Losing a job leaves people with worries about their financial stability and future. The Virginia Employment Commission seeks to alleviate these problems with unemployment compensation. This state program can last a claimant up to 26 weeks. However, at the time of writing, federal extensions make it possible for Virginians to receive benefits for up to 99 weeks. Of course, a person's earning history and circumstances may limit payment amounts and duration.
A claimant's prior earnings play an important part in determining how long her benefits will last. A person must have made at least $18,900.01 in two quarters of the previous one-year period to receive the maximum benefit allowance of $9,828 paid over the course of 26 weeks. Those with lower earnings histories can receive as little as $648 over the course of 12 weeks.
Working part time or temporarily while having an open unemployment claim can help extend the amount of time a claimant can receive benefits. Earnings reduce the amount of unemployment a beneficiary receives, conserving his allocation, which then lasts longer. For example, if a person who receives the weekly maximum payment of $378 per week works a temporary job for two weeks at $600 per week, he will receive no unemployment benefits during those weeks because his earnings exceed his benefits. That means that if he had been on unemployment for one month and had a remaining claim balance of $8,316, his balance will remain unchanged for two extra weeks, enabling his claim to last 28 weeks.
As of 2011, the federal government has programs to help those affected by the economic crisis of 2008 to 2009 by extending unemployment benefits. Seven tiers of benefits currently exist. As applicants exhaust their state benefits, the VEC automatically processes their application for the first tier of federal benefits which last up to 21 weeks. At the end of each tier, the VEC reviews applicants' situations to make sure they still qualify for benefits before approving them for the next tier. Federal benefits can help to provide up to 99 weeks of continuous coverage with maximum benefits. Congress has approved funds to last until June 2012.
Unemployment recipients must meet program requirements to continue to receive benefits. Both Virginia and federal law require beneficiaries to actively search for work and to keep logs of their employer contacts and follow-up efforts. Additionally, claimants cannot refuse suitable work and must take advantage of VEC resources and job matching services. Benefit recipients who abuse the system can not only have their benefits terminated, but may have to repay money they wrongfully received.