Iowa Unemployment

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Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

General Benefits Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, you must meet specific state and federal criteria. This includes meeting all work and wages eligibility requirements and continuing to meet them throughout the life of your claim period. If you do not meet one of the requirements, you will not be able to collect unemployment insurance.

The following list will help you determine if you qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits, however, the best way to find out if you are eligible is submit an application for unemployment insurance through Iowa Workforce Development.

Work Eligibility Criteria

To meet work eligibility requirements you must:

  • Be fully or partially unemployed
  • Work less than 32 hours per week
  • Have lost employment through no fault of their own
  • Be able and available for immediate employment
  • Be actively seeking work
  • Register for work with IWD (unless waived) at the nearest Iowa WORKS center or online at
  • Keep a record of all work search contacts

Wages Eligibility Criteria

Upon applying, all claimants are mailed a monetary record which contains your earnings information from employers, including maximum and minimum benefit amounts you could be eligible to receive. The monetary record is determined by your base period earnings.

A base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters at the time an initial claim is filed. The most recent four to six months before a claim is filed are not used to determine the monetary benefit eligibility.

To qualify for unemployment insurance under wages eligibility criteria, you must:

  • Have worked and earned wages from an insured employer in at least two quarters of your base period
  • Earned at least 1.25 times as much as the combined wages in your highest quarter over your total base period
  • Have earned a minimum wage amount for your highest quarter and lowest quarter
    • High-quarter minimum = $1,460 (3.5 percent of the average annual state income)
    • Low-quarter minimum = $730 (1.75 percent of the average annual state income)

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Unemployment Availability Limits

The minimum weekly benefit amount is $62 and the maximum weekly benefit amount is $511. You can collect unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks in one benefit year. A benefit year is the 52 week period that starts on the date you file your initial claim for unemployment insurance. If you work 32 hours or more per week, you will no longer be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. If you attend school, you may not qualify for unemployment unless you are in an approved training program, per guidelines for training extension benefits.

If you are unable to work at any time during your benefit period, you will not be eligible to collect unemployment insurance. Do not file a weekly claim for any week in which you are ill, injured, hospitalized, on vacation, or otherwise unable to search for work or begin employment. You must get approval to continue receiving unemployment benefits if you begin attending school or specialized training during the life of your claim. 

Unemployment Extensions

If your former employer permanently closed the business location where you worked, your Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA) could be extended to 39 times your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA), or one-half your total base period wages, whichever is lower. However, the maximum WBA will not change.

You may be eligible for training extension benefits (TEB) if you are in training for a high-demand occupation, a high-tech occupation, or other training approved by Iowa Workforce Development. If you qualify for TEB benefits, you could receive up to 26 additional weeks of unemployment benefit payments. Your application for training extended benefits must be submitted before the end of the benefit year in which you filed your claim.

When the Iowa unemployment rate reaches above a standardly high level, qualified unemployment claimants may be eligible to receive up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. The unemployment rate is currently low and extended benefits have not been available since September 25, 2013.