Calculating Unemployment Benefit Amount
After you have determined your base period, you can estimate your unemployment benefit amount. Before you can do this, you need to learn the rules for your state because each state may calculate benefits differently. In fact, some states have more than one method for calculating benefits so arriving at a correct number can be challenging, especially if you are not aware of all the rules.
You can begin estimating the amount of your potential benefit by learning the maximum benefit for your state. This amount can vary a lot. For example, South Carolina allows a maximum weekly benefit of $326 per week while Washington State offers up to $570. No matter how much you earned while working you cannot exceed these maximum limitations, suggesting that the usefulness of unemployment benefits diminishes with higher income workers.
Some states publicize how they calculate unemployment benefit amounts. Washington State, for example, takes your average gross wages from your two highest paid quarters and then multiplies it by 3.85%. A person earning $1,000 per week during those quarters would receive a benefit off about $500 (($13,000+13,000)/2 * .0385 = 500.50). The maximum amount a person can draw there is the smallest of either (1) 26 times their maximum benefit amount or (2) 1/3 of their gross wages from their base year.
Fortunately, most states offer a benefits calculator that can take much of the confusion out of your estimate. For example, the South Carolina unemployment Web site does not explain in detail how benefits are calculated, but it does provide an unemployment benefit calculator to generate your estimate. That same person earning $1000 per week can punch in $13,000 per quarter and therefore will qualify for the $326 maximum weekly benefit.
If your state does not publicly provide enough information for you to calculate unemployment benefit checks, the best way to proceed is to either phone your local unemployment benefit office for more information or use the online benefit calculator provided by your state. Also, check to see if you can apply for unemployment benefits directly online. Keep in mind that your actual benefit check may differ from your estimates.
Image Credits: Screen shot taken by Bruce Tyson