reduced because of COVID-19 may be entitled to collect partial unemployment benefits. 

In addition, many of the stricter regulations that initially applied before the pandemic began have either been modified or lifted for a temporary period of time. Accordingly, many applicants who would normally be rejected may now be eligible for partial unemployment benefits under the new laws. Again, the conditions and procedures to collect partial unemployment benefits will vary widely by and in accordance with state law.

Am I Entitled to Partial Unemployment Benefits Due to COVID-19 Reasons? 

Similar to full unemployment benefits, whether an individual is eligible to receive partial unemployment benefits or not will again depend on the laws of a particular state. Workers who were forced to reduce the number of hours they worked due to COVID-19 reasons, will be able to apply and collect unemployment benefits, assuming that all other criteria is met.

So long as the worker is only working part-time through no fault of their own, they should be able to receive partial unemployment benefits based on reasons related to the pandemic (e.g., an employer cut back on employees’ work hours). The application can be submitted to their state unemployment agency.

One important distinction to keep in mind between full and partial unemployment benefits is that those who are claiming partial unemployment benefits will need to submit a report that shows how much they are earning from their part-time position each week. Beneficiaries who fail to remember this requirement may need to repay a portion of their benefits and potentially could face additional penalties.

How Can I Apply for Full or Partial Unemployment Benefits? 

First, an individual must determine whether or not they qualify to receive full or partial unemployment benefits. While each state has its own set of guidelines, at bare minimum the individual must be able to demonstrate the following two factors:

  • That they are unemployed through no fault of their own accord, such as if their employer had to suspend them temporarily due to lack of work or resources; and
  • That they meet the period of working hours and the amount of wages set by their state’s eligibility requirements.

Applicants also need to keep in mind that their state may have extra conditions that they will need to satisfy. Thus, it may be best if applicants contact their state’s unemployment insurance program directly either in person, by phone, or via a website created by their state’s government agency. The sooner they contact a state representative, the better their chances are of having their application granted.

Another important detail to note is that applicants will have to file a claim in the state in which they worked. For instance, if an applicant lives in Washington, but works in Alaska, then they would file their unemployment benefits application in Alaska. 

Additionally, many states have relaxed some of their stricter requirements due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on businesses and the workforce in the United States.

Lastly, if a candidate thinks they will need help with this process, they should consult a local employment lawyer for further guidance.

How Long Does Partial Unemployment Last? 

The period of time that a person may collect partial unemployment benefits will depend on the specific factors used to calculate unemployment benefits in their particular state. In general, the standard amount of time that a person can claim unemployment benefits for is twenty-six weeks. However, this number can fluctuate since it is based on state law.

This standard twenty-six week time frame has recently been changed because of the effects of the pandemic. Under current federal law, workers who have been collecting unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 conditions may be eligible for an extension. This allows them to continue receiving such benefits for a maximum period of seventy-nine to eight-six weeks. Again, this number will be contingent on the individual’s personal circumstances.

Workers whose benefit payments ran out before the new timelines were passed into law, can most likely re-apply to have their benefits extended.

Some other factors that will affect how long partial unemployment benefits last include whether the individual found a full-time job, was asked to return to work after a temporary layoff period, and/or used up the amount of funds they were allocated under their state’s partial unemployment benefits program. 

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with My Claim? 

You should absolutely hire a local lawyer to help you with a claim for partial unemployment benefits if you are having trouble with the application process or if your claim has been denied. An experienced employment lawyer will be able to review your application and can make sure that it does not contain any errors. Your lawyer can also assist you in filing your application with the appropriate government agencies.

If your claim for partial unemployment benefits has already been denied, your lawyer will be able to help you with the appeals process as well. If your application gets denied on appeal, then your lawyer can recommend other options of government benefits that you may be eligible for and can guide you through the process for each of those options. 

In addition, your lawyer can keep you abreast of all the recent changes and updates being made to existing unemployment laws due to the pandemic. For example, a newly enacted federal act is currently allowing qualifying candidates to collect an extra $300 per week on top of their standard unemployment benefits through September 6, 2021. 

Thus, your lawyer would be able to inform you of supplemental benefits that you might be missing out on and can make sure that you are aware of any upcoming deadlines so you can make a budget in advance.

Finally, if there is an issue that requires you to appear in court or at an administrative hearing, your lawyer will be able to represent your interests during either one of these proceedings.