When you collect unemployment benefits, your state limits the amount you receive each benefit year to prevent abuse of the program (often only 13-26 weeks). After your benefits run out, you can refile for unemployment or reopen your claim when your benefit year rolls over. Your information is already stored in the state labor system, so refiling a claim is typically an abbreviated process. However, you must meet all of the state eligibility requirements for benefits, including monetary eligibility, which may be difficult if you collected benefits most of the previous year.
Maximum Benefit Amount
Your state labor office must protect the integrity of the unemployment insurance plan for its state. One of the ways it does this is by enforcing a maximum benefit amount per year. The method a state uses to determine your maximum benefit amount varies, but most states either set a percentage of your total base period wages as your maximum. Other states use the credit week system, which determines how many weeks you earned over a certain amount in your base period and multiplies that number times your weekly benefit amount to calculate your maximum benefit amount.
Your Benefit Year
When the word “year” comes up in unemployment compensation, it’s actually your benefit year in question. Your benefit year is the 52 weeks following your initial claim. Even if you go on and off benefits several times through a year, your benefit year doesn’t change. Maximum benefit amounts apply to each benefit year. So if you’ve maxed out your unemployment benefits, you won’t be able to refile your claim until the anniversary of your initial claim date.
Refiling Your Claim
If your unemployment benefits have run out, you must wait until your benefit year ends to refile your claim. Either log into the state labor office’s website or call its claims number. Select the option to reopen your claim using the login credentials you used previously. Verify that your basic information hasn’t changed and enter any new work history you may have when prompted. The state labor office will evaluate your claim application for eligibility.
When you refile a claim, you’re still subject to the same eligibility requirements a new claim would have to meet. One of those requirements, monetary eligibility, may be difficult to meet if you maxed out your unemployment compensation the year before. The state reviews your wages from covered employment for your base period, which is the first four of the last five calendar quarters before you reopen your claim. You must meet the state requirements for income during that time, and if you were claiming unemployment for half the year, this makes it difficult. Some states also require that you work a number of weeks before you can reopen your claim as well.
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.