Jobless benefits ceiling to be raised next week

    Iowans who are newly unemployed could see some extra help in their benefit checks. (Photo by Sam Thomas/iStock/ Getty Images Plus)

    Beginning next month, newly unemployed Iowans and those recently injured on the job will qualify for an increase in their maximum weekly benefits.

    The added benefit payment will apply only to individuals who file new unemployment insurance claims for the week beginning July 5, and to workers injured on or after July 1. Iowans already receiving benefits from state or federal unemployment programs will continue to receive the same weekly benefit amount.

    An increase in the amount of wages that are covered by unemployment insurance is responsible for the increase in maximum weekly benefit. The average annual wage for insured Iowa workers increased to $48,455.86 in 2019, up from $47,290.57 in 2018.

    Iowa Workforce Development officials say that about half of those eligible for unemployment insurance benefits have enough earnings to qualify for the maximum benefit.

    Beginning July 1, the workers’ compensation maximum weekly benefit for temporary total disability, healing period, permanent total disability and death will rise to $1,864. For permanent partial disability, the weekly maximum will be $1,715.

    Under Iowa law, the number of people covered by unemployment insurance and their gross wages are primary elements of a formula Iowa Workforce Development uses each year to compute maximum and minimum benefit amounts paid to jobless workers.

    Once the new maximum benefit kicks in, Iowans with no dependents could see their weekly unemployment benefit increase from $481 to $493. Unemployed individuals with two dependents could see their benefits increase from $518 to $531.

    Clark Kauffman
    Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.