A Granite Stater is eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) if they experienced a layoff or saw a significant reduction in hours. When their UI benefit is exhausted, they will likely be eligible for the federal government's Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). After that point, they may be further eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The federal unemployment assistance was initially provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act, which was signed into law in March 2020.
The benefits have been continued through September 2021 through the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law in March 2021. A self-employed person or independent contractor will likely be eligible for PUA. The work search requirement and the waiting week have been waived during the pandemic.
Weekly Benefit Amount
New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES) determines a claimant’s weekly benefit amount (WBA), which ranges between $167 minimum and $427 maximum, depending on their earnings in prior calendar quarters. A claimant who is self employed or an independent contractor will need to provide their federal tax return or 1099 forms to determine their WBA. The WBA is based on how much a person earned in their base period, defined as the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the date the claim was filed.
An individual who is self employed and who wants to qualify for a WBA higher than the minimum rate must have earnings from the prior year of $16,500 or more. An individual can share information about their prior year’s earnings with NHES by providing a federal income tax return for that year. If they have not filed their return yet, they can submit other documents that show proof of income, like a contract or business records.
UI, PEUC and PUA
A claimant has 26 weeks of unemployment insurance available. When they have exhausted these benefits, NHES will indicate what type of unemployment benefits they will be eligible for next. NHES makes this determination without the claimant having to refile. As of December 27, 2020, a claimant will remain eligible to receive their WBA, as well as an additional $300 provided through the American Rescue Plan Act. This situation will continue until September 4, 2021.
Forms and Timing of Benefits
NHES currently provides unemployment benefits in the form of paper checks mailed to the claimant or Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT). (NHES is considering offering electronic access cards like debit cards to send unemployment benefits payments.) It typically takes several days for NHES to process a weekly claim and issue a benefit payment. In order to receive funds in a timely manner, a claimant should certify as early as possible.
Getting Started With Filing
A person should get set up to file for benefits by creating a new account in NHES’ Workforce Connect system. They should then certify weekly on New Hampshire’s Workforce Connect Dashboard. Federal stimulus payments are not wages, so a claimant should not report them as earnings.
Determining UI Eligibility
A claimant is eligible for unemployment benefits if they lost work through no fault of their own or they quit a job because the employer was not following COVID-19 safety protocols. A job loss or reduction in hours may be due to the pandemic or can occur because of other reasons. Pandemic-related reasons for a layoff or job loss include the place of business being closed due to the danger posed by the coronavirus and the employee needing to stay home to care for children because schools were closed for in-person learning.
Additional reasons for needing to file for benefits include being diagnosed with COVID-19, being required to quarantine for a certain period on the advice of a health care provider, being unable to reach the job because of a public health emergency related to the pandemic, or caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
On June 15, 2020, New Hampshire Governor Sununu issued Executive Order 52, which caused the state’s Stay-at-Home Order to expire. Executive Order 52 substituted that requirement with the Safer-at-Home Advisory. For claimants, the shift means a person cannot qualify for unemployment benefits by stating they cannot work because of compliance with the Stay-at-Home Order.
Returning to Work
Claimants can continue to file for benefits as they return to work. A person can work part time and still be considered eligible for benefits. A claimant is allowed to earn up to 30 percent of their WBA without any reduction in benefits. For every dollar earned above 30 percent of their weekly benefit, NHES will reduce their benefit dollar-for-dollar.
An individual who returns to full-time work is no longer eligible for benefits. A claimant does not need to notify the department about their return to full-time work; they can simply stop filing for benefits.
Guidance for School Reopening
As New Hampshire schools reopen for in-person learning, the New Hampshire Department of Education is updating its guide for parents and guardians about districts’ plans. A parent or guardian who is the primary caregiver of a child attending a school that is reopening for hybrid learning may qualify for unemployment benefits if they cannot work during the hours they remain home to care for their child.
A parent or guardian whose child is in a district that offers a choice between in-person learning at the school full-time or remote learning at home full-time, and chooses remote learning, may not qualify for unemployment benefits. This is because the school is open for students to be physically present.
An individual who has received an overpayment should enter into a payment agreement with NHES by completing a financial affidavit and sending it to the NHES. While this document is pending, the department will not take action to collect an overpayment other than to offset future benefits. If an overpayment is due to fraud or failure to report earnings, NHES will submit it for offset against a claimant’s federal income tax refund. An individual can request a waiver of their overpayment by completing a waiver request and a financial affidavit and sending these documents to NHES.
Searching for Work
As of March 2021, NHWorks offices, including the largest NHES office in Concord, remain closed to the public. All meetings and workshops at NHES offices are canceled. Candidates can search for jobs online using the new NH Jobs portal. They can also receive assistance from NHES online and over the phone. NHES has started holding virtual job fairs online at scheduled times.
New Hampshire offers a Job Match system that helps employers and employees. An applicant can use the system to find a job, build a resume and explore different careers. Job Match also allows candidates to ask questions, watch self-paced training videos and tutorials, and learn information about their local labor markets.
Filing an Appeal
A claimant has 14 calendar days from when the determination about a matter like weekly benefits or fraud was issued, or mailed, to file an appeal. During the pandemic, hearings are taking place by phone or video conference. If a person cannot attend on the date scheduled, they may request a postponement in advance of the hearing. The Appeal Tribunal can grant or deny such a request. While a person is waiting for an appeal to be processed, they should continue to certify weekly.
UI Benefits and Taxes
A claimant is required to pay income tax on their unemployment benefits. The information a recipient of unemployment benefits needs to file their 2020 federal income tax return is provided on Form 1099-G for 2020. This form is available in a claimant’s unemployment benefit account. If a person has repaid any benefits, like an overpayment, information relating to the repayment information also should be in their Form 1099-G.
Form 1099-G covers the calendar year January through December. If a person has moved since they began collecting unemployment benefits and wants to be mailed their 1099-G, they need to update their address in their NHES account. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward mail from NHES to a claimant’s new address.
WorkShare is a program for New Hampshire employers who want to avoid laying off full-time or permanent part-time employees. An employer can submit a WorkShare plan to NHES that reduces the number of hours that a class of employees works by 10 to 50 percent. The employer must spread out the reduction equally across all employees. Individuals in a WorkShare plan must work all the hours offered by the employer up to their usual weekly hours.
Current Claim Status Notice
A person who was noticed with a claim status in mid-March 2021 that says, “You do not have a current claim” should continue certifying weekly. This claim status was applied to people who had exhausted their benefit year or previously available benefits, but the person is likely to be eligible for 29 additional weeks authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act.
Monetarily Does Not Qualify Notice
If a self-employed person sees a notice that says “monetarily does not qualify” after filing for unemployment benefits, they should ignore this denial message. They should submit their 2019 federal income tax return or Form 1099 to allow NHES to verify their earnings. NHES will review these documents to ensure the claimant’s weekly benefit amount is appropriate given the amount of income the person earned in prior quarters in 2019.
Pay Held Notice
A claimant who sees a notice on their account that says “Pay Held” will need to answer questions from NHES to receive benefits payments. The person should continue certifying weekly until the matter has been resolved. The person should make sure they file during the seven-day period, Sunday through Saturday, that follows the week they claim. If they do not file within seven days, they will need to reopen their claim.
Lump Sum or Retroactive Payment
A claimant who has been filing weekly claims will likely need to wait until their claim has been processed to receive payment. Once NHES has deemed them eligible, payments will be retroactive. The individual will only receive benefits payments for the weeks for which they were eligible.
Scams and Security Concerns
Since the pandemic began, NHES has received information that nationwide scams are targeting people who file UI claims. Many scams are run from websites that request personal information, like a person’s credit card number. Some websites charge a fee to help people complete UI claims. NHES does not charge a fee for processing unemployment claims; it will never ask for a claimant’s credit card information.
A person who encounters a suspect site or individual should report the issue to a law enforcement agency and NHES. The person should also request assistance with filing a claim directly from NHES. In addition, the person should search for, and remove, malware and viruses from the computer on which they accessed the site.
Hours for Unemployment Hotline
NHES offers an Unemployment Hotline that claimants can call at 603-271-7700. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the hotline closed Saturday and Sunday. An individual who is self employed and has questions about eligibility and earnings can submit information and ask questions by sending an email to: email@example.com.
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Applying for New Hampshire Unemployment Benefits
- New Hampshire Employment Security: File My Initial Claim
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Overpayment Information
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Guidance for School Reopening
- New Hampshire Department of Education: School Reopening Plans
- New Hampshire Employment Security: New Hampshire Job Fair Portal
- New Hampshire Employment Security: New Hampshire Job Search Portal
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Appeals
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Stay at Work, WorkShare
- NHPR: Seeing 'You Do Not Have a Current Claim for Your N.H. Unemployment Insurance? It's OK.
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Unemployment Compensation Quick Tips
- New Hampshire Department of Employment Security: Banking Services for Processing State and Federal Unemployment Compensation Funds
- New Hampshire Employment Security: When Will I Get My Check?
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Will I Get a Lump Sum or Retro Paid for Unemployment?
- New Hampshire Safer at Home: Homepage
- State of New Hampshire, Office of the Governor: Emergency Order #52
- New Hampshire Employment Security: NHWorks Job Match System
- New Hampshire Employment Security: 2020 Tax Information
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Check My Existing Claim Status
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.