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How To Go Back To Work and Still Keep Unemployment Benefits

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Last year, millions of people throughout the country received federal unemployment benefits as part of the American Rescue Plan stimulus relief bill. While federal unemployment benefits ended on Sept. 6, 2021, state-issued unemployment insurance is still available, and partial unemployment insurance is also available in many states. Partial UI is a program allows workers to return to work for a new employer at reduced hours — aka part time — while still receiving some of the unemployment benefits they currently receive.

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While you might already be familiar with the partial UI program in your state, which often reduces the amount of unemployment benefits a person can receive based on the number of hours they works, states have the power to enhance the capacity of partial UI by raising the income threshold where workers can both work and receive some UI benefits.

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However, like regular unemployment insurance, it requires those who receive unemployment benefits to be actively searching for employment. Here’s more info on the program.

How To Find Out About Your State’s Partial UI Program

If you’re receiving unemployment benefits and want to take a part-time job but don’t want to lose all of your UI benefits, you might be able to do so by claiming partial benefits. By being able to work part time and still claim some of your partial benefits, you might be able to have more income than just relying on UI benefits alone. 

The best way to find out about your state’s partial UI program is to check with your state because each state is responsible for administering its own program. You can easily find links to your state’s Unemployment Insurance program by using the Unemployment Benefits Finder tool on CareerOneStop, a career exploration, training and jobs site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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How Some State’s UI Rules Have Changed

Many states have changed their rules on how part-time work impacts the amount of unemployment benefits a person receives. For example, New York now uses what it calls an “hours-based” approach to calculate partial unemployment benefits. Before the change, the state used to reduce benefits for each day a person worked.

According to the New York State Department of Labor website, you can now work up to seven days per week without losing unemployment benefits for that week as long as you work 30 hours or fewer and your gross pay is $504 or less. However, the maximum number of hours you can work without a reduction in unemployment benefits is 10. In New York State, if you work 11 to 16 hours per week, your benefits will be reduced by 25%. If you work 17 to 21 hours, your unemployment benefits will be reduced by 50% and if you work 22 to 30 hours, your benefits will be reduced by 75%. If you work over 30 hours in a week, you will not be eligible for benefits.

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In Texas, however, partial unemployment benefits for part-time workers are calculated differently. For example, you can only earn up to 25% of your weekly benefit amount or else your benefits will be reduced for that week.

So if your weekly benefit is $400, you can’t earn more than $100 per week at a part-time job without losing some of your weekly benefit. For example, if you earn $125, your weekly benefit will be reduced the amount that’s over 25% of your weekly benefit — in this case $25. And if you earn more than your weekly benefit amount plus 25% — in this case $500 — you won’t be eligible for benefits that week.

Unemployment Benefits Are a Temporary Solution

In most states, unemployment benefits can only be applied for a maximum of 26 weeks or half of a year. It’s expected that you actively seek full-time employment while receiving benefits. Additionally, each state has its own rules to maintain weekly eligibility.

However, if you think earning income from a part-time job plus your weekly benefit could help you make ends meet more easily, check your state’s rules for unemployment insurance benefits for part-time workers to find out more.

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Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.