How Much Do I Have to Make to Get Maximum Unemployment Benefits in Oregon?


Oregon bases unemployment benefits on your previous wages, meaning that it considers earnings before filing to determine eligibility and payment amounts. Regardless of what you made in the year before you filed your claim, Oregon state law limits your benefits to no more than $496 per week. To receive this maximum, you must have earned at least $35,428.57 in covered wages during your base period.

Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount

The unemployment weekly benefit amount is the amount you are eligible to collect per week. State law limits the WBA is limited to prevent you from collecting large unemployment payments. It also preserves the spirit of the program by keeping claimants with previous high earnings from draining the fund. The maximum WBA may vary by the year. As of April 2011, your Oregon weekly compensation payment will be no more than $496.

Calculating Your Weekly Benefit Amount

When Oregon determines how much to give you per week, it uses a formula mandated by state law. Your weekly benefit amount is 1.4 percent of your total base period covered wages. This means that you must have earned $35,428.57 or more in your base period from covered wages to qualify for the state maximum of $496.

Base Period

Only the covered wages that occur during your base period can count toward your weekly benefit amount calculation. Your base period is the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before you filed your initial unemployment claim. Some claimants don’t make enough wages in their base periods to qualify for benefits and the state allows them to use their alternate base period. The alternate base period is the last four full calendar quarters.

Covered Wages

You can only use earnings from your base period that are covered wages to determine your weekly benefit amount. Covered wages are those that you earn from employment covered under Oregon’s unemployment compensation laws. The state excludes self-employment, independent contract work or work that you paid only through commission under these laws. A good way to determine if work was covered or not is whether you received a 1099 tax form or a W-2 tax forms for the work in question.

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