Kansas unemployment frequently asked questions (FAQs)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) Update Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Kansas Department of Labor says unemployed workers who have not received that additional $600 payment or the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), should soon receive money as it worked to send out those payments Tuesday night.

KDOL says its team is working to fix the issue.

The labor department put together a list of services available to help those suffering hardships through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The list looks at options like medical care through KanCare, cash assistance through the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program, as well as unemployment and food assistance.

These are all state-level resources, your county and/or city may have additional resources available. Contact your local government for details.

You can always call the United Way at 211 for help, as well.

For those expecting retroactive payments, the labor department says it will issue those in the next two weeks. These payments are retroactive from March 29, even if you return to work before the payments roll out.

Retroactive payments, however, are not the only program Kansans are waiting on. If you qualify, but have already exhausted your benefits with the state, the program offering a 13-week extension will start in the next two to four weeks.

It could take even longer for self-employed workers to see benefits. Last week, KDOL Secretary Delia Garcia told lawmakers it could take anywhere from three to six weeks before benefits are available to farmers and hair stylists.

What you can do now while you wait for your benefit is go ahead and apply for unemployment through KDOL so the state has your information on file. Second, keep a screenshot or a copy of your denial, and if you are self-employed, prepare your 2019 or 2018 tax return while you wait if you haven't done so.

Ultimately, the timeline depends on the state's technology to get this done.

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The coronavirus has left thousands of Kansans jobless after a statewide stay-at-home order and social distancing work to slow the spread of illness.

Now, those who are out of work have turned to the state for unemployment. It's been a bumpy ride for those applying and for the Kansas Department of Labor.

Several of you have reached out to us with your questions. Below, we've compiled a running list of answers.

How do I file?

If you are filing an application for unemployment insurance or a weekly claim via phone or getkansasbenefits.gov, the day you should file is based on the first letter of your last name (see graphic below).

Kansans with a last name that begins with an A-M can file on Sunday after noon, Tuesday or Thursday. If your last name begins with an N-Z, you can file on Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Saturdays are reserved for those who haven't been able to file.

I think the amount of my Economic Impact Payment is incorrect. What can I do?

If you did not receive the full amount to which you believe you are entitled, you will be able to claim the additional amount when you file your 2020 tax return.

This is particularly important for individuals who may be entitled to the additional $500 per qualifying child dependent payments.

For VA and SSI recipients who don’t have a filing requirement and have a child, they need to use the Non-Filer tool (link) on IRS.gov by May 5 in order to have the $500 added automatically to their $1,200 Economic Impact payment.

We encourage people to review our “How do I calculate my EIP Payment”

What should I expect in unemployment benefits from the state?

Unemployment benefits range from $122-$488 per week depending on your salary. In Kansas, the average weekly benefit is $398.

When will the $600 in unemployment benefits start from the CARES Act?

The coronavirus stimulus package proposes $600 in unemployment benefits. The Kansas Department of Labor deployed the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) on Thursday, April 23.

receive regular benefits (state unemployment), the shared work program, trade readjustment assistance, disaster unemployment assistance, pandemic unemployment assistance or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.

These payments are retroactive, dating back to March 29. The additional benefits from the CARES Act will expire July 31.

Am I eligible for an extension through the Kansas Department of Labor?

According to the Kansas Department of Labor, if you file your claim on or after January 1, you are eligible for 26 weeks of unemployment benefits (a 10-week extension).

Am I eligible for an extension if I have exhausted my unemployment benefits?

According to the Kansas Department of Labor, the state’s 10-week extension does not include people who filed before January 1, 2020. However, individuals who have exhausted their benefits are eligible for a 13-week extension through the CARES Act.

This is not operational yet—but the state is working to start this program soon.

The department is recommending you continue to file your weekly claim if you have already exhausted your benefits, even if you are not receiving payments.

Why am I unable to check the status of my claim?

To capacitate some of the new features, filers will no longer be able to check the status of their claim. KDOL says the feature was bogging down the system that increased from 2,000 claims before the COVID-19 pandemic to now 50,000 claims. KDOL says IT is working to allow the function again asap.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I am self-employed?

You are not eligible for unemployment benefits through the state if you are self-employed. However, you are eligible for $600 in unemployment benefits through the CARES Act. The Kansas Department of Labor is working to start this program.

These payments are retroactive, dating back to March 29. The additional benefits from the CARES Act will expire on July 31.

The Department is recommending self-employed individuals file an unemployment claim with Kansas. Although you will be denied, one requirement to receive benefits through the federal stimulus package is that you have already filed for unemployment with the state.

How do I know if I am eligible for unemployment?

According to the Kansas Department of Labor website, if you are not working and not being paid, you are unemployed for purposes of the UI program. You may also be considered unemployed if you work less than full time and your gross weekly wages are less than your determined weekly benefit amount. So, if your hours and wages have been reduced, you may also be considered unemployed.

The KDOL says you could also be eligible for benefits if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if someone you live with is diagnosed with COVID-19. You could also be eligible for benefits if you are considered "high risk".

Am I eligible for unemployment if I quit working to watch my kids at home?

According to the Kansas Department of Labor, you could be eligible for benefits if you cannot work because schools are closed.

According to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act), employees of covered employers are eligbile for "Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19."

The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.

Are unemployment benefits taxable income?

According to the Kansas Department of Labor, unemployment benefits are taxable income for which the individual would receive a 1099 next year. Individuals can elect to have taxes withheld.

This applies to state unemployment benefits and the additional $600 in unemployment benefits through the CARES Act.

***HERE ARE MORE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ACCORDING TO THE KDOL WEBSITE***

What if I am receiving sick leave, vacation leave, or some other paid benefit while I am off of work?
According to the Kansas Department of Labor website, if you are receiving paid leave, it will be considered wages. If those wages for the week are more than your weekly benefit amount, you will not be eligible for benefits for that week.

What does it mean to be available for work?
According to the Kansas Department of Labor website, an individual must also be available for work in order to receive UI benefits. You will be considered available for work, if your unemployment is related to COVID-19, so long as you are taking all necessary steps to return to work for your regular employer and/or have not withdrawn from the labor market.

Do I have to look for work?
According to the Kansas Department of Labor website, if you are unemployed due to COVID-19 and have taken all necessary steps to return to work for your regular employer, you do not have to look for other work.

Do I have to serve a waiting week?
According to the Kansas Department of Labor website, the waiting week requirement for those unemployed due to COVID-19 is waived.

Here you can find A Guide to Setting Up Your Initial Claim