Connecticut Unemployment – Know your Rights

  Last Verified: January 2017  

The national unemployment rate has been falling. For 2016, it’s nearing the pre-financial market levels of 5.4%. In Connecticut, it remains a point higher than the national average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate is even higher in urban areas like Hartford. According to a report in the Stamford Advocate, jobs are leaving the state. Those former employees, left jobless through no fault of their own, are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

Unemployment benefits are a right afforded many working Americans. Should misfortune befall you, it is important to know how to apply for the benefits, mistakes to avoid and what to do if the state of Connecticut’s Department of Labor denies your application.seal_of_connecticut-svg

Eligibility for Unemployment in CT

Eligibility for unemployment benefits can be a complex computation for the Department of Labor. However, for the employees, it’s fairly simple. If you were laid off from your job, your position phased out or were dismissed for lack of work, you may be eligible if you meet certain conditions. You have to be available to work and you must actively seek work (actually applying for work, not just checking the want ads) while you are unemployed.

The Department observes how much you have earned over time to help determine eligibility. This is the “minimum earnings requirement.” You have to earn at least 40 times the weekly benefit amount in your base period (one year) before being eligible to collect.

This base period will also determine how much you will earn, in part. The unemployment compensation examiner will make a calculation based on the wages you earned during your base period and whether you have any dependents. The examiner will use the following criteria to determine your base period.

  • If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: January, February, or March

The Base Period will be the first nine months (Jan-Sept) of last year and the last three months (Oct-Dec) of the year before last;

  • If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: April, May, or June

The Base Period will be all twelve months (Jan-Dec) of last year;

  • If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: July, August, or September

The Base Period will be the first three months of the current year (Jan-Mar) and the last nine months (Apr-Dec) of the last year;

  • If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: October, November, or December

The Base Period will be the first six months (Jan-June) of the current year and last six months of the last year.

Some occupations are not covered by unemployment insurance. Railroad employees, for example, have their own unemployment insurance system. Your employer should have notified you at the time you were hired whether you were covered by the government’s unemployment insurance.

Amount and Duration of Unemployment Benefits in CT

You will receive benefits weekly if the Department approves your initial claim. Then, you must call the Department each week and file to receive benefits for as long as you remain eligible. The weekly filing is also called “filing a claim.” That can be confusing for some who think they have to go through the entire process each week. You simply call the Department or go online and indicate you are making a weekly claim and that you are actively looking for work.

If you miss filing your weekly claim, you don’t have to miss out on a week of benefit payments. You may either call the Department of Labor’s unemployment division or fill out a form online at the web site to file for the week you missed.

As noted in the previous section on eligibility, the Department determines the money you’ll receive by the wages you earned during your base period. The Department will also consider whether you have dependents, people like family members who rely on your income. The maximum amount you can earn per week is capped at $598 as of 2015.

The maximum number of weeks you can receive benefits is 26. There have been special circumstances in which the federal government has extended that period. When unemployment rises, Congress may at to allow those eligible for benefits to collect them beyond the 26-week maximum. Each state may decide when to offer the extension and when to withdraw it. During the recent recession in 2008, Congress authorized emergency unemployment compensation to add an additional 13 weeks of benefits. The Congress did not renew the plan after the economy improved.

Part-time Work and Benefits

Connecticut allows you to work part-time while collecting unemployment; however, that will affect how much money you collect. If you work, the state will deduct an amount equal to 2/3 of your pay for that part-time job before taxes (gross income) rounded to the nearest dollar. You still have to be actively seeking full-time employment and be able and available to work. If you refuse to take additional hours above part-time, you may lose your benefits.

If you receive a pension or retirement income from the employer who discharged you, your benefits will be reduced by the amount of money your former employer contributed to your pension. You must do everything else you normally do, like search for full-time employment, to receive benefits.

How to File for Unemployment Benefits in CT

You can file for unemployment benefits in person, by phone or online. Upon your separation from work, your employer is required to provide you with an information packet that includes instructions on how to file for unemployment benefits. It is not necessary to use this packet.

The Connecticut Department of Labor has set up a calling system devised to speed up applications. However, only certain people may call on a certain date or time. If the last digit of your Social Security number is 0-2, call on Monday. If your last digit is 0-5, call on Tuesday. Everyone may call on Wednesday through Friday. The call center only accepts initial unemployment benefit claims from 8AM to 4PM. However, the call center is open 24 hours a day to address other questions you may have.

The department wants you to call the job center in your local calling area.

CALLING AREA
 

# TO CALL TO FILE CLAIM

 

 

 

CALLING AREA

 

# TO CALL TO FILE CLAIM

 

Ansonia

 

(203) 230-4939

 

 

 

Meriden

 

(860) 344-2993

 

Bridgeport *

 

(203) 579-6291

 

 

 

Middletown

 

(860) 344-2993

 

Bristol

 

(860) 566-5790

 

 

 

New Britain

 

(860) 566-5790

 

Danbury

 

(203) 797-4150

 

 

 

New London

 

(860) 443-2041

 

Danielson *

 

(860) 423-2521

 

 

 

Norwich

 

(860) 443-2041

 

Enfield *

 

(860) 566-5790

 

 

 

Stamford

 

(203) 348-2696

 

Hamden

 

(203) 230-4939

 

 

 

Torrington *

 

(860) 482-5581

 

Hartford

 

(860) 566-5790

 

 

 

Waterbury

 

(203) 596-4140

 

Manchester

 

(860) 566-5790

 

 

 

Willimantic

 

(860) 423-2521

There is a toll-free number available to residents of the Kent, North Thompson, Salisbury, Sharon, Stafford Springs, Westport, or Wilton exchanges. The number is only for residents of this area. You may not file a claim or receive other information through the toll-free number. The number is 1-800-354-3305.

Documents needed to file a claim

You need to be able to prove citizenship, your right to work in the United States. To that end, you will need a social security card, or, if you are not a naturalized citizen, proof of your right to work in the US. If you have been separated from the military, you will need the appropriate separation form. If you were a federal employee, you will need the separation form specific to federal employees and a copy of your most recent pay stub.

You may go forward without these documents when filing for unemployment benefits. However, not having proof of citizenship or the required military or federal documents, there may be a delay in your application going forward.

Reasons for Denial of Benefits

If your employer fired you with good cause, you will not be eligible. If you quit your job, you may not be eligible. If you worked in a job where you knew it would only last a short period, you may not be eligible. If you are sick, mentally or physically, you will not be eligible for unemployment because you are not able or available for work. In that case, you would apply for disability benefits if eligible. You may not receive unemployment compensation and disability payments simultaneously.

There may be special circumstances regarding your separation from work. It may not be clear to you that you are eligible for unemployment just by looking at your situation. However, you should apply for benefits immediately upon your separation from work no matter the circumstances.

In Connecticut, some employers are required to provide terminated employees with a “pink slip” and an information packet on unemployment benefits. Don’t wait until you receive this information. Visit the Connecticut Department of Labor’s web site and utilize those tools available, including applying online.

Am I eligible if I was fired?

Generally, you will not be eligible for benefits if you were fired. However, in certain circumstances, you may be able to prove that your employer didn’t have a good reason to let you go. If you believe your discharged you without good cause, you need to state this in your application. It is likely that your employer will not agree, and claim that they dismissed you for cause. If you present sufficient evidence in your initial claim, you may receive benefits. However, this is unlikely if you were fired.

Am I eligible if I quit my job?

If you leave work voluntarily, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits. There are circumstances that may show you had no choice but to quit. You may have been forced from your job for no good reason, threatened or found that your employer was doing something illegal or unethical. In those cases, it may be possible to receive unemployment benefits, but you will have to prove that these circumstances occurred.

What happens if my application was denied?

If the Department of Labor denies your initial claim for unemployment benefits, you may appeal the decision to the Appeals Division of the Department. You may also appeal the Department’s decision on the amount you are to receive. You have 21 calendar days after the Department mails you the decision in which to file the appeal. Be sure to note that. It is often where people make a mistake in their appeal. The clock starts running from the date the Department mails the decision, not the day you get it in the mail or the date your roommate handed it to you. If you file after 21 days, the Appeals Division will deny the appeal unless you can show good cause why you were late.

If you are denied benefits, please visit our section on appealing benefits decision in Connecticut.

Sources

https://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/progsupt/unemplt/new-faqui.htm

http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/progsupt/unemplt/claimant-guide/uc-288.pdf

https://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/communic/2015-9/9182015MaximumUIrate.pdf

6 comments

  • Janine

    My husband (voluntarily) relocated from his CT job to the same company in MA, almost 3 hours away and so we are moving. Am I eligible to collect since I have to quit my job? I have been with my (small business) company for 35 years.

  • Lisa

    Hi,

    I have a few questions for CT residents. My daughter is 23 and unemployed living at home. I am a single mom and wanted to let her stay with my parents for the summer or until a job opens up but they live out of he country. Can she still collect unemployment if she is temporarily out of the state as long as she is still job searching and applying for jobs?

    • She can live anywhere in the US and collect CT benefits. Nothing changes but her address. She needs to notify CT of that change. She continues to file weekly certifications with CT as she has up to this point.

  • Rachel

    Hi! This information was very helpful. I do however have a couple of questions:

    I work as support staff for children with special needs for a private service provider. The client I was working with did not continue services past June of 2016. I was neither fired nor quit as there are typically no services provided in the summer. I took a seasonal job at a local camp to get me through the summer and at the completion of that job filed for unemployment against my previous employer (special needs support). I was granted unemployment but now my employer is appealing that decision based upon the fact the I had worked for the summer camp after my employment with them. They are also stating that they made me a bona fide offer to continue on with them. However, this offer included a reduction in rate which they claimed was more in line with industry standards. Am I going to lose this appeal?

    • It appears the job offer occurred before the summer job. If that is the case, technically the job offer remains unsuitable because of when it occurred.

      That said, MA isn’t always the most favorable in finding for the claimant. The summer job taken after discharge and before applying for benefits may have established, rightly or wrongly in MA’s eyes, a new “suitability” standard as to pay – which may muddy the waters on the earlier job refusal.

      That said, should MA refuse to consider the timeline and find for the employer on the job refusal/quit, MA requires you work eight weeks and earn 8x your WBA subsequent to that event to purge the “quit” or “job refusal.” If you did that with W-2 wages earned from your summer camp work, then your benefits should continue even with an unfavorable decision.

      Fyi and going forward should you face another similar situation, the time to have applied for benefits and adjudicate the job refusal was immediately upon termination from the full-time job. Employer offering you the same job at lower pay – regardless of what is prevailing – immediately after terminating you from a higher paying job is a material change to the employment contract and not “suitable” as to pay. The claim could have been established and the job refusal adjudicated in your favor at that time. You could have taken the summer camp job, and then reopened the claim later.

      You may want to consult an unemployment attorney to assure MA keeps this timeline straight, especially if you didn’t earn enough or work long enough at the summer camp to purge an unfavorable decision.

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