What It Means to You

By Brian E. Hawes, Esq.

The following is for general purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should contact an attorney for formal legal advice for your individual situation.

What is a 52-Week Benefit Year?

A 52-week benefit year is the period of time you may be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits from the EDD.

How long does it last?

Just as the name implies, it lasts a full 52 consecutive weeks.

Isn’t that one whole year?

No. A year is 365 days long. 52 weeks is only 364 days (52 x 7 = 364). So your 52-week benefit year is one day short of a full year.

When does it start?

It starts during the week when you open your claim for unemployment insurance benefits. Actually, it starts on the Sunday of that week. All EDD weeks start on a Sunday and end on the following Saturday.

Give me an example of when my 52-week benefit year might start and end.

You open your claim for benefits on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Your 52-week benefit year starts two days earlier, on the Sunday of that week, which is April 6, 2014. Your 52-week benefit year ends exactly 52 weeks later, on Saturday April 4, 2015.

Will I receive unemployment insurance benefits for the entire 52 weeks of my 52-week benefit year.

No. There is a cap on the amount of unemployment insurance benefits a person can receive in any given 52-week benefit year. It is the lower of:

A) 26 times the claimant’s weekly benefit amount; or

B) One-half the total amount of wages paid to the claimant during his or her base period. UI Code Section 1281(b).

That sounds complicated. What does that mean for me?

Simply put, you will probably get no more than 26 weeks of benefits during your 52-week benefit year.

I thought I got benefits for as long as I was unemployed.

That is a common misconception. The fact is, under current law you are entitled to only 26 weeks of benefits during your 52-week benefit year.

But I’ve heard about people who got a whole year or more of benefits.

Yes, some people did receive “extended” unemployment benefits during the recent economic downturn. From approximately June 2008 through December 2013 Congress passed emergency legislation to permit the payment of additional benefits. That legislation has now expired. The most you can get today is 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. In some states you get even fewer than 26 weeks. For instance, Missouri passed a law that limits benefits to 20 weeks, and North Carolina allows only 13 weeks of benefits. If you are interested, here is a website where the number of weeks of benefits are compared state by state.

26 weeks is only half (about six months) of a 52-week benefit year. What if I use up all 26 weeks of my benefits before the end of my benefit year? Can I still get benefits?

No. You will have to wait until the end of your current 52-week benefit year before you can receive any more benefits. That means there may be a period of time during your 52-week benefit year when you are receiving no benefits. After your current 52-week benefit year expires, you may be eligible to open a new claim for benefits and start a new 52-week benefit year. However, benefits paid during your second 52-week benefit year will probably be a lot lower.

How do I know when my 52-week benefit year started?

Look at the correspondence or other documentation you received from the EDD. The letters “byb” stand for “benefit year began.” There will often be a date next to the “byb”. That date will be the date your benefit year began. Check it on a calendar. It should be a Sunday.

Here are some sample letters from the EDD showing the beginning of the 52-week benefit year:

Notice of Determination/Ruling

Notice of Denial of Benefits and Overpayment

Notice of Overpayment

How can I find out when my 52-week benefit year will end?

Look for the Sunday your benefit year began and starting with that week count out 52 consecutive weeks. Your 52-week benefit year will end on the Saturday of the 52nd week.


Copyright © 2016 Brian E. Hawes, Esq. All Rights Reserved

rev. 3/25/2016