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By Emily Greenhalgh
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PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Labor and Training has announced the 2012 maximum weekly benefit rate for unemployment insurance and temporary disability insurance claimants who will start their benefit year on or after July 1.
The maximum benefit rate for unemployment insurance in the Ocean State will remain at $566 a week for claimants without dependants who will begin their benefit year on or after July 1, the DLT announced Wednesday. A benefit year is the 52-week period that starts upon filing a new claim.
Because of unemployment insurance reforms taking effect July 1, the maximum benefit rate will remain at $566 per week until that figure reaches 57.5 percent of the state average weekly range.
In prior years, the maximum weekly benefit range was 67 percent of the state average weekly range, the new benefit rate is equal to 65.5 percent of the state’s average wage of $864.81.
According to a release, the DLT expects the unemployment insurance rate to remain at $566 until fiscal year 2017 or 2018.
Moreover, the maximum weekly benefit rate for unemployment insurance claimants with five or more dependents will remain at $707 this year.
“This is the first time in more than 40 years of the Unemployment Insurance program that a new maximum benefit rate has not exceeded the previous year’s maximum,” said DLT Director Charles J. Fogarty in prepared remarks.
The DLT anticipates that this change will save the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund $2.2 million in the first year and $24.9 when fully implemented.
Other changes legislated to begin July 1 include allocating severance over time prior to paying out unemployment benefits, calculating weekly benefit rates using the average of a claimant’s two higher quarters of work rather than using the highest quarter and extending the number of weeks a claimant must have worked to receive the maximum weeks of benefits.
Existing benefit claims will not be affected by the changes in benefit rate calculation.
The 2012 maximum benefit rate for temporary disability insurance is $736 for claimants without dependents who begin their benefit year on or after July 1, an increase of $17 a week over last year’s rate.
The maximum weekly benefit rate for TDI claimants with five or more dependents is $993, an increase of $23.
New legislation eliminates the one-week waiting period before TDI claimants can receive benefits for all new claims filed on or after July 1, 2012.