How your unemployment benefits are determined

Learn more about how your unemployment benefits are calculated.

Calculating your weekly benefit amount

If you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits, you will receive a weekly benefit amount of approximately 50% of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum set by law. As of October 2017, the maximum weekly benefit amount is $769 per week. Follow the steps below to calculate the amount of unemployment benefits you may be eligible to receive each week.

Step 1: List your total wages in the last 4 quarters in which you worked.

Quarter 1

Quarter 2

Quarter 3

Quarter 4

$7,800

$7,800

$8,840

$10,000

 Step 2: Add the top two highest quarters of wages.

Quarter 1

Quarter 2

Quarter 3

Quarter 4

$7,800

$7,800

$8,840

$10,000

In this example, Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 were the highest quarters:

$8,840 + 10,000 = $18,840

Note: If you worked 2 or fewer quarters, use the highest quarter of wages.

Step 3: Divide the sum of the two highest quarters from Step 2 by 26 (the number of weeks in the combined quarters)

$18,840 ÷ 26 = $724.61

In this example, $724.61 is your average weekly wage.

Note: If you worked 2 or fewer quarters, divide the highest quarter by 13 weeks to determine your average weekly wage.

Step 4: Divide your weekly wage from Step 3 in half to determine your weekly benefit amount.

$724.61 ÷ 2 = $362.30, rounded to the nearest dollar = $362

In this example, $362 is your weekly benefit amount.

Calculating your maximum benefit credit

The total amount of benefits you can receive in your benefit year is called your maximum benefit credit. Your maximum benefit credit is calculated as the lesser of either:

  • 30 times your weekly benefit amount, or
  • 36% of the total wages in your base period

The following example shows how to determine your maximum benefit credit.

Example

If your weekly benefit amount is $362, multiply this number by 30:
$362.30 x 30 = $10,860

To calculate 36% of the total wages in your base period, add your wages earned from each quarter during your base period:
$7,800 + $7,800 + $8,840 + 10,000 = $34,400 (total wages)

If your total wages are $34,400, multiply this number by 0.36 (36%):
$34,440 x 0.36 = $12,398

Since $10,860 is less than $12,398, your maximum benefit credit would be $10,860.

Calculating your duration of benefits

The number of weeks you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits is called your duration of benefits. Your duration of benefits is calculated by dividing your maximum benefit credit by your weekly benefit amount.

The maximum number of weeks you can receive full unemployment benefits is 30 weeks (capped at 26 weeks during periods of extended benefits and low unemployment). However, many individuals qualify for less than 30 weeks of coverage.

The following examples show how to determine your duration of benefits.

Example 1

Your maximum benefit credit is $10,860 and your weekly benefit amount is $362.
$10,860 ÷ $362 = 30 weeks                 
In this example, you would be eligible to receive $362 for 30 weeks.

Example 2

Your maximum benefit credit is $8,688 and your weekly benefit amount is $362.
$8,688 ÷ $362 = 24 weeks
In this example, you would be eligible to receive $362 for 24 weeks.

Dependency allowance

If you are the whole or main support of a child, you may be eligible for a weekly dependency allowance of $25 per dependent child. Spouses are not included.

The total dependency allowance you receive cannot be more than 50% of your weekly benefit amount. You may be eligible for the dependency allowance if you are the main support for any child who is:

  • Under the age of 18
  • Under the age of 24 and a full-time student at an educational institution
  • Over the age of 18 and incapacitated due to a mental or physical disability

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