How Much Will I Collect in Unemployment Benefits in Washington?
In Washington, you can earn up to $790 per week in unemployment benefits under state law. Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act"), Congress has authorized an additional $600 in benefits per week, on top of your state benefit amount. These additional benefits, called federal pandemic unemployment compensation, expire on July 31, 2020.
Every state has its own rules for calculating unemployment benefits. Typically, the amount you receive each week is based on your earnings when you were employed. After all, unemployment benefits are intended to replace some of the income you lost along with your job, and tide you over until you find new work.
Calculating Your Benefit Amount
Your weekly unemployment benefit amount depends on your earnings during the base period.
In Washington, your weekly benefit amount will be 3.85% of your average quarterly earnings in the two highest paid quarters of the base period.
Currently, the most you can receive under Washington law each week is $790 per week; the minimum amount you can receive is $188 per week. These limits are adjusted from time to time for inflation. Until July 31, 2020, however, every unemployment check will include an additional $600 in federal pandemic unemployment compensation.
If You Earn Money While Collecting Unemployment Benefits
Once you get a new job that pays more than you are receiving in unemployment, you will no longer be eligible to receive benefits. But what if you are only able to pick up odd jobs and small amounts of work here and there? As long as you don’t earn too much from occasional work, you will still be eligible for unemployment benefits.
In most states, as long as you earn less than your weekly benefit amount (or a bit more, in some states), you can still collect unemployment benefits. However, your benefits will be reduced by what you earn. A certain amount of what you earn will be disregarded: You will be able to keep it, and it won’t be subtracted from your benefit amount. Although this amount is generally small, this set-aside is intended to create an incentive for people to work, rather than just collecting unemployment benefits.
The amount that is disregarded when calculating your partial unemployment benefit is either a set dollar amount or a percentage of your usual weekly benefit. Contact the Washington Employment Security Department to find out how much you can earn without jeopardizing your benefits.
Benefits Are Taxable
Believe it or not, unemployment benefits count as taxable income, at least under federal law. You will have to declare the full amount you receive and, if your total income is high enough, pay taxes on your benefits.
If you wish, you can ask Washington to withhold 10% of your weekly check for federal income tax. To make this request, file Form W4-V, Voluntary Withholding Request.
Although a handful of states don’t tax unemployment benefits, most do.
You may also be interested in:
To qualify for unemployment benefits in Washington, you must meet a minimum earnings requirement and you must be unemployed through no fault of your own.
Find out how many weeks of unemployment benefits are available in Washington; pandemic emergency unemployment compensation is covered, too.
Learn the four requirements for continuing to receive unemployment benefits in Washington and how and where to apply for weekly unemployment benefits.