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Unemployment Benefits Eligibility
General Benefits Eligibility Criteria
Employed workers are covered under the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services Law. This means that your employer contributes to the Arkansas Unemployment Trust Fund, which entitles you to collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits if you meet certain eligibility requirements upon becoming partially or fully unemployed.
Work Eligibility Criteria
You must meet the following work eligibility criteria to qualify for Arkansas unemployment benefits:
- Unemployed by no fault of your own (fully or partially): Circumstances that caused you to become unemployed cannot be due to misconduct, purposeful violation(s) of workplace rules or regulations, or for personal reasons. Keep in mind that lack of work performance will not exclude you from eligibility to collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits in Arkansas.
- Able to work: You must be physically and mentally capable of performing appropriate work in a similar position to previous jobs, or have enough experience to train for a viable position with reasonable expectations of employment.
- Available to work: You must be ready to begin working immediately. You are responsible to make arrangements for suitable accommodations in order to work; no personal circumstances should hold you from the ability to start working right away.
- Actively seeking work: You must show a reasonable effort toward obtaining fitting and suitable employment. Your actions in seeking work should be aggressive to finding gainful employment as soon as possible.
- Register with the Department of Workforce Services Employment Services: It is a requirement that you register to work before you can be eligible to collect any Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Upon submitting an application to claim benefits, should you be found eligible, you will be assigned a specific number of contacts (the number of contacts varies depending on your employment situation) to make per week for each week you claim benefits. For more information on Employment Services, refer to the Unemployment Compensation and Requirements
Wages Eligibility Criteria
In order to qualify, you must meet a required amount of eligible covered wage earnings over a Base Period. Your Base Period is determined by the amount of money you earned from employers over a 12-month timeframe. Arkansas recognizes two Base Periods, Traditional and Alternate.
o Traditional: Earned wages in the first four of the last five calendar quarters previous to your initial claim filing quarter. Earnings in two of the four quarters must be at least half of the highest earning quarter (combined) of the qualifying Base Period quarters.
o Alternate: Established to accommodate part-time employees, or low-wage workers who cannot otherwise file claims under the Traditional Base Period requirements.
It is also aimed to assist you if you were unemployed long-term, returned to work, and are recently again unemployed. You could be eligible to collect benefits, even if you do not meet the Traditional Base Period quarters required. If you have earnings in the fifth quarter, immediately previous to the quarter you are filing in, the Alternate Base Period will be used to determine benefits.
Note: If you are a former military or federal employee, those wages are not included in your initial Monetary Determination Notice. A Department of Workforce Services employee will request federal and military wages directly from the source. You will have to show proof of these earned wages. For more information, refer to the File for Unemployment in Arkansas section.
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Unemployment Availability Limits
You can collect Unemployment Insurance in Arkansas for one Benefit Year. Your Benefit Year is 12 months, and begins on the first day of the Calendar Quarter in which you filed your initial claim. You cannot claim Unemployment Insurance Benefits longer than your 12-month Benefit Year. If your claim expires, or you run out of benefit funds, you could possibly qualify for an extension, but you cannot file a new claim until your Benefit Year ends.
The Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) you collect on your claim is determined by your wages in the 12 months previous to your initial Unemployment Insurance claim, and cannot be increased by returning to work. Your WBA remains the same for the life of your claim. Benefit amount limits vary depending on your Base Period wages and employer contributions to the Arkansas Unemployment Trust Fund.
The state of Arkansas Extended Benefit program (1971) only grants extensions during extenuating periods of higher than usual unemployment rates. The government will make announcements declaring start times and duration of extension accessible periods as necessary.
Otherwise, continued Unemployment Benefit claim possibilities depend upon meeting certain wage earning requirements, including:
- You must have covered wage earnings in two quarters of your Base Period that must be equal to (not less than) 35 times your WBA.
- If your Benefit Year expires, in order to open a new claim, you must meet previous requirements in addition to having Requalifying Work. To requalify, your covered wages must equal eight times your new WBA from the start date of the initial filing of your old Unemployment Insurance claim.