Information on furloughs and filing for unemployement

Thanks to Judy Wolf (author) and Carolyn Doyle (proofer) for their work on this question and answer and step-by-step guide to dealing with furloughs and filing for unemployment in Indiana.

CAN I TAKE ONE FURLOUGH DAY OFF AT A TIME AND QUALIFY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT?
NO. This is a bit complicated. Keep reading.

DO I NEED TO TAKE A FULL WEEK OF FURLOUGH OFF TO QUALIFY?
NO. BUT you need to figure it out carefully. See the next entry.

SO, HOW MUCH OR LITTLE FURLOUGH TIME DO I HAVE TO TAKE OFF TO INITIALLY QUALIFY?
IT DEPENDS. The state has a formula to figure the weekly unemployment benefit you qualify for. You need to have GROSS EARNINGS that are less than that amount to initially qualify for unemployment. So, if your state benefit would be $200 a week, you would need to have GROSS EARNINGS of less than $200 in a week this quarter to qualify initially. That means you might be able to work part of a week. That would qualify you to draw unemployment NEXT quarter, if there’s another furlough that the union agrees to.

As a reminder, GROSS EARNINGS are what the company pays you BEFORE taking out all your deductions (taxes, health insurance, etc.). The easiest way to figure it is to use your hourly wage/rate. That is your gross earning rate.

WHAT’S THIS ABOUT INITIALLY QUALIFYING?
There is a one-week waiting period in Indiana.

WHAT’S THE WAITING PERIOD MEAN?
You don’t get unemployment pay during the first week you are unemployed (or on enough furlough to qualify, in our case).

Presuming the company will ask for additional furloughs in the future, and if Guild members agree to take them, you would get unemployment pay in the future if you do things correctly this quarter and file correctly in the future.

SO, I HAVE TO TAKE A FULL WEEK OFF TO “SERVE” THE ONE-WEEK WAITING PERIOD REQUIREMENT?
NOT NECESSARILY. You just have to be off enough time that your GROSS EARNINGS for the week are BELOW the weekly unemployment benefit you qualify for.

For now, let’s say your hourly rate is $12 and you had no OT in ’08 (this makes it easy to roughly calculate your benefit; fuller sample is given below). Your weekly benefit would be roughly $270. So, to meet the one-week waiting period, you’d need to have GROSS EARNINGS of less than $270 from the company in a week. Working only 22 hours would get you in just under the $270. Because we can’t split our days off (work part of a day, be on furlough part of a day), that would be 2 full days for someone working either 8- or 10-hour days. So, you could be on furlough 3 days (for those on 8-hour shifts) or 2 days (for those on 10-hour shifts), and you should be OK.

The state weekly unemployment maximum is $390, so if your GROSS EARNINGS are less than $390 in a week — either by working or getting paid time off (vacation, personal leave days, sick days, holidays, etc.) — you would be able to meet the one-week waiting period requirement.

In the future, if you want to get the full weekly benefit you qualify for, you’d need to take a week off. If you don’t, you’d qualify for a partial benefit. So, if you’re at $12/hour and worked 2 days and went on furlough for 3 days (on an 8-hour shift), you’d have GROSS EARNINGS of $192. You’d get unemployment of roughly $78.

HOW ARE WEEKLY BENEFITS FIGURED? GET OUT YOUR CALCULATORS!
First, you need to have earned at least $2,750 in the base period. For this quarter, that means all of 2008. You also need to have earned at least $1,650 in the last half of your base period. For this quarter, that means July-December 2008.

Now, for this quarter (April-June), your benefits will be calculated based on the 2008 quarter in which you earned the most money.

For those who earned $40,000 or more in 2008 (and this is rounded up a bit), you don’t have to do any math. Your weekly benefit will be $390, the state maximum.

For those who earned less than $40,000 in 2008, here’s what you can do to get a rough idea of your benefit. This translates, again roughly, to anyone making $18 an hour or less.  It’s clearly easier if you didn’t have any OT.

NOTE: The state will calculate your precise benefit once you enter all the appropriate information in the system when you file the first time. So if you don’t want to do this, don’t.

  1. Figure out the 2008 quarter in which you earned the most money.
  2. Figure 5% of the first $2,000.
  3. Figure how much you earned above that $2,000.
  4. Figure 4% of that amount.
  5. Add the results of 2 and 4 together, and you’ll get a good idea of your weekly benefit.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you earn $12 an hour and had no OT last year (this just makes it simple). You would have earned about $6,240 in each quarter. So, following the instructions above:

  1. $6,240.
  2. 0.5 x $2,000 = $100.
  3. $6,240-$2,000=$4,240.
  4. 0.4 x $4,240=$169.60.
  5. $100 + $169.60 = $269.60.

Again, this is a rough amount.

AND NEXT QUARTER (3rd Q of this year), your benefits will be figured on the second, third and fourth quarters of 2008 and the first quarter of ’09. You discount the most recently completed quarter; your base is the 4 quarters immediately before that.

For the 4th Q this year (Oct.-Dec.), you’d ignore the 3rd Q (July-Sept.), and your base would be 3rd/4th Q of ’08 and 1st/2nd Q of ’09.

WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM WEEKLY BENEFIT?
$390. This is for those earning roughly $40,000 a year. Those earning less will qualify for a smaller weekly benefit.

HOW ARE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS PAID? BY A VISA DEBIT CARD.
A card will be mailed to you after your first payment is approved.  The Indiana Department of Workforce Development, which handles unemployment, says on its Web site that you you can use the phone to transfer funds free from the card to your savings or checking account, and the money will be there in 24-72 hours. The INI credit union does not appear to have this capacity right now, based on a talk with Jane. You also can use the debit card at a number of ATMs (a list is on the site — http://www.in.gov/dwd/2579.htm), with one free transaction a week, and at merchants that take Visa charge cards.

DO I HAVE TO LOOK FOR WORK WHILE ON FURLOUGHT?
NO. Normally, when you collect unemployment, you are supposed to do 3 work searches a week — apply for a job, call a potential employer, etc.
Because we are not allowed to work for a competitor, and we have a definite return to work date, this is not an issue. When you fill out a claim, it will ask if you expect to return to work (yes) and when. You’ll put in your scheduled return date, and the state will consider that information, in essence, to be a work search waiver from The Star.WHAT IF I WORK TWO JOBS?
There are different possibilities here. Please call the Department of Workforce Development to check on your individual situation.

HOW TO FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT

THE FIRST WEEK YOU ARE ON FURLOUGH (OR TAKING ENOUGH DAYS OFF TO QUALIFY FOR YOUR WAITING PERIOD), YOU NEED TO FILE WITH THE STATE
During this week (weeks run Sunday-Saturday, according to the state), go online or in person and file for unemployment. If you go past Saturday, you can’t file for that week.

A state pamphlet says you’ll also have to fill out a fact-finding sheet about why you were laid off (the state considers the furloughs to be the same as layoffs).

After you file, the pamphlet says you’ll get a ‘Wage Transcript and Benefit Comparison” from the state. This breaks your earnings down by each quarter. Make sure everything looks right. You might need to call the paper (payroll is 444-8327) to check on your amounts if you think something’s wrong. If there is a problem, call a local office.

THE WEEK THAT YOU RETURN TO WORK, GO ONLINE OR IN PERSON AND FILL OUT A VOUCHER FOR THE WEEK YOU WERE ON FURLOUGH.
The first time you do this, you won’t get paid. This is for what the state calls your waiting period.

THE SECOND TIME YOU ARE ON FURLOUGH:
During the week you are off, go online or in person and reactivate your claim. This must be done sometime during the week (Sunday-Saturday) that you’re on furlough.

The week that you return to work, go online or in person and fill out a voucher for the previous week, when you were off.

This time, you will be paid (it’s now a debit card, mailed to you).

Basically, every time you are on furlough for a week, you will go through this two-step AND two-week process.

A
Say you take off the full week of May 4-8.
1) Sometime from May 3-9, file for unemployment.
2) Sometime from May 10-16, file a voucher for the week of May 4-8.
This is your waiting week, and you will get NO unemployment payment.

B
Say you figure out you can qualify for you waiting week by taking off
only 3 or 4 days in the week of May 4-8:

    1. Sometime from May 3-9, file for unemployment.
    2. Sometime from May 10-16, file a voucher for the week of May 3-9.

    This is your waiting week, and you will get NO unemployment payment.

    If there’s a furlough in the 3rd quarter:
    You will qualify for your full benefit only if you take the entire week off. Any GROSS EARNINGS from the company will cut, dollar-for-dollar, your unemployment benefit. If your GROSS EARNINGS from The Star that week are more than your weekly benefit amount, you’ll get NO unemployment.

    C
    If there’s a furlough in the 3rd quarter and you take off the full week of Aug. 17-21:

      1. Sometime from Aug. 16-22, reactivate your unemployment claim.
      2. Smetime from Aug. 23-29, file a voucher for the week of Aug. 16-22.
      1. After being processed and approved, a debit card with your full weekly benefit amount will be mailed to you.

    D
    If there’s a furlough in the 3rd quarter and you take off only part of the week of Aug. 17-21:

    1. Sometime from Aug. 16-22, reactivate your unemployment claim.
    2. Sometime from Aug. 23-29, file a voucher for the week of Aug. 16-22.
    3. After being processed and approved, a debit card with a PARTIAL PAYMENT will be mailed to you.

    To file online:
    Go to http://www.in.gov/dwd/2625.htm (this has a tutorial, plus a link to UPLink, which is the unemployment program). Warning: Sometimes the UPLink connection is quick; other times, it’s painfully slow. When you get to UPLink, go to the bottom and click on NEW USER if you’ve not filed before.

    To file in person, go to:
    *Indiana Government Center South, 10 N. Senate, across from the Capitol building. Go in the main public entrance on Washington Street, then go to the Department of Workforce Development.

    *You also may file in person at these WorkOne Centers ONLY:

    • EAST: 2525 N. Shadeland Ave. Phone: 358-4500.
    • WEST: 10th and I-465, at 805 Beachway Drive, Suite 110. Phone: 246-5400

    If you don’t have a computer but want to file online, go to:

    • Any public library
    • Any WorkOne Center. Ones listed above plus:
    • COLLEGE PARK: 8910 Purdue Road, Suite 320. Phone: 228-0682.
    • IVY TECH MAIN campus: 101 W. 28th St. Phone: 921-4881
    • LAWRENCE (Ivy Tech campus): 9301 E. 59th St., Room 328. Phone: 546-7180.

    Hours for College Park, East, Lawrence and West:

    • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    • Thursday: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Hours for Ivy Tech MAIN campus:

    • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Thursday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • The work week is considered Sunday to Saturday.

    OUTSIDE MARION COUNTY:
    All are open 8-4:30 M-F.

    • Boone: 125 Lakeshore Drive, Lebanon. Phone (765) 482-0160.
    • Hamilton: 10204 Lantern Road, Rishers. Phone: 841-8194.
    • Hancock: 836 S. State St., Greenfield. Phone: 462-7711.
    • Hendricks: none.
    • Johnson: 600 Banta St., Franklin. Phone: 736-5531.
    • Madison: 222 E. 10th St., Suite B, Anderson. Phone: (765) 642-4981.
    • Morgan: 490 Saint Clair St., Mooresville. Phone: (765) 834-3907.
    • Shelby: 2325 Intelliplex Drive, Suite 204, Shelbyville. Phone: 392-3251.

    The claim form asks for basic info — name, address, phone, e-mail (if you have one), education level, race, status on various things (veteran, disabled, citizen, etc.), previous workers comp, employer, when you were laid off, when you expect to return to work, your pay (hourly, weekly, monthly), if you want federal income taxes withheld, etc.

    12 Comments

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