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  • There is a long-standing myth that you cannot work and claim unemployment benefits. This is of course not true. The government actually encourages unemployed workers to take on any type of work or even work as unpaid volunteers if paid work is not available. The only caveat, of course, is that unemployed workers have to declare any income they receive.

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    Your local Unemployed Insurance Agency will deduct from your unemployment benefits any income you generate over a certain threshold. This threshold is the partial benefit credit. Any income you make over and above the partial benefit credit is deducted dollar-for-dollar from your unemployment benefits. Once your deduction reaches your weekly benefit amount, you cease to receive unemployment benefits. I guess this is why there is a widespread belief that you can’t work while receiving unemployment benefits. Some might say it is not worth your time to work, if most of it is going to be deducted from your benefits. If your goal is to milk as much as possible from social benefits while working the least as possible, then you would be right. Of course, there are situations, such as single parents of young children or unemployed workers who want to train for an industry in high demand, where working to receive only slightly more than you would get by staying at home does not make much sense.

    However, in general working part-time while you receive benefits is a smart choice. It enables you to remain in the labor market, which looks good on your resume and allows you to maintain and build your contact network, which can make finding a full-time job easier.

    However, how can you calculate how much you will get in unemployment benefits once you declare your weekly income? No worries, it could hardly be easier to workout.

    First calculate your partial benefit credit. In Pennsylvania your partial benefit credit is 40 percent of your weekly benefit rate. So, all you have to do is multiply your weekly benefit amount by 0.4 to calculate your partial benefit credit. For example, if you have a weekly benefit amount of $300 you could earn up to $120 (300 x 0.4) from a part time job without receiving any type of deduction.

    What happens though if your make more than your partial benefit credit? As mentioned above, any income over and above your partial benefit credit will be deducted dollar by dollar from your weekly benefit rate.

    To calculate how much you will receive if you earn more on your part time job than your partial benefit credit, add your weekly benefit rate and your partial benefit credit and deduct your total weekly earnings from your part time job. So, for example, if you earn $200 on a part time job and your partial benefit credit rate is $120, your benefit amount after deductions would be $300 + $120 – $200 = $220. This would equal a deduction of $80 and a total weekly income of $420.

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