Iowa Unemployment

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File for Unemployment Benefits

You can file for unemployment insurance online at the Iowa Workforce Development(IWD) website, at your local Iowa Works Center, at a Virtual Access Point, or through your last employer. The state of Iowa allows participating employers to file unemployment insurance claims on behalf of the employee. When you use a Virtual Access Point location, you can get help with your claim using the live chat function that allows you to speak directly with an Iowa Workforce Development representative. Virtual Access Points are available throughout the state.

As of October 1, 2016, you can no longer file for unemployment by phone.

Unemployment Application and Initial Claim

File Your Unemployment Application and Initial Claim Process 

To file for unemployment online: 

  • You cannot have an existing unemployment claim in any other state with money (benefits) still available
  • You cannot have a Railroad Unemployment claim with any remaining funds available
  • If you were a member of the U.S. military during the last 18 months, you must be a resident of Iowa
  • If you earned wages in more than one state during your base period and you want to claim those wages, you must be an Iowa resident.

If you do not meet these requirements to file online, you should contact your local Workforce Development Center for assistance with filing for unemployment insurance.

You can file for unemployment benefits online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Complete the following steps to successfully apply online:

  1. Create an account at Or Login to your existing account at
  2. Enter your information accurately and completely
  3. Continue filling out the online form until you receive a confirmation message

How to file for unemployment at a Virtual Access Point:

Access Point virtual program accessibility is Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  1. Find a Virtual Access Point host in your community
  2. Verify the host’s hours of operation
  3. Bring your documents and information to the Access Point
  4. Ask to use the Virtual Access Point
  5. Read the Virtual Desktop Guide provided and follow the instructions using the Virtual Desktop                                  

Documents and Information Needed During Filing

You will need the following documents and information to file for unemployment:

  • Social security number
  • The name and contact information of your last employer
  • The start and end dates of your most recent employer
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent refugee - Alien registration number
  • If you served in the U.S. military during the past 18 months - DD214, member copy 4
  • If you worked for the federal government during the past 18 months - SF-8
  • The names, dates of birth and social security numbers of any dependents (up to four) that you claim on your federal income tax return* 

*You can claim your spouse as a dependent if her/his gross wages were $120 or less in the week prior to filing your claim. Self-employment does not count as gross wages for dependent purposes.

Unemployed? We want to help.

Claim Weekly Benefits

To maintain eligibility, you must file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits each week that shows you meet all of the requirements. The claim week begins on Sunday and ends on the following Saturday. You should file online as soon as you can on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. When you file your weekly claim, you will answer questions related to your work activities and income for the prior week. You must report any changes in work or wage status. Failure to report changes may lead to overpayment penalties or criminal prosecution for fraud. Fraud convictions can result in fines and/or imprisonment.

How to Claim Weekly Benefits

Submit your weekly claim for unemployment insurance benefits online Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. on Saturday to 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

You will use the account you created when filing your initial unemployment claim to file   weekly claims, but you will need to create a PIN to access your online weekly claim account. Login to your account by entering your social security number here.

Answer the questions accurately and completely, making sure you report any changes or lack of availability for work. You must report if you turned down a job offer or any monetary support, including pension payments, severance pay, or vacation pay.

Claim Denials or Discrepancies

Your unemployment insurance claim could be denied if the information you provide is incomplete, incorrect, or if you do not meet all eligibility criteria. Your former employer(s) are notified when you file for unemployment, and if the employer disputes your claim or gives different information than you provided, your claim could be denied or called into question. If you work 32 hours or more in any week you claim benefits or if you earn more wages than your benefit amount, your benefits could be stopped.

The Quality Control Bureau reviews nine randomly selected claims and nine benefit denial decisions each week to determine if benefits were appropriately paid or denied. The selected claimants are required to participate in the verification process in order to continue receiving unemployment benefits. If you are selected, a Notice of Selection will be mailed to you. The notice will contain a time and date for a telephone interview with a Quality Control Auditor, which you must attend if you want to continue receiving benefits.

If your claim is denied or in review, you have the right to appeal the decision. You should continue to file weekly benefit claims while you wait for your appeal determination. If your appeal is overturned, you may be able to collect previously denied payments, as long as you file your weekly claims.

Appeals Process for Denied Claims

You can file an initial appeal using forms provided by the state of Iowa. Fill out the form completely and accurately and provide the following information:

  • Social security number
  • Email address
  • Former employer’s information
  • Date of the determination
  • Reason you disagree with the determination
  • Personal contact information.

File your initial appeal online at the Iowa Online Appeal of Unemployment Insurance Decision or by mail using the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Form. Your appeal must be received or postmarked within ten days from the date of the decision listed on your denial letter. If the tenth day falls on a weekend or state holiday, your appeal must be received the following business day.

An Iowa Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will assess your case during a telephone hearing. Follow the instructions in your Notice of Hearing to register your telephone number. You must provide a contact telephone number or you will not be notified of the hearing. You must attend your hearing. If cannot attend the hearing on the scheduled date and time, call the Appeals Bureau immediately to reschedule.

During the hearing, you can present evidence to support your case, including witnesses and documents directly related to your case. The ALJ will make a determination based on the evidence presented at the hearing. If you disagree with the outcome of the hearing, you can file a second appeal with the Employment Appeal Board (EAB). You must mail your appeal within 15 days of the hearing to the Employment Appeal Board. You may include a written statement of the reasons you believe you are entitled to receive unemployment benefits. The Board will review the evidence presented during the initial hearing, including a recording of the hearing.

The EAB will reverse, modify, or agree with the Administrative Law Judge’s ruling, or it may send the case back to the ALJ for further review.  If you disagree with the EAB’s determination, you can make a final appeal to the Iowa District Court.               

Office of Appeals Contact Information

Unemployment Insurance Appeals Bureau

Iowa Workforce Development

1000 E Grand Avenue

Des Moines, IA 50319-0209

Des Moines local: 515-281-3747

Toll-free in Iowa: 800-532-1483

Toll-free outside of Iowa: 800-247-5205

Fax: 515-478-3528


Employment Appeal Board

Lucas State Office Building

Fourth Floor

Des Moines, Iowa 50319 

If you have questions about how to file an appeal, call Iowa Workforce Development at

(515) 281-3747, Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.