2019 UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIMANT HANDBOOK

picture of hand

This is the English version of the 2019 Claimant Handbook.

Todas las páginas de este manual se pueden ver en Español seleccionando "Español" en la parte inferior de cualquier página. Opcionalmente, puede ver la tabla de contenido y el contenido en Español.

You can return to English by clicking on "English" at the bottom of any page displaying in other languages. View the table of contents in English.

The Important Information section is available in a number of languages by selecting the language name below the text of the page.

Table of Contents

Individual

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 us for help at 866-239-0843.

Individual

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.

If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, you 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

Unemployment Insurance is a tax paid entirely by employers who are covered by the Iowa Employment Security Law. You do not pay any part of this cost.

Unemployment Insurance is not based on need; it provides temporary benefits if you are:

 

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

You are not automatically qualified for unemployment insurance benefits.  We will determine your eligibility based on information received from employers in the last 18 months. You must meet all eligibility requirements set by law to receive unemployment insurance benefit payments.

Social Security Number Use

Social Security Numbers (SSN) are used to:

  • Verify your identity with the Social Security Administration
  • Verify your eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits
  • Report unemployment insurance 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

Confidential UC information pertaining to the claimant may be requested and utilized for other governmental purposes, including, but not limited to, verification of eligibility under other government programs.

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

Everyone Owns Integrity

Everyone is responsible for upholding unemployment insurance integrity. Individuals, employers and IWD staff are expected to act honestly and in good faith. Integrity helps us prevent errors, fraud and abuse by those who do not follow the unemployment insurance rules.

We can help you with any questions about your responsibilities and requirements for receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Contact us if you think you have made a mistake in filing your claim. We can be reached by email at uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov or by phone at 866-239-0843, Monday through Friday from 8:00am - 4:30pm.

Unemployment Insurance Fraud

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

  • Criminal prosecution, fines, and imprisonment
  • An overpayment of fraudulently collected unemployment insurance benefits that you must repay, plus a fifteen percent misrepresentation penalty and daily interest
  • Wage garnishments and liens
  • Withholding state and federal tax refunds to be applied to an outstanding overpayment
  • Denial of benefits by administrative penalty, meaning you will be ineligible to receive future unemployment insurance benefits for anywhere from four weeks to the end of your benefit year, even after an overpayment and penalty is paid in full
  • Denial of unemployment insurance benefits while you have an outstanding fraud debt including penalty, interest and lien fees  
     
    • You will be ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits until the total amount of the debt is paid in full  
    • Unemployment insurance benefits cannot be used to offset your debt
    • No benefits will be paid for weeks in which you have an outstanding fraudulent overpayment

We use automatic wage crossmatch programs, claim audits and additional investigative tools to detect fraud. We also compare state and federal new hire reports to unemployment insurance claims. We do this to ensure that if you have returned to work full-time, you are no longer collecting benefits or, if you have returned to work part time, you are correctly reporting your earnings. Claim audits are also conducted to confirm work searches were completed for each employer listed on your work search record.

If you think you may have mistakenly reported incorrect information, you should contact us to correct the situation before an investigation begins. Contact us by email at uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov  or by phone at 866-239-0843, Monday through Friday from 8:00am - 4:30pm.

Quality Control Reviews

We randomly select and review claims each week to determine if unemployment insurance benefits were accurately paid or denied. You must participate in the review if you are selected in order to remain eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.  If selected, you will receive a Notice of Selection letter by mail containing the date and time of the telephone interview. You will also receive a questionnaire to complete prior to the telephone interview. You must have a record of your work searches made for the week in question, as we will verify the work search information with the employer(s). Refusal to cooperate in the review will result in a denial of unemployment insurance benefits.

Individual

Steps & Responsibilities to File an Unemployment Insurance Claim

Required Information

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

  • Social Security Number
  • Full legal name(s), SSN, dates of birth and relationship of any dependents, up to a maximum of four
  • Complete mailing address, including ZIP code (including apartment or lot number)
  • Telephone number
  • Email address (optional)
  • Most recent employer as it appears on your pay stubs or W-2 forms.
    • If you have worked for a temporary/staffing agency, you should list the name of the agency and not the name of the client you were assigned to work at
  • Your start and end dates with your most recent employer
  • Your reason for leaving your last employer
    • For purposes of unemployment; a lack of work is not considered a discharge
  • If you are not a United States citizen, your employment authorization number and expiration date
  • If you served in the military during 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

Filing for Unemployment Insurance is a Two-Step Process

Step One: File Your Initial Claim Application

You must file an initial claim application online or at your local IowaWORKS Center during the first week you wish to be paid; you will not receive payments for any weeks prior to the effective date of your claim. No exceptions. The unemployment week is Sunday through Saturday.  All claims are assigned a Sunday effective date for the week the claim is filed. If your claim is successfully submitted, a confirmation page will show with your confirmation number. Save this confirmation number for your records. You may file your initial claim on Saturday or Sunday from 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM or Monday to Friday from 6:00 AM to 6:30 PM.  

After you successfully submit the application, you will see a confirmation page that includes:

  • A printable copy of your confirmation number
  • Instructions on when to begin filing your weekly claim

Identity Verification

During the initial application process you will be asked to verify and authenticate your identity.  You will be asked a few questions that only you know the answers to.  If you answer the questions correctly our system will instantly verify your identity. If you do not answer the questions correctly; we will require that you provide us with documents that can confirm your identity.   You will be required to complete the verification process every 366 days.

Your claim will not become valid until your identity has been verified by us.  Instant ID Verification can only be done when you file your application online.   If you have not provided the documents to verify your identity within seven calendar days of filing your claim, your claim will be locked and possibly voided. If your claim is voided you must submit another claim for benefits. The effective date of the claim filed after your claim has been voided would be the Sunday of the week in which you file the second claim.  

Step Two: File Your Weekly Claim

Filing a weekly claim online is a requirement of continued eligibility for unemployment insurance.  If you do not file your weekly claim, you will not receive payment for that week.  No exceptions.  You may file your weekly claim on Sunday from 8:00 AM to 11:30 PM or Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. There is no weekly reporting available on Saturday.  

Preparing to file the Weekly Claim

You should have the following information available when filing your weekly claim:

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

Personal Identification Number

A four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) is required to file your weekly claim.

You will create this number the first time you file a weekly claim. The PIN cannot be the same 4 numbers (i.e. 1111 or 3333) or numbers in a consecutive order (i.e. 1234 or 6789). This PIN protects your claim from being accessed by anyone other than you.  It should be kept secure. You should choose a PIN that is easy to remember, since you will use this number each week to file a continued claim for benefits.

You must keep your PIN confidential and should never let anyone file your weekly claim for you. You should contact IWD to reset your PIN if it has been compromised or if your account is locked.

When to File Weekly Claim

Start filing your weekly claim the first Sunday after filing your initial claim.

Example: Your initial claim was filed on Wednesday. You would need to do your first weekly filing on Sunday.

 

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Start of UI claim week 1

Apply for unemployment the first week you wish to be paid

First day to file your weekly claim for  week 1

8:00am-11:30pm

File weekly claim for  week 1

8am-5:30 pm

File weekly claim for  week 1

8am-5:30 pm

File weekly claim for week 1

8am-5:30 pm

File weekly claim for  week 1

8am-5:30 pm

File weekly claim for  week 1

8am-5:30 pm

No weekly claim filing available

First day to file your weekly claim for

week 2

8:00am-11:30pm

File weekly claim for week 2

8am-5:30pm

File weekly claim for week 2

8am-5:30pm

File weekly claim for week 2

8am-5:30pm

File weekly claim for week 2

8am-5:30pm

File weekly claim for week 2

8am-5:30pm

No weekly claim filing available

First day to file your weekly claim for

week 3

8:00am-11:30pm

File weekly claim for week 3

8am-5:30pm

File weekly claim for week 3

8am-5:30pm

File weekly claim for week 3

8am-5:30pm

File weekly claim for week 3

8am-5:30pm

File weekly claim for week 3

8am-5:30pm

No weekly claim filing available

Confirmation of Weekly Claim Submitted 

You will receive a confirmation page (shown below) informing you that your weekly claim has been successfully submitted.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/N592-k9XfZ01jSaO9qIe7JxhoNqq95StJMaXTMw3Df07Ta171RfXzg2SZZ61djn3NYY34BfpMnlvaHpKvEAXQy0ohKHmPgcJrbbQolqtf2yLxqkIR1lTUW9taAypYloAN_nUgso7

You should check to make sure your weekly claim was successfully filed, how much you will receive, and when you will receive your payment by using the Benefit Inquiry tool.  This is available Tuesdays through Fridays from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM.  If you miss a weekly claim filing, you will be required to reactivate your claim.  You will not be paid for any weeks you did not file timely.

What to Report on the Weekly Claim?

You must report all gross earnings and gross wages on the weekly claim.  Wages are reportable when earned, not when paid. Gross earnings or gross wages are your earnings before taxes or other payroll deductions are made. For additional information, please refer to the page on reportable income.

Claim Effective Date

The benefit week runs from Sunday to Saturday. The effective date of all unemployment insurance claims is 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.

Eligibility Requirements

To meet the preliminary eligibility requirements, you must:

  • Be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Have earned wages in covered employment of at least $1,660 in one quarter and at least $830 in a different quarter (program year July 7, 2019 - July 4, 2020)
  • Have total base period wages of at least 1.25 times the wages earned in the highest base period quarter
  • Be able and available for work

To remain eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, you must:

  • Be actively seeking work (work search may be waived if certain criteria are met)
  • Be registered for work online with IowaWORKS.gov or at your nearest IowaWORKS center
  • Keep a record of all work search contacts and be ready to provide a copy if requested
  • Notify us on the weekly claim of any job offers you refused
  • Notify us if you have quit or are discharged from any job while claiming UI benefits
  • Notify us if you move or leave the area for more than three working days
  • Report all wages when they are earned, not when payment is received
  • Notify us if you receive workers’ compensation or a private pension
  • Notify us if you enroll in or start school

Reactivating a Claim

You can start and stop claiming unemployment insurance benefits as many times as necessary during the benefit year. This is called a break in reporting status. Any break in reporting requires you to refile your claim application online during the week you want to start collecting benefits again. Any employment during the break must be reported.

Don’t forget to file your weekly claim every week. If you fail to file timely each week, you will not be eligible for payment until you reactivate your claim again.

Individual

Monetary Eligibility

After completing an application for unemployment insurance, you will be mailed a monetary record on a green sheet of paper.  This is not a guarantee of benefits and does not mean that you have been approved to receive benefits; you must meet additional requirements to receive unemployment insurance benefits.  We do not send out notices of approval.  It is your responsibility to check and know the status of your claim. Check your benefit inquiry to see if and when you will receive payments. 

Monetary Record

The monetary record contains the:

  • Start date of claim
  • Number of dependents claimed
  • Work search requirements
  • Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA)
  • Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA)
  • Employers you worked for in the base period 
  • Wages earned each quarter during the base period
  • Last employer you indicated on your application

Carefully review all information on the monetary record. Contact us 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. The claim can be opened and closed as many times as necessary during the benefit year. Benefits may be paid on a claim until the maximum benefit amount is exhausted or the benefit year ends, whichever comes first. The unemployment insurance claim expires at the end of the benefit year, even if all funds have not been paid. If the maximum benefit amount is exhausted before the claim expires, you must wait until the end of the benefit year before filing a new claim.

Base Period  

This is an image showing base period calendar

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 unemployment insurance claim is filed. Qualified earnings in the base period determine your weekly benefit amount and maximum benefit amount. 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 you fail to qualify monetarily using the regular base period, it may be possible to use an Alternate Base Period (ABP). To see if you qualify and to request an ABP contact us at uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov or 1-866-239-0843.

Wage Requirements

To be eligible for benefits, you must have:

  • Been paid wages by covered employers in at least two 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 $1,660 in one quarter and at least $830 in a different quarter (program year July 7, 2019 - July 4, 2020)

Dependents

The number of dependents is used to help determine your weekly benefit amount and maximum benefit amount. Adding dependents will increase your weekly benefit amount and may increase your maximum benefit amount. A dependent is any individual who was claimed on the prior year’s income tax return. A claim may include a maximum of four dependents. Dependents can only be added within 10 days of filing your initial claim. A spouse may be considered a dependent if they earned $120 or less in wages (excluding self-employment) during the week before the claim effective date.

Dependents cannot be:

  • Yourself
  • Any  person already listed on another non-expired claim
  • A spouse who listed you on their non-expired claim 

Dependents claimed incorrectly may result in an overpayment and may be reviewed by the fraud investigations team.

Weekly Benefit Amount

The weekly benefit amount (WBA) is determined by two things: the wages earned in your highest quarter of the base period and by the number of dependents on your claim. To calculate the WBA, the highest quarter of base period wages is divided by:

  • 23 for zero dependents (maximum of $481)
  • 22 for one dependent (maximum of $500)
  • 21 for two dependents (maximum of $518)
  • 20 for three dependents (maximum of $545)
  • 19 for four dependents (maximum of $591)

Maximum Benefit Amount

The maximum benefit amount (MBA) is either 26 times the weekly benefit amount (WBA) or one-third of your total base period wages, whichever is less. If your last employer permanently closed the business location, your MBA may be increased. The business closing MBA will be either 39 times the WBA or one-half your total base period wages, whichever is less. The business closing WBA will not change.

The minimum and maximum WBAs and MBAs change each year for new claims filed after the first Sunday in July.

Second Benefit Year 

To be eligible for a second claim year, you must earn wages in covered employment of at least eight times your weekly benefit amount since the effective date of your previous unemployment insurance claim. Second benefit year claims can still be filed even if eight times the weekly benefit has not been earned. After eight times the weekly benefit amount of the previous claim year has been earned, contact us at uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov or by phone at 866-239-0843, Monday through Friday from 8:00am - 4:30pm.
 
Example: If your last unemployment claim was paying $450 per week you would have to show $3,600 ($450 x8) in earnings since you filed your last claim.

Individual

Non-Monetary Issues

Protested Claim

Any employers you have worked for in the last 18 months may be charged for benefits that are paid to you. Because of this, employers are able to protest your unemployment insurance claim seeking relief of charges. The employer must protest within ten calendar days after the notice of claim is sent. Unemployment insurance claims are automatically protested if you indicate that you were fired from or quit your most recent job.

Fact-Finding Interview

If your unemployment insurance claim is protested, we may arrange a fact-finding interview. The fact-finding interview will be conducted by phone. Both you and the employer will receive a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Fact-Finding Interview letter containing the date, time, and the phone number where you 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 unemployment insurance benefits.

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

You are still required to file weekly claims until the fact-finding process is completed. If you are found eligible for unemployment and weekly claims have not been filed, your claim will not be backdated.  You will not be eligible to receive benefits for any week for which you did not file a weekly claim.

Appeal Process

First-Level Appeal — Administrative Law Judge

Both you and the employer 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 the Unemployment Appeals Form 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:

  • Your 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:

 Toll-free in Iowa:  800-532-1483
Toll-free outside of Iowa:  800-247-5205
Des Moines local:  515-281-3747
Fax:  515-478-3582
Email: uiappealshelp@iwd.iowa.gov

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE HEARING  

Once a claim is appealed, a formal hearing will be scheduled with an ALJ. A notice for a telephone hearing requires the parties to immediately register their telephone number and confirm participation in the hearing along with contact information for any witnesses.  The notice will contain complete instructions to register a telephone number for a scheduled hearing or for using a toll-free number listed on the notice and to confirm participation in the hearing.  

Warning: If a current telephone number is not provided to the Appeals Bureau prior to the scheduled hearing, the ALJ will not contact or include you in the hearing.

If you are unable to participate in the appeal hearing as scheduled, call the Appeals Bureau immediately to request a postponement. The appeal hearing will be postponed only for good cause. The request for a postponement should be made at least three days before the hearing.

Unlike the fact-finding interview, an appeal hearing is a formal process where all parties and witnesses are sworn in and the hearing is recorded. The ALJ will take new statements concerning the issue even if a statement was already given at the fact-finding interview. Either party may submit additional evidence at the hearing, so participation is important. If a claimant or employer chooses to hire an attorney to attend the hearing, the claimant or employer will be responsible to pay the full expenses of the attorney.

The ALJ's final decision will be mailed to the parties within 14 days after the hearing. The decision will state the important facts of the case, the legal conclusions and reasons for the decision, and an order stating the result of the decision. The decision may disqualify the claimant from receiving UI benefits or may allow the claimant UI benefits that may be chargeable to the employer.

Once a decision is appealed, a formal hearing will be scheduled with an administrative law judge. Hearings are typically held by phone, however, you 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 Center where in-person hearings are held.

You are still required to file weekly claims until the Appeal Hearing process is completed. If you are found eligible for unemployment and weekly claims have not been filed, backdating claims will not occur.  You will not be eligible to receive benefits for any week for which you did not file a weekly claim.

SECOND-LEVEL APPEAL: EMPLOYMENT APPEAL BOARD

If either the employer or claimant disagrees with the ALJ’s decision, it may be appealed to the Employment Appeal Board (EAB). The EAB is part of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals located in the Lucas State Office Building.

HOW TO FILE A SECOND-LEVEL APPEAL

The appeal must be postmarked within 15 calendar days from the mailing date of the ALJ’s decision. The appeal should be sent to:

 Employment Appeal Board
Lucas State Office Building
Fourth Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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

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

It usually takes 45 to 75 days from the date the appeal is filed to receive the EAB decision. If an employer or claimant disagrees with the EAB decision, a petition may be filed for judicial review in Iowa District Court or request a rehearing before the EAB. The procedure and appeal deadlines are provided on the EAB decision.

You are still required to file weekly claims until the 2nd level appeal process is completed. If you are found eligible for unemployment and weekly claims have not been filed, back-dating claims will not occur.  You will not be eligible to receive benefits for any week for which you did not file a weekly claim.

Individual

Continued Eligibility

Work Search Requirements

You are required to make a minimum of two job contacts each week, unless this requirement is waived. The work search requirement may be waived if you are temporarily unemployed and expect to be recalled by your former employer within a reasonable period of time or if you are in school and approved for Department Approved Training (DAT). Your work search requirement is determined each time a claim is filed.

In order to meet the work search requirements, you must make two job contacts between Sunday and Saturday of the week you 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.

You must be willing to accept a reasonable wage for the job for which you are applying. You may not apply for the same position with the same employer more than once every six weeks.

You must keep a Work Search Log of all work search contacts for a period of one year after you stop claiming benefits and be ready to provide a copy if requested by IWD. Failure to comply may result in denial of benefits.

The work search record 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.

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 you have not yet received the payment. To calculate the amount to report, multiply the number of hours you worked by your hourly wage.

Example: 10 hours X $12.00/hour = $120.00 in gross earnings

You should report the full gross amount of earnings and we will calculate any deductions. Deductions and/or earnings are calculated differently depending on the type of income.  See the general guidelines on deductibility below.

Excessive Earnings

When filing your weekly claim if you report excessive earnings for four consecutive weeks, your claim will need to be reactivated before payments can resume.  $15 or more over your WBA is considered excessive earnings.

Partially Deductible from the benefit payment based on a formula  

You may earn up to 25 percent of your 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 your benefit payment.   If you earn $15 or more over your WBA, you will not receive a benefit payment for that week.

  • Wages
  • Holiday pay
  • Stand-by pay
  • Tips, gratuities, commission and incentive pay
  • Strike pay - only deductible when received for services rendered.  
  • Any compensation other than cash (i.e. room and board, cell phone)

Example: Your WBA is $400 and you 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 you earn reduces your benefit payment by one dollar (dollar-for-dollar).

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

Example: Your WBA is $400 and you receive a $370 vacation payout for the week you are claiming.

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

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 that you received or will receive.

Vacation Pay 40 hours or less

If you received less than 5 days of vacation pay, you should report the amount that you received or will receive.

Example: Your last day worked is Wednesday.  You 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: Your last day is Wednesday. You will receive 80 hours of vacation totaling $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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Employment

If you are self-employed or will receive a 1099 at the end of the year for working, you are not required to report the wages on your weekly unemployment insurance claim. 

Income from self-employment is not considered wages and is not deducted from unemployment insurance benefits. However, eligibility requirements must still be met. 

To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you must be able, available, and be actively looking for work and willing to accept suitable work. If it is determined that self-employment prevents you from accepting suitable work, you may be disqualified due to being unavailable for work. 

Work Registration Requirement

If you are required to search for work, you must register for work with us online at IowaJobs or at the nearest IowaWORKS Center. You must complete registration for work within ten days of filing your initial claim for unemployment insurance. Failure to register for work could result in denial of benefits.

Ability to Work and Availability for Work

You must be able and available for work while claiming benefits. It is important to notify us of any condition or situation which would prevent you 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

You should contact us at 1-866-239-0843 to report any changes that could affect your benefits.

Suitable Work/Work Refusals

You are required to search for and accept suitable work, unless this requirement is waived. 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 highest quarter of the base period is divided by 13 (the number of weeks in a quarter) to calculate the average weekly wage (AWW).

Example: Your earnings in the high quarter are $5,200. To calculate 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

EXAMPLE: If you are 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. You are not required to accept any job offers that are below the federal or state minimum wage.

When you file a weekly claim, you must report if you refused any job offers or referrals during that week.

Pensions and Retirement Payouts

When you file a weekly claim, you must report any pension payment, 401K payout or other similar periodic or lump sum payments. You will then be contacted for the following information:

  • Name of contributing employer(s)
  • Percent employer contributed
  • Date you received or began receiving the payout
  • Gross amount of payout

Once the above information is received, we will determine if the payment is deductible from unemployment insurance benefits.

Individual

Payments

IWD Debit Card

When you file an unemployment insurance claim and have selected to receive payment by an Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) Debit Card,  a card will be mailed to you.  The card will not expire for three years, so please do not destroy the card. If you have received a card in the last three years, the card is still valid and payments will be issued to that card.  The IWD Debit Card provides the quickest form of payment for unemployment benefits.

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 Bank of America’s website, you can:

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

You can also download the Bank of America mobile app to manage your debit card.

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

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  • Only IWD can update your 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.

You must contact Bank of America to order a replacement card or to report a lost or stolen card.  

Direct Deposit

You may choose to have your UI benefit payment(s) deposited directly into a checking or savings account.  The benefit payment is deposited four to five business days after the weekly claim is filed, if all eligibility requirements are met.  Holidays may delay the payment.

In order to receive payment(s) into your checking or savings account, it is your responsibility to update your account information on IWD’s website www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov. We will not update or make changes to your account information.  Before submitting your direct deposit information it is your responsibility to verify:

  • The bank routing number with your financial institution
  • The account number is correct and is associated with the account you want the funds deposited.  

It is your responsibility to verify the benefit payment was deposited into the correct account and resolve any direct deposit errors directly with your financial institution.

We are not responsible for incorrectly reported routing and/or account information. Funds that are deposited into an incorrect account may not only delay your payments, but also may not be recovered or returned to us or you.    

In an effort to safeguard sensitive information, we will have limited access to updating account information. We will not accept any paper forms to change account information.  If you do not wish to update your account information online, the IWD Debit Card will be the default payment method.

Other Deductions

Child Support Deduction

The Child Support Recovery Unit may withhold up to 50 percent of your unemployment insurance benefit payment for a child support obligation. You will be mailed a notification with the amount of the deduction and when that deduction will start. The amount withheld is included on your IRS Form 1099-G, since it was paid to another agency on your behalf. Requests to modify or stop the deductions must be made to the Child Support Recovery Unit or through the court system.

Overpayment

You are responsible for repaying any benefits that you were not eligible to receive. If you have a non-fraud overpayment, your future benefit payments will be used to offset the amount you owe to us.  We will intercept state and federal tax returns, casino and lottery winnings, etc... regardless of payment plan or payment history.

As of July 1, 2018, if you have a fraud overpayment balance, including penalty, interest and lien fees, you are not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits until that balance is paid in full. You will not be paid for any weeks that you previously filed. Iowa unemployment insurance benefit payments cannot be used to offset a fraud overpayment balance.

Overpayments caused by fraud include a 15 percent penalty. All fraudulent overpayments accrue interest of 1/30th of 1 percent per day until the debt is paid in full.

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

Unemployment Insurance Taxes

Unemployment insurance benefits are taxable. Unemployment insurance 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 your state and federal income tax returns, including the amount of benefits paid during the tax year and the amount of state and federal taxes withheld.

You have the option to withhold 10 percent of your benefit payment for federal taxes and 5 percent for Iowa taxes. You will elect tax withholdings when you apply for unemployment insurance. To make changes in tax withholdings, you must submit the Tax Withholding Agreement Form 60-0351.

Note: If you have changed your address since you last claimed benefits, you need to update your mailing address with Iowa Workforce Development.

Individual

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.

We use profiling to select individuals who are required to look for work to participate in Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA). We look 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 that you are registered for work and to provide customized reemployment services. If selected, participation is mandatory and is a condition of eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. If you do not participate, it could result in a denial of benefits.

You will receive a letter informing you where to report and what documents to bring. You must contact your RESEA Advisor prior to your scheduled appointment if you are unable to attend.  Appointments may be rescheduled for justifiable cause.

This program is an overall eligibility assessment review of your unemployment insurance claim. You meet one-on-one with a RESEA Advisor to:

  • Discuss benefits and requirements of the RESEA program including how non-participation can affect your unemployment insurance benefits
  • Assess your unemployment insurance eligibility and address any possible issues
  • Review your work searches and discuss your work search process
  •  
  • Provide you with Labor Market Information (LMI)
  • Briefly review your resume and provide feedback                           
  • Review your registration in IWorks to ensure that it is properly completed
  • Schedule you for an IowaWORKS Center Orientation workshop
  • Schedule you for one additional workshop of your choice to be completed within 30 calendar days of RESEA assessment
  • Refer you 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

TRAINING EXTENSION BENEFITS

If you are attending school or a training course, you may apply for Training Extension Benefits (TEB) to receive an additional 26 weeks of benefits. TEB is available if you:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance benefits
  • 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 unemployment benefits are exhausted. The TEB application and lists of high demand and declining occupations are available at www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov.

You must submit an application for TEB within 30 days of the last week you receive benefits.

DEPARTMENT APPROVED TRAINING

If you are attending school or a training course, you may request to waive the work search requirement for each semester of school you attend. You should submit an application for Department Approved Training (DAT) to IWD with the following information:

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

You will receive a decision in the mail approving or denying your request for DAT. The decision will include appeal rights. If you are approved for DAT, even though the work search requirement is waived, you must continue to be able and available to attend school. You must also file a weekly claim to receive payment while you are in school. If training stops for any reason, you must notify IWD and begin making work search contacts immediately. To be eligible for a continuing DAT each semester, you will need to submit a new application for DAT including your schedule and prior semester’s grades so we can determine your progress.

VOLUNTARY SHARED WORK PROGRAM

The Voluntary Shared Work (VSW) program offers an alternative to layoffs of five or more workers and is an effective tool for Iowa businesses experiencing a decline in regular business activity. Under VSW, work reductions are shared by reducing employees’ work hours and Unemployment Insurance (UI) partially replaces lost earnings. By avoiding layoffs, employees stay connected to their jobs and employers maintain their skilled workforce for when business improves.

Voluntary Shared Work Program

MILITARY WAGES

If you have served on active military duty during the base period, you can file an unemployment insurance claim in any state as long as you are physically present in that state at the time of filing. To add military wages to a claim, you must have served on active duty in the Armed Forces or served at least 180 consecutive days of active service in a US Military Reserve Force and meet all other eligibility requirements. You must provide a copy of your DD–214 (member copy 4) to determine if military wages can be used on the unemployment insurance claim.

The US Military service, not us, will determine if the earnings can be used on a claim. If the wages can be used, you will receive a new monetary record in the mail. If your request to add wages is denied, you 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 an unemployment insurance claim is filed.  If you have worked for the federal government during the base period, you must report this employment when filing an unemployment insurance claim. We will send a request to the federal employer to determine if the wages can be assigned to Iowa. Once wages are assigned, you will receive a new monetary record in the mail.

COMBINED WAGES CLAIM

If you have worked in Iowa and other states during the base period, you may request to have your out-of-state wages added to your Iowa unemployment insurance claim. Out-of-state wages will only be combined with the Iowa wages if the additional earnings will increase the WBA or MBA. You have the option to file in any state where an employer reported earnings for you during the base period.

INTERSTATE CLAIM

If you move out of Iowa, you must immediately notify us of your address change. Mail from Iowa Workforce Development may not be forwarded by the U.S. Postal Service. If you are required to do work searches, you must contact the workforce agency in the state where you reside to register for work. You should still file your weekly claim in Iowa. Benefits will continue to be paid by Iowa until you begin working, exhaust benefits, or your benefit year expires.

TRADE ACT

Trade Readjustment Allowance and Trade Adjustment Assistance are programs available if you are unemployed or underemployed due to increased foreign imports. Affected employers must be approved by the US Department of Labor. For more information contact us at a local IowaWORKS office or at 866-239-0843.

RECORD REQUESTS

In keeping with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Iowa Open Records Act, Iowa Workforce Development is committed to providing assistance to those seeking access to open records created by or in the legal custody of our agency.  Any person may submit their request to examine and copy an open record created by or in the custody of the Iowa Workforce Development through this records requests portal.  If you still have additional questions please contact us at uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov or by phone at 866-239-0843, Monday through Friday from 8:00am - 4:30pm.

The department shall hold confidential the information obtained from an employing unit or individual in the course of administering this chapter and the initial determination made by a representative of the department under section 96.6, subsection 2, as to the benefit rights of an individual. The department shall not disclose or open this information for public inspection in a manner that reveals the identity of the employing unit or the individual, except as provided in subparagraph (3) or paragraph “c”. Iowa Code § 96.11(6) (b) (1); 20 CFR 603. To obtain confidential information a requesting party must show entitlement to such information under Iowa Code § 96.11(6).  All fact-finding records, including audio recordings, are confidential and can only be released to the claimant and employer.

Individual

Glossary

1099-G

The tax form you receive indicating total UI benefits received and taxes withheld during a calendar year.

ABLE AND AVAILABLE

If you claim unemployment insurance benefits, you must be ready, willing and able to work. You must be prepared to start employment immediately and be physically and mentally capable of working in order to receive UI benefits.

ADDITIONAL UI CLAIM

An application to reactivate an existing unemployment insurance claim following a period of employment.    

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE (ALJ)

The IWD official who conducts unemployment insurance 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 unemployment insurance benefit payments you receive 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 unemployment insurance benefits is filed. It is during this period the individual may receive up to 26 full weeks of benefits.

BREAK IN REPORTING STATUS

You 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 you to file another initial claim application to reactivate your claim.

CALENDAR QUARTER

The three-month period 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 your initial claim for benefits, you must certify your 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 all base period wages earned in other states 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 an unemployment insurance claim.

COVERED EMPLOYMENT

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

COVERED WAGES

Wages paid to an employee by an employer who is required to pay unemployment insurance taxes.

DEPARTMENT APPROVED TRAINING

An individual attending school or a training course can submit a written application requesting the work search requirement be waived.  

DEPENDENTS

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

DETERMINATION

A decision on a request for insured status, an unemployment insurance claim for benefits, or any unemployment insurance issue.

DETERMINATION DATE

The date a determination is made.

DIRECT DEPOSIT

Payment option that allows your UI benefit payments  to be deposited directly into a checking or savings account.  

DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE (DUA)

If you become unemployed as a result of a declared disaster and lack the necessary earnings to qualify for an unemployment insurance claim, you may be eligible to receive benefits based on non-covered wages.

EFFECTIVE DATE (Benefits)

The date your benefit year begins. Unemployment insurance claims always begin on the Sunday of the week in which the UI claim is actually filed.

EMPLOYMENT APPEAL BOARD

On appeal, the Employment Appeal Board (EAB) reviews UI benefit decisions made by an IWD ALJ. Members of the EAB are 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. The EAB is located in the Department of Inspections and Appeals.

EXCESSIVE EARNINGS

An amount equal to or greater than the weekly benefit amount plus $15.

FACT-FINDER

An Iowa Unemployment Insurance Division employee who makes determinations of eligibility on an unemployment insurance claim.

FACT-FINDING INTERVIEW

An informal interview, usually held over the phone, in which both you and the employer present information regarding the initial claim.

FEDERAL CLAIM

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

FRAUD

The willful misrepresentation or nondisclosure of a material fact for the purpose of obtaining benefits to which you are not entitled.

IDENTITY VERIFICATION

Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) uses data provided by LexisNexis® Risk Solutions to help verify and validate your identity.

INITIAL UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIM

An application by a worker for a determination of eligibility for unemployment insurance and computation of weekly and maximum benefit amounts.

LAG QUARTER

The calendar quarter immediately before the quarter in which the effective date falls.

MAXIMUM BENEFIT AMOUNT (MBA)

The total amount of unemployment insurance benefits available to you during a benefit year.

MILITARY CLAIM

A claim in which there are military wages earned during the base period. You must have served on active duty in the Armed Forces or served at least 180 consecutive days of active service in a US Military Reserve Force. You must provide the agency with your DD214 (member copy 4) to determine your eligibility.

MONETARY ELIGIBILITY

Eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits based on the gross insured wages paid to you during the base period. The maximum and minimum benefit amounts are determined by law and are subject to change each year.

OVERPAYMENT

Unemployment insurance benefits you received but were not entitled to because of disqualification, earnings or for other reasons.

PROTEST

A notice to us about a potentially disqualifying eligibility issue for unemployment insurance benefits. Protests on a claim may be initiated by the employer, the individual claiming benefits, or by us.

REACTIVATION

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

REFUSAL

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

REGISTER FOR WORK

If you are required to complete work searches, you are also required to register for work with IowaJobs. Failure to register for work can result in denial of benefits.

REPORTING EARNINGS

Wages that must be reported the week that they are earned.  

REQUALIFICATION

A process by which you may establish eligibility for unemployment insurance through reemployment following a determination of ineligibility and a period of disqualification.

SECOND BENEFIT YEAR

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

SELF-EMPLOYMENT

Income from self-employment is not considered wages and is not deducted from unemployment insurance benefits.

SEVERANCE

When an employer pays you for dismissal, termination, or separation, including  wages in lieu of notice. This is 100 percent deductible.

TRAINING EXTENSION BENEFITS

A benefit program for full time students that may allow you to receive up to an additional 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits if you qualify.  

TRADE ACT

Programs available if you 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 unemployment insurance 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 you for a payable week of unemployment.

WEEKLY CLAIM

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

Individual

2019 Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook

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Table of Contents

Individual