What is a benefit year?
When a claimant opens a new initial claim, that claim last for 12-months. During that year-long period, the claimant can file weekly certifications (known as weekly or continued claims), for benefits during weeks in which they are unemployed or partially unemployed. When the 12-month benefit year ends, the claimant must reapply for benefits by submitting a new initial claim application. This allows the Department to reevaluate the claimant’s eligibility and set a new benefit amount based on earnings during the prior year.
- Do not try to open a new benefit year before or on the day your benefit year expires.
- Do not try to open a new benefit year before filing the last weekly claim of your old benefit year.
- Example: If your benefit year ends on March 20, 2021, file your weekly claim for the benefit week ending March 20, 2021 on Sunday (3/21/21) and then open your new benefit year on Tuesday (3/23/21). (Claims from Sunday and Monday, process on Monday nights, which is why the earliest a claimant can opent a new benefit year is Tuesday)
You do not need to wait for your monetary determination to arrive in the mail to file your next weekly claim under your new benefit year. Your weekly claim will become available in the portal each Sunday for the prior week of unemployment.
If you do not open your benefit year until the end of the week, you will not be able to file your next weekly claim until your new benefit year has been processed which may take 3 to 5 business days.
Opening your new benefit year as soon as possible after submitting your final weekly claim will help to avoid benefit payment delays.
You can file your weekly claim at any point between 12:01 a.m. on Sunday and 4:30 p.m. on Friday, but the sooner you file and can open a new benefit year, the less likely for delays.
If you wait and submit your weekly claim on Friday, you will have to wait until Tuesday to open your new benefit year (This is to allow the final claim to process in the system). You will not be able to file the first weekly claim on your new benefit year until
How to Open a New Benefit Year
STEP 1: Identify when your benefit year ends. This can be found by logging into your online claimant portal. Benefit years always end on Saturday (the end of the benefit week). DO NOT open a new benefit year on the same day the benefit year expires.
STEP 2: After the benefit year expires (Ex: Saturday, March 20, 2021), file the final weekly claim under the old benefit year, once the benefit week has ended, as you normal would (Ex: Sunday, March 21, 2021). Because each weekly claim represents time worked and wages earned for the prior week, claimants will be able to file the final weekly claim before opening a new benefit year. It is important to file the final weekly claim before opening a new benefit year to avoid processing errors. DO NOT open a new benefit year on the same day you submit your final weekly claim.
- Example: If a claimant's benefit year ends on April 3, 2021, they will need to file their weekly claim for the week ending April 3, 2021 before opening a new benefit year, which will begin the following week. In this scenario, if the benefit week ends on April 3rd, and the claimant's benefit year also ends on April 3rd, the claimant should file their weekly claims for this week on Sunday, April 4th or Monday, April 5th. The weekly claim will process Monday night, and the claimant can open their new benefit year on Tuesday, April 5th.
STEP 3: Log back into the online claimant portal after the final weekly claim has processed and click “open a new benefit year.” This will take you to the initial unemployment insurance application to complete.
- Reminder: If the weekly claim is submitted on Sunday, the weekly claim will process Monday night. Claimants who submit their final weekly claim on Sunday can open their new benefit year beginning Tuesday. If you submit your final weekly claim any day Monday through Thursday, you can log back in the next day to open a new benefit year. If you wait until Friday to submit your weekly claim, you will not be able to log back in until the following Tuesday which means you cannot file your weekly claim until Wednesday. Submitting your weekly claim as soon as possible will reduce errors and delays when opening a new benefit year.
- Claimants are encouraged to submit their weekly claim earlier in the week to avoid processing delays. If a claimant waits until Friday to submit their initial claim, they will need to wait until the following Tuesday to open a new benefit year and will not be able to file their weekly claim until Wednesday and will see a delay in payment.
Initial claim application page that will open when the "new benefit year" link in the claimant portal is clicked
STEP 4 : A new unemployment insurance weekly benefit amount will be calculated by the Department and mailed to the address provided in the new initial application. This will indicate the new benefit amount for the next 12 months. Even if your benefit amount on the monetary determination is $0.00, you will still receive benefits. This indicates that the claimant does not qualify for regular UI but can continue receiving Pandemic UI, known as PEUC, at same benefit amount calculated during 2020. Your monetary determination will not include the additional $300 FPUC benefit, which will be added to your weekly benefit payment.
- Reminder: The monetary determination is for informational purposes only. Claimants do not need to wait to receive the notice before filing their next weekly claim.
STEP 5: Once the new benefit year has been established claimants can file their weekly claims through online claimant portal or by calling the automated claims filing line at 800-983-2300.
Need further assistance? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions for Opening a New Benefit Year, Chat live with a Claimant Assistance Representative, or contact the Claimant Assistance Center directly.