Unemployment benefits exist on a limited basis to prevent abuse of the program and reserve funds for those in need. The maximum weekly and total claim amounts are based on the laws of the state in question. If you live in Washington, D.C., the Department of Employment Services (DOES) regulates the amounts of your claims, including the amount your compensation. There are two limitations: maximum weekly benefit amount and maximum claim amount.
Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount
Washington D.C. unemployment benefits are divided into weekly segments. One week’s benefits don’t affect the benefits of another week. The district sets a maximum weekly benefit amount based on the average citizen’s insured salary. Since the statistics can change year to year, the maximum weekly benefit laws change as well. As of March 2011, you can’t collect more than $359 per week on unemployment in Washington DC.
Calculating Weekly Benefit Amount
D.C. determines your weekly benefit amount by reviewing your base period wages. Your base period wages are the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before you filed for benefits. The wages the District is concerned with are the ones you earned from employers who paid into the unemployment insurance program. The District calculates which quarter you earned the most insured wages and determines your average weekly earnings. You receive half of that amount, rounded down to the nearest dollar, as your weekly benefit amount. To receive the maximum weekly benefit, you need about $8616 in wages in your highest earning quarter, as of 2011.
Maximum Claim Amount
In addition to limiting your weekly benefit amount by law, the District also limits your total claim amount. This law prevents you from using unemployment benefits as your primary income. D.C. unemployment claims are divided into benefit years. A benefit year is the 52 weeks that follow your initial claim date. When the Depart of Employment Services assigns you a maximum claim amount, it lasts until your benefit year is up. When your benefit year is up, you can start a new claim with a new maximum claim amount. As of March 2011, the maximum amount you can receive per claim in DC is 26 times your weekly benefit amount.
Calculating Claim Amounts
Although 26 times your weekly benefit amount is the most you can collect per claim year, the actual amount you can collect depends on your base period wages. DC looks at your total insured wages during your base period and your maximum claim amount is 50 percent of that number. If you divide 50 percent of your total base period wages by your weekly benefit amount, the result is the number of weeks you can collect unemployment in DC. If that is number is 26 or more, you will receive the maximum claim amount allowed by law.