Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Family Caregivers

Author(s): Ben-Ishai, Liz; McHugh, Rick; Ujvari, Kathleen

Organizational Author(s): AARP Public Policy Institute

Funding Source: Funding source not identified

Resource Availability: Publicly available

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Summary

Provides recommendations to improve family caregivers access to temporary Unemployment Insurance Benefits as they care for older or disabled family members.

Description

“A rapidly growing number of older people and adults with chronic illness and disabling conditions receive care from unpaid family members. Many of these family caregivers are also employed outside the home. While some are able to alter their work schedules or take time off from their jobs to provide hands-on care, such as help with bathing, eating, and managing medications, others are compelled to leave their jobs, or are fired for reasons related to their family caregiving responsibilities. In these cases, family caregivers may be able to seek assistance from some state unemployment insurance (UI) programs. Yet few resources are available to help family caregivers and advocates understand the intricacies of these programs.

Drawing on legal analysis, in-depth interviews with advocates and UI officials, and analysis of available data, this paper presents detailed information on the policies and practices in place in state UI programs that provide potential temporary financial assistance to family caregivers” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Author)

Full Publication Title: Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Family Caregivers: An Analysis of State Rules and Practices

Major Findings & Recommendations

Highlights of findings from the executive summary:
• “State and federal UI data show that family caregivers are claiming UI, but at very low rates” (p.1)
• “Three categories of UI rules apply to working family caregivers seeking unemployment benefits” (p.1).
• “Claimants are unlikely to meet availability for work conditions while they are engaged in full-time family caregiving” (p.1).
• “All states limit UI benefits to a 1-year period” (p.1).
• “In 2009, under the federal UI Modernization program, 19 states expanded UI eligibility to allow benefits for separations from work due to “compelling family circumstances” (p.1).
• “Almost half of states have UI rules that accommodate workers who leave their jobs voluntarily to act as family caregivers; however, a favorable decision to grant UI benefits is far from automatic” (p.1-2).
• “Awareness of UI rules that accommodate family caregivers is very low” (p.2).
• “Even where UI rules that accommodate family caregivers exist, implementation is sometimes lacking” (p.2).
• “Unreasonable requirements for family caregivers to engage with their employers prior to quitting often result in denial of benefits even when states have caregiving-friendly rules” (p.2).
• “Employers may be less likely to contest family caregiving–related voluntary quits because they are not directly taxed for employees who quit due to compelling family circumstances. In contrast, when a worker is fired for reasons related to family caregiving concerns, the employer’s UI tax rates are increased” (p.2).
• “In most states, when workers are discharged for reasons not within their control, including caregiving responsibilities, they are generally eligible for UI benefits ” (p.2).
• “In most states, eligibility to work on a part-time basis is permitted only if the claimant had a recent history of part-time work” (p.2).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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Publication Date: 2015
Posted: 9/2/2016 1:39 PM
Posted In: Workforce System Strategies
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