Claiming Benefits for Unemployment in West Virginia
When evaluating an applicant’s WV unemployment benefits claim, he or she must have had sufficient earnings in covered employment to establish a “benefit year.” The unemployment insurance benefit year is the 52-week period during which unemployment benefits are available to the applicant. This does not mean they will receive 52 weeks of benefits. The benefit year starts on the Sunday he or she applied for unemployment benefits. That date becomes the “effective date” of the new unemployment claim. If the claim is for partial employment, the benefit year begins with the first week for which the employer gives the UI petitioner a Low Earnings Report.
When applicants claim unemployment in West Virginia, the Agency must then make decisions about whether or not the applicant is entitled to receive federal unemployment benefits. The Agency will determine if the applicant has sufficient wages to qualify for a “weekly benefit amount.” They will send the claimant Form WVUC-B-14B/T4, “Deputy’s Decision and Notice of Charges,” which is the claimant’s Notice of Monetary Eligibility. This notice will show:
• The 12-month “base period” used for the claim that determines the weekly benefit amount.
• The covered employers who paid the claimant the wages in the base period.
• The total covered base period wages.
• The beginning and end dates of the benefit year.
• If the claimant is eligible, the monetary weekly and “maximum benefit amount” he or she can receive during the benefit year.
In claiming benefits for unemployment, the claimant needs to review the Notice of Monetary Eligibility and verify that the information, including the employers and wages, is correct. If the unemployment benefits claim petitioner believes there is an error with the notice, he or she needs to take paystubs, W-2 statements and any other proof of wages to the local office and request a “Redetermination.” Applicants need to continue filing weekly claim certifications as instructed while the wages are being investigated.
For WV federal unemployment benefits, if the base period wages are correct and the word “ineligible” is marked on the form, this means the former worker cannot receive benefits at this time on a regular base period. The regular base period consists of the first four of the last five completed quarters immediately preceding the first day of the individual’s benefit year. In this case, the claimant may be eligible using the “alternate base period” which is the last four completed quarters immediately preceding the first day of the claimant’s benefit year. This alternate base period will be automatically explored if the claimant is ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits using the regular base period. It the claimant is still monetarily ineligible, he or she has the right to file another new claim application if they are unemployed in a later quarter.
Calculating Unemployment Benefits in West Virginia
If the word “eligible” is checked on a WV unemployment benefits claim, the former employee has met the sufficient wages requirement. The weekly unemployment insurance benefit amount shown on the form is based on the total covered wages paid during the base period. This does not mean that the petitioner has final approval to receive benefits though, as he or she has to meet all the other requirements to receive benefits. The Agency will then look at the UI petitioner’s separation from work and other issues such as their ability and availability for work to arrive at their decision for claimant eligibility. The former employee can determine their weekly benefit amount by going online or by contacting the local office. The online calculation does not include out-of-state wages, federal employment, or military wages.
In claiming benefits for unemployment, the applicant could receive up to 26 weekly benefits, which is called the maximum benefit amount. If applicants file their claim certificate each year and receive the full weekly benefit amount for each week, they will consume their balance after 26 weeks (six months) and have no available benefits for the remainder of their benefit year. An unemployment benefits extension, granted by the federal government, would increase the original maximum benefit amount.
If the WV unemployment insurance applicant works part-time, his or her weekly benefit will be reduced. Any gross earnings over $60 are deducted on a dollar-for-dollar basis from the weekly benefit payment. Also, the claimant will not begin receiving unemployment claim benefits until he or she serves a one-week waiting period. The waiting period only occurs once each benefit year. There is no payment for the waiting period and it can only be served after the application for unemployment benefits.
All West Virginia federal unemployment benefits are subject to federal and state income tax. When the initial claim is filed, the UI beneficiary may elect to have the Unemployment Compensation Division withhold and send federal income taxes in the amount of 10 percent of the gross weekly benefit payment to the Internal Revenue Service on their behalf. However, state income tax cannot be withheld in West Virginia. Form 1099-G, which is sent to the applicant, will include the amount of any taxes withheld.
The WV unemployment benefits claim is also affected by school attendance and training, pensions, retirement, Social Security benefits and Social Security disability, bonuses, wages in lieu of notice, holiday or vacation pay, back-pay awards, and workers’ compensation awards.
Filing for the Weekly Unemployment Benefit in West Virginia
After the initial application has been approved, the former worker needs to file a weekly certification to claim unemployment benefits on an ongoing basis. Each week runs on a calendar basis from Sunday through Saturday and the applicant cannot file a weekly federal unemployment benefits claim certification until the week has ended. The filing window would then be 12:01 a.m. Sunday EST through 5 p.m. Friday EST in which to file the weekly claim certification for the prior week.
The two options available to file for unemployment in a timely manner include: online using the Interactive Web Response System, and by telephone using the Interactive Voice System. The claimant must have both his Personal Identification Number (PIN) and Social Security number available to complete the filing process. Both systems will ask the former worker questions relating to their availability for work during the week they are claiming, the number of job contacts they made, any income or earnings they may have had during the week, and various other topics.