Amount of weekly benefits
The weekly benefit amount is 55% of the “average weekly earnings” from the calendar year before you submit an application for EI special benefits. In 2015, the maximum rate is $524 per week. The amount of your benefits may decrease if you continue to work or if your business generates earnings while you are collecting EI special benefits.
Before weekly benefits can be determined, your eligible earnings will need to be identified.
If you have earnings from both self-employment and insurable earnings as an employee, you may choose to apply for EI special benefits as a self-employed person or as an employee.
If you are applying as a self-employed person, we will take into account your earnings from both self-employment and employment as an employee when we calculate your weekly benefit amount, as long as your earnings from both sources are eligible. You must provide your Record of Employment to show details of your earnings as an employee.
If you are applying as an employee, we will use only the earnings from your employment as an employee (including fishing earnings) to calculate your weekly benefit amount. We will not use any of your self-employed earnings. You must provide your Record of Employment (available from your employer) to show details of your earnings as an employee.
Income tax return information
If you have already filed your income tax return for the year before the year you submit an EI claim, we will obtain the amount of your self-employed earnings from the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you have not filed your income tax return for the year before the year you submit an EI claim, you will be asked to provide an estimate of your income from self-employment. Your benefit amount will be calculated based on the estimate you provide, and any necessary adjustments will be made after you file your income tax return. If your estimate is higher than your actual income, you may have to repay EI benefits.
See the examples for more details on how the weekly benefit is calculated.
While claiming EI special benefits, you must complete reports to demonstrate your continuing entitlement.
Shortly after you file your application for benefits, we will mail you an EI benefit statement. The statement includes your Access Code (4 digit number), which is printed in the shaded area at the top of the benefit statement. Your Access Code is needed to submit your required bi-weekly reports and to get information about your claim. Access the instructions on when and how to complete your reports with our Internet Reporting Service or our Telephone Reporting Service.
Working while you receive benefits
If you are claiming sickness or maternity benefits, we will deduct any part-time earnings from your benefits on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
Under the EI Act, if you are claiming parental, compassionate care or parents of critically ill children benefits, you can earn either of the following two amounts without changing the amount of EI benefits you receive:
- 25% of your weekly benefit (if your weekly benefit amount is $200 or more); or
- $50 gross (if your weekly benefit amount is less than $200).
We will deduct any money you earn above that amount from your benefits on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
However, until August 6, 2016, a Working While on Claim pilot project is in place which changes the way earnings you receive while on claim affect your weekly EI benefits.
Under this Working While on Claim (WWC) pilot project, once you have served your waiting period, your benefits will be reduced by a rate of 50% of your earnings each week if the earnings are equal to or less than 90% of your weekly earnings that were used to calculate your benefit rate. Any earnings that exceed the 90% threshold will be deducted dollar for dollar from your benefits.
Remember that you must always declare all your earnings in your bi-weekly reports.
Business generating self-employment earnings for you while receiving benefits
Any EI benefit amounts paid or payable to you may be affected if your business generates earnings, including earnings you receive from profits or commissions, while you are in receipt of benefits.
If you have self-employment earnings from services performed, they are allocated to the week or weeks when the services were performed.
If you have self-employment earnings from a transaction, including farming earnings, they are allocated as follows:
- If the earnings are greater than the maximum yearly insurable earnings divided by 52 ($952 in 2015), they are allocated to the week or weeks when the work was performed that gave rise to the transaction (you must let Service Canada know when the work was performed that gave rise to the transaction).
- If the earnings are less than or equal to the maximum yearly insurable earnings divided by 52 ($952 in 2015), they are allocated to:
- the week the transaction occurred; or
- the weeks when the work was performed that gave rise to the transaction, if you inform Service Canada that the work was performed in more than one week.
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