Basic Facts About Unemployment Benefits in Rhode Island
To claim unemployment benefits in Rhode Island, you must earn a minimum of at least $11,520 during a frame of time known as a “base period.” If you earned less than this amount, you would only be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if you meet all three of the requirements below:
• Your income was greater than $1,920 during at least one base period quarter.
• The total amount of your base period earnings was equal to or greater than 1.5 times your highest quarterly wages.
• You earned at least $3,840 total during the entire base period.
If your previous unemployment claim expired and you intend to file a new one, you must have worked since the expiration date of the last claim and earned at least 80 times the Rhode Island minimum wage amount.
You must file a weekly unemployment benefits claim in RI if you wish to receive compensation. When filing, your claim will begin the Sunday before the day you actually filed the claim, as long as you did not work or you earned less than your weekly benefit amount that week. Rhode Island uses a 52-week calendar period in regards to unemployment insurance coverage, and if you exceed your maximum benefit amount, you will need to apply to file any additional claims. All workers are required to wait a minimum of one week before filing their initial claim.
Calculating Your Weekly Rhode Island Unemployment Benefits
When you begin claiming benefits for unemployment in Rhode Island, your benefit rate will be equal to your weekly payment amount, not including your Dependency Allowances. This rate is equal to 3.85 percent of your average wage amount from your two highest-grossing base period quarters. It cannot exceed your maximum benefit amount, and once your rate is set, it will remain the same for the rest of the year. If you are allowed to claim unemployment benefits, the state will send you a Benefit Rate Decision letter in the mail. Your letter will display your rate and the wage information used to calculate it. As of July 2012, the maximum weekly benefit rate is $566.00 for all unemployed workers.
If you are the parent or legal guardian of any children under the age of 18, you may be eligible for a Dependency Allowance. If your child is over the age of 18, he or she may be considered a dependent if he or she is mentally or physically disabled. Only natural, legally adopted children, stepchildren, and court-appointed wards count as dependents, and you will be required to provide the social security number of each dependent when filing a federal unemployment benefits claim. If you qualify for a Dependency Allowance, you will receive an amount that is equal to or greater than 5 percent of your weekly benefit rate or $15. You can claim up to five dependents, and you cannot claim any children who are born while you are claiming benefits for unemployment.
How Long Can You Claim Benefits in Rhode Island?
You are allowed to claim unemployment benefits in Rhode Island for a maximum of 26 weeks, but the actual amount of time you can claim will be determined by a set mathematical formula. The monetary determination letter you receive in the mail will explain how long you are eligible to receive benefits, but you can estimate your amount of time using the following guidelines:
• Multiply 33 percent or .33 by your Base Period earnings.
• Divide the amount above by your weekly benefit amount.
• The final figure after performing the step above is equal to the number of weeks you can claim benefits.
An unemployment benefits extension may be available if you exceed your maximum number of weeks.
Paying Taxes on Your Rhode Island Unemployment Benefits
If you are claiming benefits for unemployment in Rhode Island, you will need to report your weekly benefit amount to the Internal Revenue Service. The state and federal governments classify unemployment benefits as taxable income, and you will be required to report your earnings on IRS Form 1099. You will receive this form in the mail at the end of January of next year, and you will need to remember that the government does not automatically withhold taxes from your unemployment taxes.
When you start claiming benefits for unemployment, you can estimate the amount of tax you think you will owe and pay four times a year. This method can be confusing, and if you underestimate the amount you owe or pay late, you will be subject to penalties the following year. To avoid this confusion, you can request that the state withholds a specified portion of your benefits each week.