Missouri Unemployment – Know Your Rights

  Last Verified: March 2017  

Missouri workers should follow the ongoing battle in the state’s legislature over the unemployment benefits trust fund. In 2017, the state’s Republican legislators have proposed cutting the maximum amount of weeks a worker may receive benefits from 20 to 13 if the unemployment rate is below 6%. The unemployment rate in the state hasn’t been at that level since 2014.

With the maximum benefit weeks ranking at among the lowest in the nation, it is important for laid off workers to be able to maximize the benefits they do receive. This means knowing the proper procedure, rules of applying for unemployment benefits in Missouri and learning what to do if the state denies a claim.

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits in MO

To be eligible to receive benefits, you must have worked for an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law, and earned enough wages in that period to qualify. Even if you meet the financial qualifications, you must meet other requirements.Get unemployment benefits in Missouri

  • You must have lost your job through no fault of your own.
  • You must be a US citizen or have proof you are authorized to work in the US
  • You must be able and available to work

The state will require that you remain eligible throughout the period in which you receive benefits. You must make a good faith effort to find work and remain available to accept work.

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Lost a Job Through No Fault of Your Own

This means that your actions or decisions cannot cause your separation from work. If you were laid off or your store closed, you may be eligible. The standard of eligibility under this issue is whether you quit for a good cause or were discharged for misconduct. A “good cause” for quitting will be circumstances that left you with no other choice but to quit. “Misconduct” is any action deemed to show a disregard for your employer’s interests. Some actions may get you fired, but may not rise to the level of misconduct.

Able and Available

You must be mentally and physically able to work when you file your claim. You must be available to accept a suitable job offer. A suitable job is one that you’re trained to do or capable of doing, and the pay should be similar to that which you’ve received in the past. The longer you go without work, the less important it becomes that the job you accept be “suitable.”

Legal Authorization

You must be a citizen to receive benefits or be authorized to work in the US.

Financial Requirements and the Base Period

The Department of Labor will observer your wages over a 12-month period called the “base period.” The base period will be the first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing a claim.

unemployment base period

This chart shows the base period.

You must have earned at least $2,250—at least $1,500 during one of the calendar quarters, and at least $750 during the remainder of the year—from an insured employer during your base period. Your total base period wages must be at least 1.5 times the wages from your highest earning quarter. Alternatively, you can make at least $19,500 during two of the four base period quarters.

Calculating Your Benefit Amount

The state uses your base period wages to determine the amount you receive per week, the weekly benefit amount (WBA). They take 4% of the average of the two highest earning quarters in your base period to determine the WBA.

The maximum anyone can receive is $320 per week. Currently, the maximum amount of weeks you can get benefits in a year is 20 weeks.

The Department of Labor provides a widget for you to estimate your WBA at the DOL website.


The DOL will pay benefits via direct deposit or issue funds to a debit card. If you choose the debit card option when you file your claim, you will receive a card. This does not mean you will be approved for benefits.

Extended Benefits

When unemployment is high, the federal government may authorize an extension on the amount of weeks in which you may receive benefits (Emergency Unemployment Compensation). The state may also extend the time limit through the Extended Benefits program. Currently in Missouri, no extended benefits are available.

How to Apply for Benefits in MO

You may apply at the DOL website, Uinteract. You may also contact a Regional Claims Center to file, or get assistance with filing your claim.

It’s available 24 hours a day, except between 11:30pm Saturday and 12:31am Sunday, Central Time. Filing via telephone is also available. It’s open from 8am to 5pm Central Time, Monday-Friday, except holidays. Depending on your location, the number may be different. The locations are:

  • Jefferson City RCC (573)751-9040
  • Kansas City RCC (816)889-3101
  • Springfield RCC (417)895-6851
  • St. Louis RCC (314)340-4950
  • All others please call (800)320-2519

Here is a list of information you must have available in order to file your claim:

  • Social Security Number
  • Personal Identification Number if you have filed a claim in the past
  • Complete mailing address
  • County you live in
  • Last employers name, mailing address, and zip code
  • Number of days and gross amount of any vacation or holiday pay you received from your last employer
  • Earnings received if you worked during the week you file your claim

Former military or federal employees must have the appropriate separation paperwork available. Union members need to provide their hall number. Non-US citizens must provide an alien registration card. If you plan to receive benefits via direct deposit, you will need your bank account information including the routing number.

Maintaining Eligibility and Weekly Certification

The DOL requires that benefit recipients maintain their eligibility status while receiving benefits. To monitor this, the DOL asks you to file a claim each week (sometimes called “weekly certification” or “requesting a weekly payment”).

You will file the request by using the Uinteract system or by calling a claims center. Whichever method you choose, you will have to answer questions to verify your continued eligibility. The DOL is concerned whether:

  • You remain able and available
  • You started or quit a job
  • You are looking for work
  • You refused an offer of suitable employment
  • You earned any wages or had any income during the week

If you did have earnings, you must report them when you file for the week you earned those wages, not the week you received payment.

Part-time Work and Benefit Payments

You may work part-time and continue to receive benefits. However, the amount you earn will affect your WBA. The state will deduct $20 from your weekly wages or 20% of your WBA from your WBA. You will keep your wages; the deduction only affects your WBA.

The state provides a partial benefit estimator widget on their website.

Other deductions

The state will reduce payments if you receive vacation or holiday pay, or if you receive pension payments from a base period employer.

Severance or termination pay will not affect your WBA, though it may affect your maximum payments. Call the claim center for more information.

If you owe child support payments, the state can garnish up to half your WBA to make up for the missing payments.

Work Search Requirement

Looking for work is an important part of maintaining eligibility. The Department of Employment Security (DES) will determine the extent of the job searches it deems necessary for you to remain eligible, and will notify you when you are notified you are awarded benefits.

You should keep a detailed record of your job searches, including contacts, applications and the date you made them. The DOL offers a job contact form on their website for you to use in keeping records. The DOL may request to see your contacts at any time.

The DOL notes that failure to accept job offers from former employers, through the DES or other state organizations could result in a loss of benefits. It isn’t clear whether you could refuse other kinds of offers.

Reasons for Denial of Benefits

The state will deny benefits if you do not have sufficient base period wages to qualify. If you do meet the wage earning requirement, the DOL may still deny benefits for various reasons.

Separation Issues

If your actions or decisions caused your separation from work, the state will deny benefits. If you quit without a good cause connected to work, you will not qualify. If you are dismissed because of misconduct, the DOL will deny your claim.

Quit but Still Eligible

A “good cause” to quit is one that shows something your employer did or failed to do left you with no other possible course of action but to quit. If your employer failed to pay you for an unreasonable period, that may be a good cause to quit. If your  employer forced you to work in unsafe conditions, you may be eligible to receive benefits in spite of quitting work.

You will have to show that you made a reasonable, good faith effort to keep your job. Did you speak with your supervisor or Human Resources officer about the situation? Did you try repeatedly to remedy the situation before quitting?

Sometimes you may quit for reasons unconnected to work, like to attend school full-time. You may not receive benefits if you quit for reasons unconnected to work. However, “quits” that are unconnected to work may allow you to receive benefits. For example, if you had to move because of a natural disaster or because you are fleeing a domestic violence situation, you may still be eligible.

Fired But Still Eligible

Misconduct is defined as behavior that shows a disregard for your employer’s interests. For example, coming to work late frequently in spite of warnings from your boss will show the claims examiner that you disregarded your employer’s authority and interests. However, if you were late to work because of a serious illness and then your boss fired you soon after, your conduct may not rise to the level of misconduct in that case.

The decision whether to deny benefits based on misconduct is fact-dependent in some cases. You will have to show, for example, that the action that got you fired was a simple mistake in judgement or a situation beyond your control. Your boss may be able to fire you for many reasons; however, those reasons may not be misconduct as defined by unemployment law.

Other Issues

The DOL may deny benefits if:

  • You fail to look for work or refuse a job offer
  • Are not available to work
  • Fail to report income properly

Barring an appeal on these issues, you will have to open a new claim if the state denies benefits. The state will restrict you from filing a claim for a period of time.

What Happens When Benefits are Denied in MO

You may appeal any determination by the DOL that goes against you. You will receive a Notice of the Deputy’s Determination if the state denies your claim. This Notice will include instructions on how to file your appeal. You will have a limited time period in which to file your appeal, so file as soon as possible.

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


The Missouri Department of Labor is your main source for the current information on unemployment benefits.

Find work or information about meeting the work search requirement at a Job Center

Watch videos about unemployment benefits on the DOL’s Youtube channel

View the DOL’s unemployment FAQ page

Follow the local media to monitor any potential changes in MO’s unemployment law

Use Email to contact the DOL with questions:

Claimants Email:


  • BRR

    I had to quit my job due to my husbands job relocation. I am being denied unemployment. I could not stay behind in another state and maintain another household. Is that not grounds to receive? Also, I am actively looking in my new state. I don’t understand, I thought that is why we paid in because in situation like this we would get a little assistance.

  • Dwayne moore

    I received benefits in kansas and they ran out in 3 months. I live in Missouri. Can I file for benefits in missouri?

  • Nicole M Townsend

    My name is Nicole. I was wondering…..in the state of MO I a substitute can receive unemployment. I work for Kelly Services not the school district. They will not have work for me until the middle of August.

    • Apply for benefits, but you also need to keep asking Kelly for other work besides the school district and take other suitable work, if offered, until school resumes. Resume contact w/Kelly immediately and keep good records of those contacts. Otherwise Kelly will tell MO you quit, or worse yet, yours is work seasonally connected to school and MO will deny if Kelly states there is reasonable assurance you will be reemployed at the school in the fall.

  • Alem Lamar

    My parents are extremely elderly and my dad has dementia. Is getting harder and harder to take care of him and my mom is not well herself. I have been helping out a lot, even moved back. I’ve had FMLA for my father for the past two years, but now that his condition is getting worse, I’m not sure I can keep my full time job. Would I be eligible for benefits?

    • You might be eligible for an unemployment claim if you quit for compelling family reasons – however, you need to be available to search for and accept work. Benefits are not paid to people who are unable to work. In other words, you need to make arrangements for the care of your parents while you are working.

  • Margie Siems

    The Barber School I have been director for 10 years is closing the 31st of March. I have never collected unemployment but I need an income and I do not know what to do. I live in Maryville, Illinois so is it possible for me to collect from Illinois or do I collect from Missouri?

    This is all of a sudden with just a month’s notice. Please let me know which state I should sign up for unemployment.
    Thank you in advance for all your help. I am 68 years old and very upset over these happenings.

  • Tonya

    I was involved in a motor vehicle accident and have spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease and have chronic pain I am unable to do my job without severe pain I’m currently under doctors care . I can work just not that job because I can’t carry the backpack blower without hurting plus I’m taking muscle relaxers and prescription pain pills. Again I can work but that is too much physical labor can I get unemployment benefits?

    • Ask your employer, in writing, for different work to accommodate your physical limitations. Provide medical evidence of your issue. If they are not able to accommodate you, quit for medical reasons. You will need provide MO evidence of your medical issues and your ability to work, just not at the job you had.

  • MK

    I worked for my most recent employer from July 2016 to January 2017, when I was let go. The job I had prior to that one I resigned for the new opportunity. Both companies were used in my ‘base period.’ I received a denial letter stating I wasn’t able to receive benefits bc I quit my job – I’m confused why the denial was based on the second company and not my most recent? Did I miss something when reading about eligibility requirements, or something? I’m so confused why quitting a prior job matters when I didn’t quit the most recent?

    • Missouri has what is called “the 18-month rule” which states you cannot receive benefits if you have quit a job within 18 months of this most recent layoff/discharge.

      You can get this denial overturned on appeal if you can prove the new job was substantially better than the one you quit. The language for MO, per USDOL, is “only when the pay is more remunerative.”

      File a request for an appeal. State “I disagree with the decision. I request an appeal hearing.” In this case you can, if you wish, submit evidence of the materially better terms and conditions of this new job when you send in the appeal request. MO may just remand this back for a redetermination to avoid an appeal hearing.

  • Confused guy

    My second week (week after the waiting week) shows “payment” and shows a process date of today. I filed my weekly claim this past sunday. I have direct deposit setup. Any idea when this will deposit? Is there a wait? Is the first one mailed?

    • Normal processing time from claim application to approval is at minimum three weeks. If all goes well, expect payment from Missouri no earlier than 3-4 weeks from date of application. Furthermore, MO has an unpaid waiting week. Deduct that waiting week from the number of weeks claimed to determine what you might be paid when MO finally approves.

  • Ive been waiting for almost 8 weeks now for payment. I filed my claim and faxed in all paper work required. I havent received anything in the mail stating denial of my claim. Im just wondering what the hold up is and how much longer i have to wait to even get a response. Someone please help me out here…. Thanx

    • Eight weeks is four weeks too long to be waiting for a decision and/or your money. An excellent method to get your state off the mark is to immediately email your state representative who will contact you and the state. You WILL get results. Find your representative, here:


      Just enter your zipcode. Contacting your state representative works every time in every state.

      Good luck.

      • System Broke

        I also have now been waiting for almost 6 weeks, I have faxed in all info they have asked for, the first week I applied ,which was 2 weeks before Christmas, I have received no letters in the mail. online just says issue next to each week ,which the info I faxed the very first week, was the info they said would take care of those issues, basically I had to fax last paystub of employer I got layed off from ,showing [ year to date wages} I had made enough in that quarter to cancel out past employer wages.. Now everytime I call I get the run around . They initially told me it would be up to four weeks, then went to 4 to 6 weeks ,,today it was 6 to 8 weeks, and most frustrating of all, is every person I talk to gives totally different answers. I’m beyond frustrated. Not counting how long it takes just to get someone on the phone could take multiple hours.

  • JE

    What happens when you receive notice that your unemployment is being garnished for child support, even though the children were adopted out? Do you have to Appeal to stop it or is there another (quicker) way?


  • Josh

    Does anyone have any information on the new law change in Missouri from 13 weeks to 20 weeks? I got all the paperwork sent in to them how long will it take to get payment?

  • Martha vanderpool

    I can’t find out if a person goes to school, can they get an exemption from job search.

  • Richard Merritt

    My job ends on December 31, 2015 when can I apply for unemployment compensation?

  • Leonilda Echevarria

    Can I apply for unemployment if my job place me on administrative leave. Did not give me a date when I can come back. Told me that she would send the paperwork to Hr and she would find out if there were any openings. Then she left a message on my phone that I needed to call Hr and apply on line for any positions. I called Hr and thats when I found out that I only had to Nov 12, 2015 to find a position within the company.

    • Bri

      Hi Leonilda – I’m sorry you’re having some unemployment struggles. This is a bit of a tricky situation, and I’m sure you are well aware of that. Generally speaking, your situation appears to meet basic eligibility requirements for Missouri, and I suggest calling into your local Workforce Center to find out more about your options. I can see a potential problem arising if you do not submit an application to your employer by their deadline as this might be construed as refusing acceptable work, thereby disqualifying you from receiving benefits. I would get started on your unemployment insurance claim, but it’s important you submit an application to HR, even if it’s not a very good one.

    • Bri

      I found some valuable information at the following link: http://nelp.3cdn.net/e66944ab3a4644d338_8gm6bx9ji.pdf

  • I had a appeal hearing on the phone march 6 and was wanting to know how long it takes .

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