2018 Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook

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Table of Contents

Important Information

This handbook explains your rights and responsibilities when filing an unemployment insurance (UI) benefits claim. It answers common questions and contains general information. This handbook doesn't have the force and effect of a law, rule, or regulation. 

Your failure to follow the instructions in this handbook may lead to:
•    A delay in receiving benefits;
•    The loss of benefits; or 
•    An improper payment of benefits that you must pay back.

If you knowingly break the rules, you could be denied benefits for committing fraud. Those who commit fraud face serious consequences, including civil and criminal penalties.

It is your responsibility to read and understand the information in this handbook. Free interpretative services are available to answer your questions if you need help understanding the English language. If you don’t understand the information in this handbook, call Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) customer service for help at 866-239-0843.

Introduction

Equal Opportunity is the Law

It is against the law for this recipient (IWD) of Federal financial assistance to discriminate on the following basis:

  • Against any individual in the U.S, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief; and
  • Against any beneficiary of programs financially assisted under Title 1 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) or the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) of July 2015, on the basis of the beneficiary’s citizenship/status as a lawfully admitted immigrant authorized to work in the United States, or his or her participation in any WIA or WIOA Title 1 - financially assisted program or activity.

Anyone who believes they have been subjected to discrimination should contact the Equal Opportunity Officer located at:
Iowa Workforce Development 
1000 East Grand Avenue 
Des Moines, IA 50319

Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. For deaf or hard of hearing, use Relay 711. 

Unemployment Insurance

UI is paid entirely by employers who are covered by the Iowa Employment Security Law. Employees do not pay any part of this cost. UI is not based on need; it provides temporary benefits for people who are:

  • Unemployed or working reduced hours through no fault of their own
  • Able to work and available for work
  • Actively looking for work (unless this requirement is  waived by IWD)

The intent is to pay benefits to eligible individuals during periods of unemployment when suitable work is not available. Individuals must meet all eligibility requirements set by law to receive UI benefit payments. This handbook summarizes these conditions.

Social Security Number Use

Social Security Numbers (SSN) are used to:

  • Verify identity with the Social Security Administration
  • Verify eligibility for UI benefits
  • Report UI benefit payments as taxable income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to the Iowa Department of Revenue
  • Detect fraud in federal and state programs
  • Enforce child support orders

Wage, benefit, and other information under SSN may be exchanged with other agencies that administer federally assisted programs.

WARNING: Do not provide a SSN or other personal information unless the representative can verify they are an IWD employee.

Everyone Owns Integrity

Everyone is responsible for upholding UI integrity. Individuals, employers and IWD staff are expected to act honestly and in good faith. Integrity helps IWD prevent errors, fraud and abuse by those who do not follow the UI rules.
The UI program can be confusing. IWD can help individuals with any questions about responsibilities and requirements for receiving UI benefits. While prevention is the key to integrity, IWD helps anyone who may have made a mistake and has improperly received benefits. IWD can be reached by email or phone.

UI Fraud

Fraud is knowingly providing false information or withholding information to receive UI benefits. Fraudulently collecting UI benefits is a serious offense. It can lead to severe penalties, which include:

  • Criminal prosecution, fines and imprisonment
  • Denial of future benefits by administrative penalty
  • Repayment of fraudulently collected UI benefits, plus a 15 percent penalty and daily interest
  • Wage garnishments and liens
  • Interception of state and federal tax refunds

IWD uses automatic wage cross match programs, claim audits and additional investigative tools to detect fraud. IWD also compares state and federal new hire reports to UI claims to ensure that individuals who have returned to work full-time are no longer collecting benefits and individuals who are working part-time are reporting correct earnings. Claim audits are also conducted to confirm work searches were completed for each employer listed on the work search record.

Individuals who have received UI benefits fraudulently, and have outstanding fraud debt including penalty, interest and lien fees will be ineligible to receive UI benefits until the full amount of the debt is paid in full.  Individuals cannot use weekly benefit payments to offset fraud debt. 

If an individual thinks they may have mistakenly reported incorrect information, they should contact IWD to correct the situation before an investigation begins. Contact IWD by email or phone.

Quality Control Reviews

The Quality Control (QC) unit of the UI Integrity Bureau randomly selects claims and benefit denial decisions each week for review, to determine if benefits were accurately paid or denied. Selected individuals are required to participate in the review as a condition of continuing eligibility for UI benefits. A Notice of Selection, containing the date and time of the telephone interview with a QC Auditor, is mailed to each selected individual prior to the review. Individuals will receive a questionnaire for completion prior to the telephone interview. Individuals must have a record of their work searches made for the week under review, as QC will verify the work search with the employer(s). Refusal to cooperate with the auditor will result in a denial of UI benefits.

UI Benefits Application Process

Required Information

Before beginning the application process, individuals need to have the following information available:

  • Social Security Number
  • Complete mailing address, including ZIP code
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Driver's license number or State ID card number
  • Company names for all your employers from the past 18 months as they appear on your paycheck stubs or W-2 forms
  • Complete mailing addresses of employers, including ZIP code and the city in which the business is physically located
  • Your start and end dates with each employer, including month, day, and year
  • Your reason for leaving each employer (lack of work, voluntary quit, discharge, leave of absence)
  • Employment authorization number and expiration date (if a non-citizen)
  • If you served in the military the past 18 months, DD 214 Member #4 Form.
  • If you worked for the federal government as a civilian employee in the last 18 months, Standard Form 8 or Standard Form 50. Also, compile your total wages earned with the federal employer in the last 18 months and indicate how you were paid (hourly, weekly, and monthly).
  • Full legal name(s), SSN, dates of birth and relationship of any dependents, up to a maximum of four

How to Apply for Benefits

The UI benefits application may be filed:

For additional assistance, contact IWD by email or phone.

Claim Effective Date

The effective date of all UI claims, regardless of filing method, will be the Sunday of the week in which the application was filed. The effective date of a claim will not be changed for applications that were not filed in a timely manner. 

IMPORTANT: If an individual waits until after the calendar week has ended on Saturday to file a UI claim, the individual will not be eligible to be paid for the prior week.

Eligibility Requirements

To meet the preliminary eligibility requirements, an individual must:

  • Be totally or partially unemployed
  • Have worked and earned a certain amount of wages in work covered by UI in the last 15 to 18 months
  • Have lost their job through no fault of their own
  • Be able to work and available for work

To remain eligible for UI benefits, an individual must:

  • Be actively seeking work (work search may be waived if certain criteria are met)
  • Be registered for work with IWD (unless waived) at the nearest IowaWORKS center or online at www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov
  • Keep a record of all work search contacts and be ready to provide a copy if requested
  • Notify IWD of any refused job offers or referrals on the weekly claim
  • Report if they quit or are discharged from any job while claiming UI benefits
  • Notify IWD if they move or leave the area for more than three consecutive working days
  • Report all wages (whether holiday, vacation, severance, part-time or any other form of payment) when they are earned, not when payment is received
  • Contact IWD if workers’ compensation, private pension or any other type of pay is received
  • Notify IWD if they enroll in or start school

Reactivating a Claim

An individual can start and stop claiming weekly benefits as many times as necessary during the benefit year. This is called a break in reporting status. Any break in reporting requires the individual to file another initial claim application during the week they want to start collecting benefits again. Any employment during the break must be reported.

If any weekly claim filing is missed during the claim year, an individual must file an initial claim application to reactivate their claim. This would apply even if 1 week is not filed timely.  Refer to the instructions in the “Filing Weekly Claim” section.

Monetary Eligibility

Each individual claiming UI benefits will be mailed a monetary record. Even though the individual may have earned qualifying wages, additional requirements must be met and maintained to receive UI benefits.

Monetary Record

The monetary record contains the:

  • Date the benefit year begins
  • Number of dependents claimed
  • Work search requirements
  • Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA)
  • Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA)
  • Employers the individual worked for 
  • during the base period and the wages earned each quarter
  • Last employer, as reported by the individual

Carefully review all information on the monetary record. Contact IWD immediately or send a letter appealing the monetary record if any information is incorrect. The appeal should include copies of any check stubs, W-2 forms or other proof of earnings, if available.

Benefit Year

The benefit year is a one year period from the claim effective date. Benefits may be paid on a claim until the MBA is exhausted or the benefit year ends, whichever comes first. The UI claim expires at the end of the benefit year, even if all funds have not been paid. If the MBA is exhausted before the claim expires, the individual must wait until the end of the benefit year before filing a new claim.

Base Period  

The base period is a four quarter (one year) time frame using the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters at the time an initial UI claim is filed. Qualified earnings in the base period determine the WBA and MBA. Earnings received in the current and most recent quarter are not used to determine monetary eligibility.

EXAMPLE: If a new claim is filed in April, May, or June (second quarter) of this year, the base period is January 1 through December 31 of last year.

Alternate Base Period

If an individual fails to qualify monetarily using the regular base period, it may be possible to use an Alternate Base Period (ABP). To request ABP or additional information, contact IWD.

Wage Requirements

To be eligible for benefits an individual must have:

  • Been paid wages by covered employers in two or more quarters of the base period
  • Total base period wages of at least 1.25 times the wages earned in the highest base period quarter
  • Wages of at least $1,610 in one quarter and at least $800 in a different quarter (program year July 1, 2018 - July 6, 2019)

Dependents

The number of dependents is used to determine the WBA and MBA. Adding dependents will increase the WBA and may increase the MBA. A dependent is any individual who was claimed on the prior year’s income tax return. A claim may include a maximum of four identity verified dependents. Non-verified dependents will not be added to the claim. Dependents can only be added within 10 days of filing the initial claim.

A spouse may be considered a dependent if they earned $120.00 or less in wages (excluding self-employment) during the week before the claim effective date.

Dependents cannot be:

  • The individual claiming UI benefits
  • A person already listed on another non-expired claim
  • A spouse who listed the individual on their non-expired claim 

Dependents claimed incorrectly may result in an overpayment.

Weekly Benefit Amount

The WBA is determined by the wages in the high quarter of the base period and by the number of dependents claimed (up to a maximum of four). The minimum and maximum WBAs change each year for new claims filed after the first Sunday in July.

To calculate the WBA, the high quarter of the base period is divided by:

  • 23 for zero dependents (maximum of $467)
  • 22 for one dependent (maximum of $485)
  • 21 for two dependents (maximum of $502)
  • 20 for three dependents (maximum of $529)
  • 19 for four dependents (maximum of $573)

Maximum Benefit Amount

The MBA is either 26 times the WBA or one-third of the total base period wages, whichever is less. 

If the individual’s last employer permanently closed the business location, the MBA may be increased. The MBA will be either 39 times the WBA or one-half the total base period wages, whichever is less. The WBA will not change.

Second Benefit Year 

To be eligible for a second claim year, individuals must earn wages in covered employment of at least eight times their weekly benefit amount since the effective date of their previous unemployment claim. Second benefit year claims can still be filed even if eight times the weekly benefit has not been earned. After the eight times the weekly benefit amount of the previous claim year has been earned, individuals should contact IWD Customer Service.

Non-Monetary Issues

Protested Claim

Any employers an individual worked for in the last 18 months may be charged for the individual’s UI benefits. Because of this, employers are able to protest the claim seeking relief from the benefit charges. The protest must be filed within ten calendar days after the notice of claim is sent to the employer. Claims are automatically protested if the individual indicates they were fired from or quit their most recent job.

Fact-Finding Interview

If a claim is protested, IWD may arrange a fact-finding interview. Individuals are still required to file weekly claims until the fact-finding process is completed. If an individual is found eligible for unemployment and weekly claims have not been filed, back-dating claims will not occur.

The fact-finding interview will be conducted by phone. The individual and the employer will receive a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Fact-Finding Interview letter containing the scheduled date, time, and the phone number where the individual will be called for the interview. The notice contains complete instructions including what to do if the telephone number listed is incorrect. Failure to participate in a fact-finding interview could result in denial of UI benefits.

After the fact-finding interview, an eligibility decision will be mailed to the individual and employer. Either party can appeal the decision if they disagree. Appeal rights and instructions are included on the back of the decision notice.

Appeal Process

First-Level Appeal  — Administrative Law Judge 

Both the employer and the individual have the right to appeal the fact-finding decision and present testimony to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The appeal must be postmarked or received by the appeal deadline listed in the decision or the right to appeal may be lost. The appeal period is extended to the next business day if the appeal deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.

Online Appeal

To access and submit an online appeal form, visit www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov and provide the requested information. A written appeal can be mailed to:
Iowa Workforce Development
Appeals Bureau
1000 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319

The written appeal should include:

  • Individual’s name, address and SSN
  • Date of the decision
  • Reason for appealing
  • Hearing preference (telephone or in-person)
  • Language for interpreter, if needed

Contact the Appeals Bureau for assistance by:

Once a decision is appealed, a formal hearing will be scheduled with an administrative law judge. Hearings are typically held by phone, however, the individual or the employer may request an in-person hearing. The party requesting the in-person hearing must travel to the IowaWORKS Center closest to the other party. There are 15 IowaWORKS Centers where in- person hearings are held.

Note: If the individual is still unemployed, they should keep filing weekly claims during the appeal process.

If a notice for a phone hearing is received, it will contain complete instructions. Both parties must provide a current phone number to confirm participation in the hearing. The telephone number may be provided by calling the Appeals Bureau or entering the number on the web page listed on the notice. The Appeals Bureau phone number on the notice is toll-free.

Warning: If a current number is not provided to the Appeals Bureau prior to the scheduled hearing, the party will not be called to participate.

Unlike the fact-finding interview, an appeal hearing is a formal process where all parties are sworn in and the hearing is recorded. The administrative law judge will take new statements concerning the issue even if a statement was already given at the fact-finding interview.

Either party can submit additional evidence at the hearing, so participation is important. If an individual chooses to hire an attorney to attend the hearing, the individual will be responsible to pay the full expenses for the attorney.

The administrative law judge will make an impartial decision based on the information presented at the hearing and the contents of the individual’s file. The administrative law judge’s decision should be mailed within 14 days.

Second–Level Appeal — Employment Appeal Board

If either the employer or individual disagrees with the administrative law judge’s decision, it may be appealed to the Employment Appeal Board. The Employment Appeal Board is part of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals located in the Lucas State Office Building. The appeal must be postmarked within 15 calendar days from the mailing date of the administrative law judge’s decision.

All parties will receive a CD of the administrative law judge’s hearing recording and will be given an opportunity to submit a written summary of their side. The Employment Appeal Board does not hold hearings. The board decides each case by reviewing all the evidence that was presented to the administrative law judge. The board may:

  • Affirm or reverse the administrative law judge’s decision or
  • Send the case back to the administrative law judge for further review or
  • Order a new hearing and decision if the evidence in the administrative law judge’s hearing is not sufficient or incomplete.

It usually takes 45 to 75 days from the date the appeal is filed to receive the Employment Appeal Board decision.

If an employer or individual disagrees with the Employment Appeal Board decision, a petition may be filed for judicial review in Iowa District Court or request a rehearing before the Employment Appeal Board. The procedure and appeal deadlines are provided on the Employment Appeal Board decision.

Continued Eligibility

Work Search Requirements

Unless waived by IWD, individuals are required to make a minimum of two job contacts each week. The work search requirement may be waived if an individual is temporarily unemployed and expects to be recalled by their former employer within a reasonable period of time or is in school and approved for Department Approved Training (DAT). The work search requirement will be determined each time a claim is filed.

In order to meet the work search requirements, individuals must make two job contacts between Sunday and Saturday of the week they are claiming benefits. Contacts may be made in person, online, by mail, email or faxing résumés or applications. Telephone calls are not acceptable. The work search must be a reasonable and honest effort to find suitable work. Failure to perform an honest effort work search may result in the denial of benefits. Participation in reemployment services activities may qualify as a work search.

Individuals must be willing to accept a reasonable wage for the job for which they are applying. An individual may not apply for the same position with the same employer more than once every six weeks.
Individuals must keep a written record of all work search contacts for a period of one year and be ready to provide a copy if requested by IWD. Failure to comply may result in denial of benefits.
The information needs to include:

  • Date of the contact
  • Company name, address and phone number
  • Contact name
  • Method of contact i.e. in person, online, email, mail
  • Results of contact

Members of a union hiring hall are required to be in good standing and must contact the union in accordance to hall rules.

Personal Identification Number

Whether filing a weekly claim online or by phone, a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) is required. This number is selected by the individual the first time a weekly claim is filed. The PIN must be four digits and cannot include the same number (i.e. 1111 or 3333) or numbers in a consecutive order (i.e. 1234 or 6789). The PIN protects a claim from being accessed by someone other than the individual and should be kept secure. Individuals should choose a PIN that is easy to remember since they will use this number each week they file a continued claim for benefits.

NOTE: In some cases, a new PIN must be selected after reactivating an existing claim.

Individuals must keep their PIN confidential and should never let anyone file their weekly claim on their behalf. Individuals should contact IWD to reset their PIN if it has been compromised.

Filing Weekly Claims

How to File

After you file your initial claim, file weekly claims online at www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov for every week you are unemployed or your hours are reduced.  You must file a weekly claim for any week that you want payment even if your eligibility is being decided or you have an appeal pending. Payment will not be made for any weeks that are not filed timely. If a weekly claim filing is missed for one or more weeks, a new initial claim application must be filed. It is your responsibility to check the status of your claim during the week to ensure the prior week has been recorded.

To request UI benefit payments during weeks of unemployment, individuals must certify online they:

  • Are currently unemployed or working reduced hours
  • Are able to work and available for work
  • Have not refused any job offers or referrals to a job
  • Are actively looking for work (unless waived)
  • Are reporting any pay or pension payment

 

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Start of UI claim week one

 

 

 

 

 

Last day of week one (no filing)

First day to file week one

File for week one

File for week one

File for week one

File for week one

Last day to file for week one

Last day of week two (no filing)

First day to file week two

File for week two

File for week two

File for week two

File for week two

Last day to file for week two

Last day of week
three (no filing)

First day to file week three

File for week three

File for week three

File for week three

File for week three

Last day to file for week three

Last day of week four (no filing)

 

When to File
The current week is the week that just ended on Saturday. Weekly claims must be filed 8 am Sunday through 5:30 pm Friday for the prior week only. This means individuals have six days to file the previous week’s claim. See the chart above for the days available to file. Weekly claims can be filed online using a mobile device or computer at https://uiclaims.iwd.iowa.gov/weeklyclaims/. Delay in filing your weekly claim could result in denial of benefits.

IMPORTANT: You will receive confirmation that the claim has been processed successfully.  If you don’t receive confirmation, the process must be repeated until the claim has been successfully submitted. 

Preparing to file the Weekly Claim

Individuals should have the following information available when filing their weekly claim:

  • SSN
  • PIN
  • Total amount of gross wages (before deductions) earned during the week
  • Total amount of gross holiday pay, gross vacation and severance, if applicable

To calculate gross earnings, multiply the number of hours worked (Sunday through Saturday) times the rate of pay. Example: 10 hours X $12.00/hour = $120.00 in gross earnings. 

Individuals are encouraged to keep a piece of paper and pencil handy in case they need to write down any information during the process. This will be beneficial in case IWD needs to be contacted for any issues that may arise.

Reporting Earnings

Gross earnings or gross wages are your earnings before taxes or other payroll deductions are made. Earnings or wages must be reported on the weekly claim during the week the wages are earned, not when the wages are paid. Earnings must be reported even if the payment has not been received yet. To calculate the amount to report, the individual should multiply the number of hours worked by the hourly wage. Individuals should report the full gross amount of earnings and IWD will calculate any deductions. If an individual earns $15 or more over their WBA, they will not receive a benefit payment.

Earnings are calculated differently depending on the type of income. See the chart on the right for general guidelines on deductibility.

PARTIALLY DEDUCTIBLE FROM THE BENEFIT PAYMENT BASED ON A FORMULA

An individual may earn up to 25 percent of their WBA before the benefit payment is reduced but there is still a requirement to report all earnings even if under 25 percent. Earnings higher than 25 percent will reduce the benefit payment.

  • Wages
  • Holiday pay
  • Stand-by pay
  • Tips, gratuities, commission and incentive pay*
  • Strike pay,
  • Any compensation other than cash (i.e. room and board, cell phone)

Example: An individual’s WBA is $400 and they earn $370.

  • 25% of $400 is $100. $100 is not deducted from the WBA.
  • $370 - $100 = $270. The remaining $270 is deducted from the WBA.
  • $400 - $270 = $130.
  • $130 is the payment amount for the week.

FULLY DEDUCTIBLE FROM THE BENEFIT PAYMENT

Each dollar the individual earns reduces their

benefit payment by one dollar (dollar-for-dollar).

  • Vacation pay and paid time off
  • Severance pay
  • Pension, retirement, annuity, or any other similar period payment
  • Workers’ Compensation (temporary total disability)
  • Paid excused leave (funeral or personal leave)

Example: An individual’s WBA is $400 and they receive a $370 vacation payout for the week they are claiming.

  • $400 - $370 = $30. $30 is the payment amount for the week

NOT DEDUCTIBLE FROM THE BENEFIT PAYMENT

  • Self-employment income
  • National Guard duty pay
  • Social Security benefits

Even though these payments do not need to be reported to IWD, the individual must still maintain their eligibility as instructed in this handbook.

Reporting Vacation Pay

Vacation pay is reportable for the first 5 work days following the last day worked.  You must report vacation pay on your weekly claim, depending on the number of days of vacation pay you received.  Vacation pay is applied to an 8 hour work day and a 5 day work week, Monday through Friday. If you received less than 5 days of vacation pay, you should report the amount and number of days that you received or will received. 

Vacation Pay 40 hours or less
If you received less than 5 days of vacation pay, you should report the amount and number of days that you received or will received. 

Ex: Employee's last day worked is Wednesday.  She will receive 32 hours vacation pay in the amount of $800.  The money should be reported on weekly claim as follows:

$800/4 = $200 per day

  Sunday Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday Thursday  Friday   Saturday
Week 1         Last day  $200
 (8 hrs) 
 $200
 (8 hrs) 
 
Week 2  File for last week 1
Report $400 vacation pay
 $200
 (8 hrs)
 $200
 (8 hrs)
       
Week 3  File for last week 2
Report $400 vacation pay
           

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vacation Pay in excess of 40 hours
If you received or will receive vacation pay in excess of 40 hours, you must take the total amount and divide by 5.

Example: Employees last day is Wednesday. She will receive 80 hours of vacation totally $1000.  The money should be reported on the weekly claim as follows:

$1000/5 - $200 per day

  Sunday Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday Thursday  Friday   Saturday
Week 1         Last day  $200
 (8 hrs) 
 $200
 (8 hrs) 
 
Week 2  File for last week 1
Report $400 vacation pay
 $200
 (8 hrs)
 $200
 (8 hrs)
 $200
 (8 hrs)
     
Week 3  File for last week 2
Report $600 vacation pay
           

 

 

 

 

* Total vacation dollar amount / 5 = dollar amount to report for each day. 

Self-Employment

Income from self-employment is not considered wages and is not deducted from UI benefits. However, eligibility requirements must still be met. To receive UI benefits, an individual must be able, available, actively looking for work and willing to accept suitable work. If it is determined self-employment prevents an individual from accepting suitable work, they may be disqualified due to being unavailable for work.

Work Registration Requirement

Individuals required to search for work must register for work with IWD online at www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov or at the nearest IowaWORKS center. Registration must be completed within ten days of filing the initial claim. Failure to complete a registration could result in denial of benefits.

Ability to Work and Available for Work

Individuals must be able and available for work while claiming benefits. It is important to notify IWD of any condition or situation which would prevent an individual from working, accepting work, or looking for work the majority of the week. These situations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Illness, injury, or hospitalization
  • Being in jail
  • Attending school
  • Being on vacation or out of town
  • No childcare
  • No transportation

Individuals should contact IWD to report any changes that could affect their benefits.

Suitable Work/Work Refusals

Individuals are required to search for and accept suitable work, unless waived by IWD. Factors used to determine if the job offer is acceptable include wage, length of unemployment, working conditions and job duties.

The wage requirements for determining if work is suitable are calculated using the wages earned in the high quarter of the base period. The high base period quarter is divided by 13 (the number of weeks in a quarter) to calculate the average weekly wage (AWW).

Example: An individual’s earnings in the high quarter are $5,200. To compute the AWW, divide $5,200 by 13. The AWW is $400 which equals $10 per hour in a 40 hour work week.

A job offer may be considered suitable if the offered wages are at or above the following percentages of the AWW:

  • 100 percent if work is offered in the first five weeks of a claim
  • 75 percent if work is offered during the 6th through 12th week of a claim
  • 70 percent if work is offered during the 13th through 18th week of a claim
  • 65 percent if work is offered after the 18th week of a claim

Individuals are not required to accept any job offers that are below the federal or state minimum wage.

EXAMPLE: If an individual is offered work that pays $290 per week ($7.25 per hour in a 40 hour work week) during the ninth week of the claim, the job offer is not considered suitable because it is below 75 percent of the AWW.
When the individual files a weekly claim, they must report if they refused any job offer or referral during that week.

Pensions and Retirement Payouts

When an individual files a weekly claim, they must report any pension payment, 401K payout or other similar periodic or lump sum payments. IWD will contact the individual for the following information:

  • Name of contributing employer(s)
  • Percent employer contributed
  • Effective date
  • Gross amount

Once the above information is received, IWD will determine if the payment is deductible from UI benefits.

Payments

First Benefit Payment

The first payment is issued approximately three weeks after an application for UI benefits is processed, if all the eligibility requirements are met. Payments may be delayed until all outstanding issues are resolved.

Method of Payment

All individuals who file an unemployment insurance claim will be mailed an Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) Debit Card managed by Bank of America. The card will not expire for three years, so please do not destroy the card when once unemployment insurance ends. The same card should  be used if unemployment insurance benefits are needed  in the future. Any payments made by IWD will be deposited to the IWD Debit Card. 

The benefit payment is deposited three to four business days after the weekly claim is filed, if all eligibility requirements are met. Holidays may delay the payment.

The IWD Debit Card is issued and serviced by Bank of America. A new card may take seven to ten business days to arrive. Through the website, cardholders can:

  • Check the account balance
  • Review transaction history
  • Sign up for balance alerts (text messages and email)
  • Sign up for notification of deposits by email

Bank of America customer service is available 24/7 for card inquiries at:

Important Information

  • Only IWD can update an individual’s personal information with Bank of America.
  • Address or name changes should be reported to IWD.
  • Card account balance and transaction history are not available to IWD staff.
  • To report a lost or stolen card or order a replacement card, Bank of America must be contacted directly by the individual.

Other Deductions

Child Support Deduction

The Child Support Recovery Unit may withhold up to 50 percent of an individuals UI benefit payment for a child support obligation. The individual is mailed a notification with the beginning date and the amount of the deduction. The amount withheld is included on the IRS Form 1099-G, since it was paid to another agency on the individuals behalf. Requests to modify or stop the deductions must be made to the Child Support Recovery Unit or through the court system.

Overpayment

Individuals are responsible for repaying any benefits they were not eligible to receive. Future UI benefit payments are withheld until the non-fraud overpayment has been recovered in full. If the individual is not making attempts to repay the overpayment, the debt may be recovered by withholding state and federal tax refunds, casino and lottery winnings, and vendor payments. Overpayments caused by fraud include a 15 percent penalty. All overpayments are assessed interest of 1/30th of 1 percent per day until the debt is paid in full.  Individuals with fraud debt are not eligible to receive benefits until the debt, including penalty, interest and fees have been paid in full. 

NOTE: Overpayment amounts include payments received by the individual and payments made on behalf of the individual to revenue agencies for tax withholdings or to the Child Support Recovery Unit.

UI Taxes

UI benefits are taxable. UI payments of $10.00 or more are reported annually to the Internal Revenue Service and the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance. An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1099-G is mailed by January 31 of each year. This form  provides important tax information that must be reported on the state and federal income tax returns, such as the amount of benefits paid during the tax year and the amount of state and federal taxes withheld.

IWD can withhold 10 percent of the benefit payment for federal taxes and 5 percent for Iowa taxes. Individuals elect tax withholdings on their application for UI benefits. To make changes in tax withholdings, the Tax Withholding Agreement Form 60-0351 must be submitted to IWD. 

Additional Information

Reemployment Services

Studies completed by the U.S. Department of Labor found that people who received reemployment services returned to work earlier than people who did not receive services.

For individuals that are required to search for work, IWD uses profiling to select individuals to participate in Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA). Profiling looks at a variety of factors such as occupation, industry, education, length of employment, wages, etc. Participants are selected within the first five paid weeks of their claim.

RESEA is designed to assure individuals are registered for work with IWD and to provide customized reemployment services. If selected, participation is mandatory as it is a condition of eligibility for UI benefits. Non-participation could result in a denial of benefits.

Participants will receive a letter informing the claimant where to report and what documents to bring. Participants must contact their RESEA Advisor prior to their scheduled appointment if they are unable to attend.  Appointments may be rescheduled for justifiable cause.

This program is an overall eligibility assessment review of a UI claim. The participants meet one-on-one with a RESEA Advisor to discuss:

  • benefits and requirements of the RESEA program including how non-participation can affect their UI benefits
  • assess their UI eligibility and address any possible UI issues
  • review the record keeping of claimant’s work searches and discuss their work search process
  • provide the claimant with Labor Market Information (LMI), briefly review their resume                                      
  • review the claimant’s registration in IWorks to ensure that it is properly completed
  • schedule claimant for a IowaWORKS Center Orientation workshop
  • schedule claimant for National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) testing to be completed within 30 calendar days of RESEA assessment
  • refer claimants to additional reemployment services/activities such as; resume writing, Future Ready Iowa, WIOA, ex-offenders services etc. when employment barriers exist
  • develop or revise Initial Service Plan (ISP) that will include work search activities, accessing services provided through IowaWORKS and self-service tools

Department Approved Training 

Individuals attending school or a training course may request to have IWD waive the work search requirement. A written application for Department Approved Training (DAT) should be submitted to IWD. The application must include the following information:

  • Name of the school
  • Type of training
  • Class schedule
  • Beginning and ending dates of training

A decision will be issued approving or denying the request. The decision will include appeal rights. Although the work search requirement is waived, the individual must continue to be able and available to attend school. The individual must also file a weekly claim to receive payment while they are in school. If training stops for any reason, the individual must notify IWD and begin making work search contacts immediately.

Training Extension Benefits

Individuals attending school or a training course may apply for Training Extension Benefits (TEB) to receive an additional 26 weeks of benefits. TEB is available to individuals who:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements for UI Benefits
  • Are an Iowa resident
  • Are separated for one of the following reasons:
    • Laid-off
    • Voluntarily separated from a full-time position in a declining occupation
    • Involuntarily separated from a full-time position due to a permanent reduction of operations at the last place of employment

In addition to the above requirements, the school or training course must be one of the following:

  • High demand occupation as defined by IWD
  • High-tech occupation or training approved under the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

​TEB is only payable after all other UI benefits are exhausted. The TEB application and lists of high demand and declining occupations are available on the IWD website.

Military Wages

Individuals who served on active military duty during the base period can file a UI claim in any state as long as they are physically present in that state at the time of filing. To add military wages to a claim, the individual must have served on active duty in the Armed Forces or served at least 90 consecutive days of active service in a US Military Reserve Force. The individual must provide a copy of their DD–214 (member copy 4) to determine if military wages can be used on the UI claim. 

The US Military service, not IWD, will determine if the earnings can be used on a claim. If the wages can be used, a new monetary record will be sent to the individual. If the request to add wages is denied, the individual will receive a decision with appeal rights. The DD–214 may be submitted any of the following ways:

  • at a local IowaWORKS Center
  • by fax to the UI Military Unit at 515-281-4057
  • by mail to:
    UI Benefits Bureau
    PO Box 10332
    ​Des Moines, IA 50306-0332

Federal Wages

Federal wages are not assigned to a state until after a UI claim is filed.  An individual who worked for the federal government during the base period must report this employment when filing a UI claim. IWD will send a request to the federal employer to determine if the wages can be assigned to Iowa. Once wages are assigned, a new monetary record will be sent to the individual.

Combined Wages Claim

Individuals who have worked in Iowa and other states during the base period may request to have their out of state wages added to the Iowa UI claim. Out-of-state wages will only be combined with the Iowa wages if the additional earnings will increase the WBA or MBA. The individual has the option to file in any state where an employer reported earnings for them during the base period.

Interstate Claim

Individuals who move out of Iowa must immediately notify IWD of any address change. Mail from IWD may not be forwarded by the U.S. Postal Service. Individuals who are required to do work searches must contact the workforce agency in the state where they reside to register for work. Individuals should still file their weekly claim in Iowa. Benefits   will continue to be paid by Iowa until the individual begins working, exhausts benefits or the benefit year expires.

Trade Act

Trade Readjustment Allowance and Trade Adjustment Assistance are programs available for individual who are unemployed or underemployed due to increased foreign imports. Affected employers must be approved by the US Department of Labor. For more information contact a local IowaWORKS office or IWD.

Release of Information 

UI claims are confidential by law. Individuals may request a copy of their records by submitting a signed, written request to IWD or by contacting IWD by phone. Only general information may be given over the phone. Wage information may be provided to a third party only if the individual provides IWD with a written, signed request.

As required by law, IWD will release information on UI claims to various federal and state agencies if requested.

Glossary

1099-G
The tax form individuals receive indicating total UI benefits received and taxes withheld during a calendar year.

ABLE AND AVAILABLE
Individuals who claim UI benefits must be ready, willing and able to work. They must be prepared to start employment immediately and be physically and mentally capable of working in order to receive UI benefits.

ADDITIONAL UI CLAIM
A request filed by a individual, who has established a benefit year that has not expired, to reopen a UI claim after a period of employment since the filing of individual’s last UI claim, provided that benefits were not previously exhausted. One or more additional UI claims may be filed during a benefit year.

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE (ALJ)
The IWD official who conducts UI Appeal hearings.

APPEAL
The right of interested parties to challenge a determination on the basis the determination is not legally correct or has been based on incorrect or incomplete facts. All appeals must be in writing, and must be filed by the specified deadline.

APPEAL HEARING
A formal proceeding held by an Administrative Law Judge to consider an appeal of a fact- finding decision concerning benefits or an employer’s tax liability.

ALTERNATE BASE PERIOD
The alternate base period is the four completed calendar quarters prior to the calendar quarter in which a claim begins.

BASE PERIOD
The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the calendar quarter in which the claim begins.

BENEFITS
The amount of UI payments an individual receives each week.

BENEFIT WEEK
A calendar week, it starts at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and ends at midnight the following Saturday.

BENEFIT YEAR
The one-year period beginning with the Sunday in which the valid initial claim for UI benefits is filed. It is during this period the individual may receive up to 26 full weeks of benefits.

BREAK IN REPORTING STATUS
An individual can start and stop claiming weekly benefits as many times as necessary during the benefit year. This is called a break in reporting status. Any break in reporting requires the individual to file another initial claim application to reactivate their claim.

CALENDAR QUARTER
The three-month periods beginning with January, April, July and October. 
1st Quarter – January 1 through March 31
2nd Quarter – April 1 through June 30
3rd Quarter – July 1 through September 30 
4th Quarter – October 1 through December 31

CLAIMING BENEFITS
To receive a benefit payment after filing the initial claim for benefits, the individual must certify their eligibility by filing a weekly claim.

COMBINED WAGE CLAIM (CWC)
An Iowa claim in which the wages earned during a base period in Iowa are combined with the base period wages earned in another state to qualify for benefits or to increase the benefit amounts.

COMBINED WAGE CLAIM TRANSFER (CWC-T)
Iowa wages transferred to another state for use on a UI claim.

COVERED EMPLOYMENT
Work performed for an employer who is subject to the Iowa Employment Security Law and who pays UI taxes. It is also known as insured employment.

COVERED WAGES
Wages paid to an employee by an employer who is required to pay UI taxes.

DEPARTMENT APPROVED TRAINING
An individual attending school or a training course submits a written application to IWD requesting the work search requirement be waived. If the application is approved, the individual must continue to file a weekly claim to receive UI benefits while attending training. If training stops for any reason, the individual must notify IWD and begin making work search contacts immediately.

DEPENDENTS
Any individual who was claimed on the prior year’s income tax return.

DETERMINATION
A decision on a request for insured status, a UI claim for benefits, or any UI issue.

DETERMINATION DATE
The date a determination is made.

DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
A individual becomes unemployed as a result of a declared disaster and lacks the necessary earnings to qualify for an unemployment insurance claim, the individual may be eligible to receive benefits based on non-covered wages.

EFFECTIVE DATE (Benefits)
The date the individuals benefit year begins. UI claims always begin on a Sunday. Usually, it is the Sunday of the week in which the UI claim is actually filed.

EMPLOYMENT APPEAL BOARD
On appeal, the Employment Appeal Board reviews UI benefit decisions made by an IWD ALJ. It is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. One member represents employers, one represents employees, and one is a representative of the public. Located in the Department of Inspections and Appeals.

EXCESSIVE EARNINGS
An individual has earned excessive earnings if they earn $15.00 over their WBA. For any week with excessive earnings, they will not receive a benefit payment. If an individual reports excessive earnings during four consecutive weekly claims, the claim will need to be reactivated before payments can resume.

FACT-FINDER
An Iowa UI Division employee who makes determinations of eligibility on a UI claim.

FACT-FINDING INTERVIEW
An informal interview, usually held over the phone, in which both the individual and employee present information regarding the initial claim.

FEDERAL CLAIM
A claim in which there are wages earned from a Federal employer during the base period. IWD will send a request to the Federal employer to determine if the wages can be assigned to Iowa to be used on a claim.

FRAUD
The willful misrepresentation or nondisclosure of a material fact by a individual for the purpose of obtaining benefits to which the person is not entitled.

INITIAL UI CLAIM
An application by a worker for a determination of eligibility for UI and computation of weekly and maximum benefit amounts.

LAG QUARTER
The calendar quarter immediately before the quarter in which the UI claim is filed.

MAXIMUM BENEFIT AMOUNT (MBA)
The total amount of UI benefits available to an individual during a benefit year. 

MILITARY CLAIM
A claim in which there are military wages earned during the base period. The individual must have served on active duty in the Armed Forces or served at least 90 consecutive days of active service in a US Military Reserve Force. The individual must provide the agency with their DD214 (member copy 4) to determine their eligibility.

MONETARY ELIGIBILITY
Eligibility for UI benefits based on the gross insured wages paid to the individual in the base period. The maximum and minimum benefit amounts are determined by law and are subject to change each year. 

OVERPAYMENT
UI benefits received by an individual who was not entitled because of disqualification, earnings or for other reasons.

PROTEST
A notice to IWD about a potentially disqualifying eligibility issue for UI benefits. Protest on a claim may be initiated by the employer, the individual claiming benefits, or by IWD.

REACTIVATION
Any break in filing weekly claims (break in reporting status) will require the individual to file another initial claim application during the week they want to start collecting benefits again. Any employment during the break must be reported. 

REFUSAL
Individuals may be disqualified for failing to accept an offer or referral of suitable employment.

REGISTER FOR WORK
This is a requirement for most individuals who are not attached to an employer or a union. All individuals are required to complete a registration on IowaJobs.org. Failure to register for work can result in denial of benefits.

REPORTING EARNINGS
If an individual worked during a week they are filing a weekly claim for benefits, they must report gross earnings/wages (before tax and payroll deductions). Earnings should be reported during the week they are earned even if payment has not been received yet. Individuals should report their full amount of earnings and IWD will calculate any deductions that may apply.

REQUALIFICATION
A process by which a individual may establish eligibility for UI through reemployment following a determination of ineligibility and a period of disqualification.

SECOND BENEFIT YEAR
To be eligible for a second claim year, individuals must earn wages in covered employment of at least eight times their weekly benefit amount since the effective date of their previous unemployment claim. 

SELF-EMPLOYMENT
Income from self-employment is not considered wages and is not deducted from unemployment insurance benefits. However, eligibility requirements must still be met. This means the individual must be able, available, actively looking for work and willing to accept suitable work. If it is determined self- employment prevents an individual from accepting suitable work, they may be disqualified due to being unavailable for work.

SEVERANCE
When an employer pays a laid off worker for dismissal, termination, or separation and includes wages in lieu of notice. This is 100 percent deductible.

TRAINING EXTENSION BENEFITS
A individual attending school or a training course in a high demand occupation may apply for 
Training Extension Benefits (TEB) to receive an additional 26 weeks of UI benefits. Application for TEB must be submitted in writing to IWD before the UI claim expires and is only payable after all other UI benefits are exhausted.

TRADE ACT
Programs available for individuals who are unemployed or underemployed as a result of increased foreign imports.  An employer must be certified as Trade eligible by the US Department of Labor.

VALID UI CLAIM
An application for UI benefits that meets all the eligibility conditions specified by the law and establishes a benefit year.

WAGES
All compensation for personal services in cash or other medium unless specifically excluded from 
the definition of wages in Section 96.19(41) of the Iowa Code.

WEEKLY BENEFIT AMOUNT (WBA)
The amount payable to an individual for a payable week of unemployment.

WEEKLY CLAIM
A claim filed every week to receive UI payments once an initial claim has been filed. It is also 
known as “weekly certification”.