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Kansas Unemployment Insurance
The Kansas Department of Labor administers Kansas Unemployment Insurance with the intent to distribute temporary supplemental income to workers separated from employment through no fault of their own. The Unemployment Insurance program is funded at the federal and state level. This program is important to the Kansas workforce, as it is essential in supporting those impacted by economic recessions at the community level. As of March 2016, the unemployment rate was reported at 3.9 percent.
Unemployment insurance is not a form of welfare, it is an insurance program funded by monies in the form of a payroll tax paid for by employers throughout the state. It is considered taxable income, and must be claimed on your state and federal income tax returns for the year. Employees do not have taxes withheld from their wages.
When you submit your initial application for unemployment insurance benefits, you have the option to have taxes withheld from your weekly benefits. Should you qualify by meeting specific wage and work requirements, the Kansas Department of Labor will compensate you with weekly unemployment insurance benefit payments.
Unemployment Eligibility and Qualifications
General Benefits Eligibility Criteria
Determination of Kansas unemployment benefits is based the reason provided for being unemployed, the length of time that an individual has previously worked, and meeting a minimum wage threshold during a base period. While details on each criterion can be found below and can be used as a general guideline, the only way to determine eligibility is to apply with accurate information. If the information provided is misleading or false, it could result in a denial of benefits or even fines and/or imprisonment.
Work Eligibility Criteria
The first work eligibility criteria to be met is that you must be unemployed through no fault of your own, implying that choosing to leave work voluntarily without good cause would be an automatic disqualification. There are some exceptions such as quitting based on medical advice by a licensed health care provider, unsafe working conditions, harassment claims, violation of the work agreement, transfer of a spouse from a military job or a personal emergency. Also, being fired for gross misconduct (i.e. extreme violation of job duty or expectations) will usually result in a disqualification.
The second work eligibility criteria require that you be gainfully employed in two or more quarters of the base period. The base period is the first four of the previous five completed quarters from the filing date. For example, if a claim were filed on July 1, 2017, the base period would be April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017.
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Finally, if you are self-employed, you would not be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.
Wages Eligibility Criteria
The wages eligibility criteria require that you earned wages in at least two calendar quarters during your base period. You base period is the first four of the last five calendar quarter previous to the date you filed your initial claim for unemployment insurance benefits. The determination of eligibility will be built on a calculation of 30 times the minimum Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA). The minimum and maximum WBA in Kansas changes annually. In 2016, the maximum WBA was set at $474, and the minimum at $118.
Severance pay should be accurately reported to the Kansas Department of Labor. While it will not impact the number of weeks that you are eligible, it will determine the date that you can begin to receive benefits. If the package that was received as a lump sum were meant to provide you with six weeks of pay, unemployment benefits would not begin until the end of the six-week period.
Unemployment Availability Limits
In Kansas, you may receive 16 to 26 weeks depending on the unemployment rate of the state when your claim is filed. The rate is based on a three-month average. If the level of unemployment for the state is less than 4.5 percent, up to 16 weeks will be available. If the rate is between 4.5 and 6 percent, then 20 weeks are allowed. Finally, for an unemployment rate of over 6 percent, 26 weeks are available. As of October 2016, the Kansas unemployment rate is 3.9 percent. Also, the number of weeks that are available for an individual is determined on how long you were previously employed and total income earned during that period. The total amount will be your Maximum Benefit Amount and is described in detail in the Unemployment Benefits Compensation section.
Also, you would be denied continuing benefits if you:
- Are not available to search for employment or start work immediately
- Become self-employed
- Receive a settlement
- Are an education professional between school terms
- A professional athlete between seasons and have a contractual agreement for future employment
- Refused suitable work
If the state is experiencing a higher than usual unemployment rate, as determined by federal and state standards, there may be an option for additional weeks of benefits to be made available to those that have already exhausted their benefits. The guidelines for extended benefits are outlined by the federal government as it is a federally funded program. At this point, Kansas does not have extended benefits available.
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