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Department of Labor

Unemployment Insurance

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INTRODUCTION

This information is furnished to help you and other unemployed workers to understand the unemployment compensation programs administrated by the Virgin Islands Unemployment Insurance Service and the Employment Security Agency of which it is a part. This is also intended to inform you of your rights and responsibilities under the Virgin Islands Unemployment Insurance Act and related unemployment compensation laws. It explains the requirements and conditions you must meet in order to qualify for unemployment benefits and also the conditions and circumstances under which you may be disqualified or otherwise denied benefits.

WHAT IS UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE?

Unemployment Insurance is designed to provide benefits to eligible persons who are temporarily unemployed through no fault of their own. In all states employers pay quarterly contributions to cover their workers against involuntary unemployment. Most employers are required to pay contributions. Benefits are funded by these contributions. The amount of benefits payable is intended to cover non-deferrable expenses such as housing, food, clothing, and necessary transportation. No deductions are made from the worker’s wages to finance Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance Benefits is based on wages earned not on family financial resources. Unemployment Insurance is not Welfare, Social Security, Workman’s Compensation, or Disability Assistance.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

In order to be eligible for Unemployment Benefits, you must meet certain eligibility conditions. You must be totally or partially unemployed. You are considered totally unemployed any week in which you did not perform work and no wages were paid to you. YOU MUST REPORT ALL OF YOUR WORK AND EARNINGS, INCLUDING ANY SELF-EMPLOYMENT INCOME. You must report to the local office in person to file a claim for Unemployment Benefits. You are required to register for work at the Job Service office. You must participate in reemployment services offered through the Job Service office when you are selected.

Failure to report/participate in any reemployment services, in which you are required to participate, may result in the denial of benefits, unless you have justifiable cause that you have completed such services or are attending similar services. You must file a claim and meet these basic requirements:

1.) You must be able to perform full-time work which means that you must be physically and mentally able to work each work each day of the week. Benefits cannot be paid for any week during which you are unable to work. While claiming benefits, you must indicate on your claim form whether there were any days which you were not able to work due to illness, injury, or for any other reason.

2.) You must be available for full time work. It means you must be ready and willing to accept suitable work while you are claiming unemployment benefits. In general, work is suitable if it is within your training, capabilities and experience. You must not place undue restrictions on accepting offered work, such as limiting times and places for a job. Transportation and child care problems are not acceptable excuses for not being available for certain jobs that are otherwise suitable.

3.) You are required to actively seek full-time work on your own and keep a list of employers you contact for jobs. You must not limit your search to part-time work. If you are only partially employed, you must make a continuing effort to find full time work. If work is not available in your regular occupation, you are expected to look for work in other areas for which you are qualified. The Job Service will make every effort to assist you in finding suitable work.

4.) You must be unemployed through no fault of your own. If your separation from your last employer was for anything other than lack of work we will have to conduct a fact-finding interview by secure information from you, your employer, and any other relevant parties before we can determine your eligibility. No payment can be made until we have issued a decision. If you are determined to be responsible for being unemployed a disqualification may be imposed.

COVERED EMPLOYMENT


Covered employment is work done for employers who are subject to the Virgin Islands Unemployment Compensation Law. These employers pay into a fund established to pay Unemployment Compensation Benefits. An employer may be covered for some work performed in his employ, but not for other work. Some of the types of work that are not covered include a student in the employ of the school at which he is enrolled and regularly attending classes, by a patient in a hospital, in the employ of a church, as a elected official and by an alien contract worker imported into the Virgin Islands for harvesting purposes.

QUALIFYING WAGES
You must have worked at least two calendar quarters of your Base Period, and have sufficient wages. Under the present Law, you may qualify monetarily if you were paid wages in covered employment of at least $858.00 in the calendar quarter of your period in which your wages were the highest and your total base period wages were at least one and a half times the wages paid in that highest quarter.

Your Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters proceeding the date you filed your claim for unemployment benefits.

BASE PERIOD ILLUSTRATION

 

DETERMINATION BENEFIT ELIGIBILITY REPORT
(Monetary Determination)


Within one week after you filed your initial claim you will receive a Monetary Determination regarding your eligibility. Only wages earned in “covered employment” can be used to establish your benefit amount. The Determination will contain the following information:

1.) The Weekly Benefit Amount.
2.) The Total Potential Benefits.
3.) The Benefit Year beginning date of your claim.
4.) The Benefit Year ending date of your claim.
5.) A list of Base Period employers for whom you worked.
6.) The quarterly wages from each employer
7.) Total Compensable Weeks

Review your Monetary Determination carefully. Check your mailing address and Social Security number. Be sure all employers you worked for during the base period are listed and all wages are listed in every quarter that you worked. If you do not have sufficient wages for a valid claim your Eligibility Report will show “Base Period wages less than minimum”. This means you can not receive benefits at this time and may file a new claim next quarter.

If you should disagree with any information on your Eligibility Report or if wages are missing you should notify the local office and request a redetermination within ten (10) days from the date of delivery. In order for a redetermination to be processed you will be required to provide evidence of earned wages, such as pay stubs or W-2 tax forms.

Your wages from employment in other states may be combined to increase your Weekly Benefit Amount.

If you qualify for benefits, you will be assigned a benefit year, that is the one-year period beginning with the Sunday of the week in which you filed your initial claim for benefits.

NOTE: Being monetarily eligible does not automatically entitle you to receive Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Separate decisions are made to determine your entitlement.

WEEKLY BENEFIT AMOUNT (WBA)


Your Weekly Benefit Amount is based on the amount that you were paid by all employers for whom you worked during your base period.

The weekly benefit amount payable for a qualified unemployed individual will be one twenty-sixth (1/26) of your wages earned in the quarter of base period that was the highest. For example, if an individual earned $3,000.00 during his base period and the highest amount he earned in a single calendar quarter (his high quarter) was $1,300.00 his weekly benefit amount would be $50.00 average weekly wage in the Virgin Islands. If the individual remains unemployed and is not disqualified, he can possible receive a total amount of benefits equal to 26 times his weekly benefit amount or one-third (1/3) of his total base period wages, whichever is less. In the example given, 26 times (26 x $50 = $1,300) and one-third of $3,000 would be $1,000 (3,000 ÷ 3 = 1,000). The maximum potential benefits would be 1,000. If the individual were paid $50.00 a week in benefits, he would exhaust his entitlement in 20 weeks.

Your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) cannot exceed the Virgin Islands maximum weekly benefit amount or be less the Virgin Islands minimum WBA. The maximum and minimum change yearly, and are based upon the previous year’s average annual weekly wage for the Virgin Islands.The 2006 Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount is $454.00. The Minimum Weekly Benefit Amount is $33.00.

MAXIMUM BENEFIT AMOUNT (MBA)


The MBA is the total amount of Unemployment Benefits you can potentially draw in a benefit year. It is determine by the Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) and the number of weeks to be paid. The WBA times the number of weeks equals the MBA.

BENEFIT YEAR


Once you qualify for benefits you establish a benefit year (52 week) beginning with the Sunday of the first week in which you filed your claim. This does not mean you can collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits for one year if you remain unemployed. This is the time frame you can collect the total potential benefits. Your Unemployment Insurance Benefits may exhaust before the 52 week (Benefit Year) expires.

REQUALIFYING FOR A SUBSEQUENT BENEFIT YEAR


After your benefit year has expired, you may be eligible to establish a new benefit year, if you have been employed and have earned subsequent to the beginning of the first benefit year an amount equal to not less than 3/13 of your high quarter wages or six times your weekly benefit amount, whichever is less. The monetary requirements must also be met regarding qualifying wages.

BENEFIT RIGHTS INTERVIEW (BRI)


Each person who files a claim for Unemployment Benefits regardless of the type of claim will receive a verbal orientation. During this interview information about your benefit rights and responsibilities will be explained, as well as, information about the Monetary Determination (Benefit Eligibility Report) the Non-Monetary Determination your appeal rights and the eligibility requirements you must meet to establish a valid claim.

You will sign and date a BRI statement which will be placed in your folder. This statement will acknowledge that you have been informed and understand your benefit rights and responsibilities as explained to you.

WAITING PERIOD


The first week for which you are eligible and meet the requirements for benefits is referred to as your waiting week. No benefits are paid for this week. If you have earnings during the first week of your claim that exceed your weekly benefit amount, this unpaid time extends into the next week. To obtain waiting week credit, you must be eligible for benefits. If the waiting week is included in a disqualification period the first eligible week claimed at the end of the disqualification period must be used to meet the waiting period requirements. You serve one waiting week for each Benefit Year.

ELIGIBILITY REVIEW INTERVIEW (ERI)


You will be schedule for an Eligibility Review Interview when you claim your first payable week. You will be given the date and time for your first Eligibility Review Interview and a Work Search Log to record your job contacts. It is your responsibility to keep a daily record of the employers you contact in search of work. You should record your job contacts as they happen. To remain eligible for Unemployment Benefits, you must make an active search for work during each week. If you are receiving partial benefits, you must continue to look for permanent full-time work in order to continue receiving benefits. While there is no specific number of contacts you must make each week, you are expected to do what a reasonably prudent person would do in order to return to work. At the interview you will be required to provide the Agency with a record of your work search efforts. Your eligibility to continue receiving unemployment benefits will be reviewed. You will be referred to Job Service to assist with Job Search techniques and other employability services.

Failure to seek work and/or provide an accurate record of your work search efforts, and/or failure to report when schedule may result in you being disqualified from receiving benefits.

WORKERS PROFILING AND REEMPLOYMENT SERVICE PROGRAM


The Virgin Islands Worker Profiling and Reemployment Services program identifies and select dislocated workers who are most likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits and refer them early in their claim series to reemployment services. The Job Service staff will work with you to establish a reemployment plan that meets your individual needs.

If you are selected you will be issued a Notice of Selection for Reemployment Services, which will include the date and time of the schedule orientation. Failure to report or participate without good cause may result in denial or delay of your Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

CHILD SUPPORT DEDUCTION


The Unemployment Insurance Office is required to withhold money from your Unemployment Insurance Benefits if an order from the child support enforcement agency is received. The amount to be deducted will be determined by a court order or the child enforcement agency. If you disagree with the amount deducted from your benefits you should contact the child support agency. Only the Child Support Agency can change or stop the deduction from your benefits.

BENEFITS ARE TAXABLE


Unemployment Benefits are taxable income and must be reported on your Federal Income Tax Return. You have the option of having 10% of your gross weekly benefit amount deducted for Federal Income Tax purposes. You may change your decision at any time during your claims by completing a form to Terminate Taxes withheld from your Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

We will send you a Form 1099-G showing the total amount of benefits paid and federal taxes deducted from your Unemployment Benefits during the previous calendar year (January 1 to December 31). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will also receive this information. If you have any questions regarding taxation of benefits, you must contact the Internal Revenue Services.

PARTIAL BENEFITS

If you work less than 40 hours a week you might be eligible for partial benefits. However, you must still be able, available, and actively seeking full-time work, you cannot restrict yourself to part-time work and be eligible for benefits.

You are ineligible for benefits any week that you work full-time, even if you have low earnings.

Any deductions from your weekly benefit because of earnings remains in your benefit account, and may extend the number of weeks you can be paid during your benefit year.

You will be required to submit your check stubs from your part-time employment for each week you claim.

You will be given a part-time form to take to your employer for completion.

CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS OR MOVING


If you move or change your mailing address while you are unemployed you should notify the local office immediately. Even if you stopped claiming benefits you should inform the agency of your new address so that you will receive the 1099-G statement for Income tax purposes.

If you are leaving the Virgin Islands area and you are unable to report to your local office before leaving, report to the nearest local office in your area. Always take any forms concerning your claim when you report to a different office, so that your benefits will not be delayed.

BACK PAY AWARD

Back pay received from a former employer must be reported to the office. Back Pay is usually awarded because the employer separated or discharged the individual wrongfully. The amount paid is intended to correct that wrong and is treated as wages even if the individual performed no work during the period covered. As a result, the individual is not unemployed with respect to the week or weeks covered by the award. Any benefits previously paid become, therefore overpaid. Any benefits received for that period must be repaid. Employers in the Virgin Islands are required to report back pay awards to the Unemployment Office and deduct any Unemployment Compensation that was paid for the same period. The employer sends the deducted amount to the Unemployment Office to cancel the overpayment.

 



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