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Unemployment Eligibility and Qualifications
General Benefits Eligibility Criteria
The state of Utah sets specific wage and eligibility criteria that you must meet to receive unemployment benefits. Understanding eligibility criteria can help you know whether or not you qualify to receive monetary compensation during your separation from unemployment. DWS requires that you meet all requirements in order to collect benefits. The best way to know if you qualify is to apply with true and accurate information. There are no penalties for denied applications.
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Work Eligibility Criteria
Work eligibility is based on wages earned during a specific time period prior to the date you submit your initial application for unemployment insurance benefits.
Example of calendar quarters:
If your claim is effective between the following dates, your 12-month base period would be:
- January through March, the preceding October 1 to September 30
- April through June, the preceding January 1 to December 31
- July through September, the preceding April 1 to March 31
- October through December, the preceding July 1 to June 30
To qualify for Utah unemployment insurance benefits, you must be:
- Partially or totally unemployed through no fault of your own
- A US citizen or authorized to work in the United States
- Paid wages in at least two of your base period quarters (see below)
- Able and available to work
- Actively seeking full-time work
- Residing within in the United States
Wages Eligibility Criteria
After meeting the above-mentioned work eligibility criteria, you need to meet specific wages eligibility criteria. You must earn at least $3,500 in total wages for the base period and 1.5 times the earning highest quarter during that base period.
The standard base period is the first four of the last five completed quarters of wages. A quarter is a three-month calendar period arranged chronologically including: January through March, April through June, July through September, and October through December.
The alternative base period is the last four completed quarters of wages and only activates if you do not qualify for unemployment based on the standard base period. Any wages from self-employment do not qualify.
EXAMPLE: You earned $3,300 during your highest quarter in the standard base period. This automatically disqualifies you under that base period. However, in the last quarter of the alternate base period (which wasn't used in the standard base period), you earned $3,600, allowing you to meet that criteria.
To meet the last criteria, you need to have made at least $5,400 during the base period, an amount that is 1.5 times higher than $3,600. If you did not, you will not receive benefits.
Unemployment Availability Limits
A series of availability limits are put into place to ensure that people continually search for work. Availability limits that may cancel your unemployment benefits include:
- Failure to report your wages properly
- Being fired for a personal misconduct reason
- Not reporting your job search (will cancel benefits for the week and, if persistent, potentially completely)
- Reporting that you were unable or unavailable to work without a good reason
- Quitting your job without a good cause
- Earning wages higher than your weekly benefits during a payment wek
- Working 40 or more hours during a payment week
Working a part-time job will not cancel your unemployment insurance benefits. However, it will likely decrease your weekly benefit amount. You can earn up to 30 percent of your benefit, but the moment you earn more than 30 percent, a dollar-for-dollar deduction will be taken.
EXAMPLE: You could earn up to $120 per week if you had a $400 weekly benefit, but if you earned $200, you would lose $80 (which is the difference between 200 and 120) from your benefits, to get a new amount of $320.
Currently, there are no state programs for extending unemployment insurance benefits in Utah. However, there are laws set that qualify the state for extended benefits from the federal government during times of higher than usual unemployment. The state is currently below that level, so no extensions are available in 2016.