Can I Go Back on Unemployment After a Contract Job?

If you found a contract job while on unemployment that required you to work full-time hours and paid you more than your weekly unemployment award, you had to leave the unemployment insurance program. Working as an independent contractor is a form of self-employment because while the employer directs the results, you have full control over the methods. After the contract job is over, you can go back to unemployment as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. These vary depending on whether you're reopening the claim or refiling it.

  1. Benefit Year Questions

    • The first question you have to ask is whether your benefit year is still in effect. Your benefit year is the 52 weeks that follow your initial claim week the last time you were on unemployment. If you're still within your benefit year, you would reopening your previous unemployment claim, continuing it. If you're outside the benefit year, you need to refile your claim, starting the process over.

    Reopening a Claim

    • When you reopen an unemployment claim, you're picking up where you left off the last time you were on unemployment. Your compensation amounts will remain the same as you were collecting before your took the contract job. One important thing to note is your maximum benefit amount, the amount you're allowed to collect per benefit year. Your maximum benefit amount carries over to the reopened claim, too. For example, if your maximum amount was $1,000 and you already collected $800 the last time, your reopened claim will close after you've collected the remaining $200.

    Refiling a Claim

    • Refiling an unemployment claim is the same process as filing a new unemployment claim. You have to meet all of the same eligibility requirements any new claimant would. Your unemployment compensation isn't normally the same as the last time you were on unemployment. Instead, the state recalculates your benefits based on the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before you refiled. Your maximum benefit amount will be recalculated, too and these limits will last another 52 weeks.

    Requalification Requirements

    • Contract work isn't covered under the unemployment compensation laws, which leads to two possible eligibility snags with refiling a claim. The first is the previous wage requirement during the 15 to 18 months before you refiled your claim. Since contract work and unemployment benefits don't count, you must have worked the state required amount of covered employment during that time. Some states also require a certain amount of covered hours worked or covered wages earned in the time between your last unemployment claim and your new one when you refile. These are different than the general previous wages requirement because it only applies to those refiling claims and it must occur in between the two claims.

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