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Benefit rights
  • State UC law defines that worker benefit rights depend on the person’s experience in covered employment in a past period of time.

No federal standards exist for benefits in terms of qualifying requirements, benefit amounts, or duration of regular benefits. Hence, there is no common pattern of benefit provisions comparable to that in coverage and financing. The states have developed diverse and complex formulas for determining workers’ benefit rights.

Under all state unemployment compensation (UC) laws, a worker’s benefit rights depend on the person’s experience in covered employment in a past period of time, called the base period. The time period during which the weekly rate and the duration of benefits determined for a given worker apply to such worker is called the benefit year.

The qualifying wage or employment provisions attempt to measure the worker’s attachment to the labor force. An insured worker must also be free from disqualification for causes which vary among the states. All but a few states require a claimant to serve a waiting period before the person’s unemployment may be compensable.

All states determine an amount payable for a week of total unemployment. A week of total unemployment is usually a week in which the claimant performs no work and receives no pay. In most states, workers are partially unemployed in a week of less than full-time work when employees earn less than the weekly benefit amount. The benefit payment for such a week is the difference between the weekly benefit amount and the part-time earnings, usually with a small disregard as a financial inducement to take part-time work.