Amount and Duration of Benefits

Base Period and Alternate Base Period.
What is my base period and How much will I get each week?
What is my alternate base period and How much will I get each week?
Estimating the Weekly Benefit Amount.
When should I open my claim?
$700 Rule for Successive Benefit Years.

In New Hampshire, the maximum Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) is $427 per week for total unemployment. The minimum WBA is $32. The Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA) an individual may collect is 26 times their WBA. If filing for total benefits, this would be equal to 26 weeks. These weeks do not need to be consecutive, but do need to be in a single Benefit Year. Benefit Year means the one-year period beginning with the first day of the week in which an individual files a claim for benefits.

Detailed explanations of base period, primary base period, alternate base period, weekly benefit amount, effective date of a claim, and subsequent benefit year requirements ($700 rule) follow. There are also calculators available that allow you to enter information and be presented with data specific to your circumstance.

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Base Period and Alternate Base Period

The actual amount you will receive if you meet all eligibility requirements depends on your earnings in what is called the Base Period. Your Base Period is established based on the Effective Date of your claim, which is the Sunday date of the week in which you file an application for benefits.

In order to estimate the amount of your WBA, you need to know which calendar quarters will make up your Base Period. If you have worked in covered employment and earned a total of at least $2800 in the four quarters that comprise your Base Period and any 2 of the 4 quarters have earnings of $1400 or more, you have sufficient earnings to establish a WBA. If you live in New Hampshire, wages earned in the Base Period in any other state, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands or Canada can also be used. Compensation for lost wages due to an on-the-job injury during the base period may also be used to establish or increase a weekly benefit amount.

The Primary Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the Effective Date of your claim.

The blue shaded area in the following chart is the Primary Base Period if you file during the corresponding red months.

primary base period image

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: You must file in or after the first full Sunday through Saturday calendar week of a quarter in order to use the indicated Base Period. If you file in the first partial week of a quarter, your Base Period will be the Base Period for the prior calendar quarter.

New Hampshire does have an Alternate Base Period, which is only considered if no WBA can be established in the Primary Base Period. The Alternate Base Period is the last four completed calendar quarters. For example, if you applied for benefits on August 15, 2012, your Primary Base Period would include wages earned in covered employment from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012. If there were insufficient wages to establish a WBA in that period, then the Alternate Base Period of July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 would be used. If a WBA can be established in the Primary Base Period, the Alternate is not considered. You can not choose between Primary and Alternate Base Periods.


The blue shaded area in the following chart is the Alternate Base Period if you file during the corresponding red months.


Alternate Base Period image
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Estimating the Weekly Benefit Amount

To calculate how much you may be eligible to receive, identify the Primary Base Period that matches the quarter you have filed or expect to file your application for benefits. Using your W2's, checkstub(s), hourly rate or salary, or any other information you may have regarding your earnings for the Base Period, determine your total gross earnings for that period. Compare that total to the following chart or use the following calculator links.

NOTE: Weekly Benefit Amounts may change at any time per act of Legislature.

What is my Base Period and how much will I get each week?



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NH EMPLOYMENT SECURITY
BENEFIT AMOUNT SCHEDULE
RSA 282-A:25

Annual Earnings WBA MBA
2800 32 832
3100 35 910
3400 39 1014
3900 45 1170
4200 48 1248
4500 52 1352
4800 55 1430
5100 59 1534
5600 64 1664
6100 69 1794
6600 75 1950
7000 80 2080
7400 83 2158
7800 88 2288
8200 92 2392
8600 96 2496
9000 101 2626
9500 105 2730
10000 110 2860
10500 115 2990
11000 120 3120
11500 126 3276
12500 137 3562
13500 148 3848
14500 159 4134
15500 167 4342
16500 178 4628
17500 188 4888
18500 199 5174
19500 206 5356
20500 217 5642
21500 227 5902
22500 238 6188
23500 249 6474
24500 254 6604
25500 265 6890
26500 275 7150
27500 286 7436
28500 290 7540
29500 301 7826
30500 311 8086
31500 321 8346
32500 331 8606
33500 342 8892
34500 352 9152
35500 362 9412
36500 372 9672
37500 383 9958
38500 394 10244
39500 405 10530
40500 416 10816
41500 427 11102

For example, if you earned a total of $31,728.15 for the Base Period, your WBA would be $331 per week and MBA available for the Benefit Year would be $8606.


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When should I open my claim?

When you open a claim is your choice. Opening a claim will establish the Effective Date, Base Period, Weekly Benefit Amount and Benefit Year. Once a WBA has been established, a week of benefits has been filed for, and the Monetary Determination mailed detailing that information, the claim is usually final. It can not be withdrawn at a later date because you have discovered that if you had waited until a different quarter to open your claim, you would have established a better WBA or Benefit Year. There are very few circumstances under which a claim withdrawal is allowed once final.

While you do not have the option to choose whether the Primary or Alternate Base Period is used to establish your WBA, you do have the right and ability to choose when to open your claim. By using the Primary Base Period table and the Benefit Amount Schedule, you can look at how your WBA may change depending on what quarter you open your claim. If you are receiving a separation package from your employer that includes many weeks or months of severance, vacation, etc., you may want to look at any difference between opening your claim immediately upon becoming unemployed or waiting until your separation is near or actually exhausted, especially if it would mean opening a claim in a different quarter. You may want to consider waiting to open your claim so that the timing will allow you to collect a full 26 weeks of benefits in the Benefit Year you establish. Separation pay is disqualifying in New Hampshire. You cannot be paid unemployment benefits for a week in which you received or expect to receive a week of separation pay.

For example, if you were laid off on January 13, 2012, earned a consistent $11,000 per quarter, and were given 36 weeks of separation pay, the following are a few of the potential scenarios regarding your claim.

Scenario Effective Date of Claim Base Period Earnings WBA
#1 January 15, 2012 Oct 2010 - Sept 2011 $44,000 $427
Benefit Year Ending January 12, 2013
#2 September 23, 2012 Apr 2011 - March 2012 $44,000 $427
Benefit Year Ending September 21, 2013
(after 36 weeks of separation pay has ended)

In both of these scenarios, your separation pay of 36 weeks would be applied to the weeks ending January 21, 2012 through September 22, 2012, and count as earnings during that period. You would not be eligible to collect unemployment during those weeks. The following are the results of each scenario based on that fact.

Scenario First Eligible Week Benefit Year Ending Number of Payable Weeks
#1 Week ending Sept 29, 2012 Jan 12, 2013 16 weeks
#2 Week ending Sept 29, 2012 Sept 21, 2013 26 weeks

In Scenario #1, you would not be able to collect the maximum amount of benefits for the Benefit Year, because the Benefit Year established when the claim was opened in January 2012, expires with payment for the 17th week of full benefits (week ending January 12, 2013).

If you had returned to work, this would be a moot point, however, if you had not found new employment, those extra 10 weeks of benefits might be helpful to you and your family.

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$700 Rule for Successive Benefit Years

Federal Law mandates that each State establish a minimum earnings requirement in new covered employment between successive benefit years. New Hampshire's requirement is $700. If you have opened a claim for benefits and, once that Benefit Year has expired, wish to open a new claim for a new Benefit Year, you must have earned at least $700 in covered employment since the effective date of the earlier Benefit Year. The $700 is the total amount needed. It does not have to be earned in one week and may have been earned at any time after the effective date of the earlier claim, for any covered employer or combination of employer(s) in New Hampshire or any other state, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands or Canada. It can not be in self-employment.

You may also want to take this rule into consideration when deciding when to open your claim. No one can predict the future. You may find new employment in 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years. You may take a new job only to be laid off again in 7 weeks. You may take a part time job while continuing to look for a full time job and wish to collect partial benefits.

If you earn the $700 since the effective date of your claim, all earnings in a new Base Period (including earnings from your previous full time employer) can be used. To illustrate how this might affect a claim, see the following scenarios.

Scenario Effective Date of Claim Base Period Earnings WBA
#1 January 15, 2012 Oct 2010 - Sept 2011 $44,000 $427
Benefit Year Ending January 12, 2013
#2 September 23, 2012 Apr 2011 - March 2012 $44,000 $427
Benefit Year Ending September 21, 2013

Quarterly Earnings for these scenarios. The earnings include the separation pay.

First Quarter
Jan thru Mar
Second Quarter
April thru June
Third Quarter
July thru Sept
Fourth Quarter
Oct thru Dec
2010
First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
$11,000 $11,000 $11,000 $11,000
2011
First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
$11,000 $11,000 $11,000 $11,000
2012
First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
$11,000 $11,000 $10,154 0
2013
First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
0 0 0 0

In Scenario #1, a new Benefit Year claim could be opened effective January 13, 2013 (the day after the Benefit Year Ending). The Base Period would be October 2011 through September 2012, or $43,154. The Weekly Benefit Amount for these earnings is $427, however, unless at least $700 has been earned in covered employment since January 15, 2012, the WBA could not be used. No benefits would be available for the new Benefit Year. If you had taken a new job for 7 weeks between July and August 2012, for example and then were laid off again, you would have earned the required $700 and have a new Benefit Year available and be potentially eligible for another 26 weeks of benefits at $427 per week.

In Scenario #2, a new Benefit Year claim could be opened effective September 22, 2013. The Base Period would be April 2012 through March 2013, or $21,154. The Weekly Benefit Amount for these earnings would be $217. The same situation applies as Scenario # 1 regarding the $700 Rule.


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