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Unemployment Benefits Eligibility
General Benefits Eligibility Criteria
Eligibility for Mississippi unemployment is determined by a series of criteria. These are set by the state at the beginning of the fiscal year based on funds raised by unemployment taxes and the current unemployment situation.
Though they typically don't vary drastically from year-to-year, the exact numbers may be tweaked slightly. That's why applying for benefits is still the best way to know if you qualify, as you'll be provided with the most up-to-date information.
Work Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for Mississippi unemployment, you must meet the following work eligibility criteria:
- Be able and available for work
- Seek full-time work
- Cannot have quit under your own volition or due to misconduct
- Be unemployed through no fault of your own (such as work misconduct)
- Register for work at a WIN Job Center near you (to be discussed below)
- File weekly claims for benefits
- Earned wages in at least two quarters of your base period to qualify
The latter point is perhaps the most important. If you have not earned enough money from an employer who paid unemployment taxes, you simply cannot receive unemployment benefits.
Wages Eligibility Criteria
Mississippi unemployment benefits eligibility is based on your earnings during your base period quarters. A quarter is a three-month period, including January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December.
The base period is the first four of the last five completed quarters before the date you applied for unemployment.
EXAMPLE: If you filed for unemployment in August 2016, the last five quarters would include April 2015 through June 2016. The most recently completed quarter (April-June) would not be included, so your base period would be April 2015 through March 2016.
To meet your wages criteria based on your base period, you must have:
- Worked at least two quarters
- Earned at least $780 in the highest quarter
- Earned 40 times your Weekly Benefit Amount in the base period
EXAMPLE: If you worked two quarters, but earned only up to $779 in your highest quarter,: you would not qualify. If you earned $780 in your highest quarter, but your Weekly Benefit Amount was set at $200 and you made less than $8,000 for the base period, you would not qualify.
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Unemployment Availability Limits
Claimants can collect benefits for a total of 26 weeks during the life of a claim. A claim year is the 52-week period following the date you initially file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. After submitting an application for unemployment, even if you meet work and wage eligibility criteria, you may still be denied benefits if you:
- Lost your job for personal misconduct related to your work
- Quit your job without a justifiable reason (such as a health concern)
- Refuse suitable work or continually fail to apply for suitable work
- Lost your job after a labor dispute
- Receive a pension to which your base period employer contributes
- Receive or seek unemployment benefits from a different state
These situations may cancel your unemployment benefits. If you work a part-time job, your benefits will be decreased based on a simple formula: any earnings over $40 will be taken from your Weekly Benefit Amount.
EXAMPLE: You receive $220 in unemployment benefits, but earned $50 in wages for the week. The $10 above $40 would be taken from the $220, so you would receive a Weekly Benefit Amount of $210.
Like other states in the country, Mississippi is eligible for federal Extended Benefits during times of extreme unemployment. This program offers additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits that are paid by the federal government.
The most recent benefits under that program, which began after the 2008 recession, were cancelled in 2013, and Mississippi currently offers no extended benefits of its own.