Clarifying Claimant Unemployment Monetary Eligibility

July 29, 2015

Clarifying Claimant Unemployment Monetary Eligibility

Aside from being out of work, individuals seeking to collect unemployment benefits must demonstrate that they have met a minimum standard in earned wages just prior to their separation.

Every state agency has its own eligibility regulations and requirements that determine when claimants meet mandatory qualifications to receive unemployment benefits. The fundamental purpose of all state unemployment agencies is to appropriately compensate claimants who satisfy the work and wage credit qualifications, comply with work search and availability requirements, and are out of work through no fault of their own.

Normally, monetary claim eligibility is directly related to a claimant’s prior wages (during the base period). The benefit year maximum award represents approximately 50% in wage replacement. The tangible amount of the benefit compensation award is partially determined by total wages earned (wage credits) and duration of employment during the recent past, or the “base year.”

The most common “base period” is a consecutive 12 months comprising the first four of the last five previously completed calendar quarters preceding the quarter in which a claim is filed. Frequently, states also utilize an “alternative base period” consisting of the four most recent quarters’ wages or another valid time period of covered wages.


Unemployed workers that apply for benefits will establish a “benefit year” that continues throughout the ensuing 52 weeks. The total amount of benefits and the duration of time a claimant collects during an established benefit year is calculated by applying the wage credits (total gross pay accrued by the claimant during the base period) to a unique formula created by each state’s law.

All states have established a maximum and minimum amount of allowable benefits during the immediate fifty-two weeks after the date the unemployment claim is filed. The Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount (MWBA) is the most any claimant can collect during a week of the benefit year. The minimum standard or Minimum Weekly Benefit Amount (mWBA) represents the lowest benefit award based on wage requirements for an unemployed worker to receive any benefits.

The current highest maximum benefit award available is found in the state of Massachusetts at $1,047 and the lowest minimum award can be found in Hawaii at $5. For state-by-state unemployment cost information, including benefit award amount, click here.

Watch for the next article on “Qualifying Reasons for Claimant Eligibility”



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We first started using First Nonprofit’s Unemployment Savings Program when we were a small startup nonprofit.  We didn’t have an HR department and needed expertise in the event that an unemployment claim was made.  We knew we were eligible to be a reimbursing employer, but weren’t sure how to navigate that process.  They made it easy to set things up, plan for, and then manage claims when they came at a very reasonable cost. The amount of time and stress they’ve saved us dealing with all this has been worth way more than the cost.  We’ve now grown to a large nonprofit and do have an HR department but have no plans to stop using their services.  I highly recommend them to every nonprofit I come into contact with!


Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL

It has been our sincere pleasure to maintain a strong, vibrant business partnership with First Nonprofit. We greatly admire their strong industry knowledge, technical expertise, constant professionalism, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. They are always extremely responsive, personable and provide us with the necessary guidance and recommendations on a numerous variety of employment scenarios.

Thresholds, Chicago, IL

NYCON members who use First Nonprofit’s programs enjoy enduring savings and improved efficiency. Our association knows that success, because from the beginning, we achieved the same great benefits. Great savings, seamless technology, and responsive service. NYCON highly recommends First Nonprofit’s remarkable unemployment solutions.

New York Council of Nonprofits, Albany, NY

Visually Impaired Preschool Services has been a client of First Non-Profit since it was first offered as a benefit of VisionServe Alliance. We completed a thorough evaluation of cash savings to our agency before taking advantage of this wonderful benefit and it has been a very wise decision. Our experience with the processes from accounting to claims have been professional, expeditious and easy.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Luckily for us, our interactions regarding any issues with staffing has been very minimal! I can say that all other interactions with regards to billing, 941 reporting, etc. have been extremely pleasant, accommodating and easy to work with. Kim Ghanayem is always prompt, professional and friendly. Thank you so much!

Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

First Nonprofit has been easy to work with and makes the administrative process easier and smoother. We enjoy working with you.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY