New Hampshire is currently experiencing unprecedentedly low unemployment. Yet, turnover in the workforce continues as the state’s older population looks to odd jobs as a means of riding out a still recovering economy. Learning the processes for filing for unemployment benefits with the New Hampshire Employment Security’s Unemployment Division (NHES) will help should misfortune befall you.
Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits in NH
To qualify for benefits, you must have earned a minimum amount during a 12-month period prior to your filing a claim. You must have earned those wages from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance laws. If you meet this monetary eligibility requirement, you must additionally:
- Be unemployed through no fault of your own
- Be legally authorized to work in the US
- Be able and available to return to work
You must register with NHworks, New Hampshire’s employment services office within days of filing your claim. It’s uncommon, but if you received severance pay or wages in lieu of notice, you must report these when you file.
Eligibility Requirements Explained
Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own
You cannot be the cause of your separation from work and be eligible to receive benefits. If your employer has no work for you or they move the store or close the plant, you are likely to be eligible. You may be eligible if you are forced to quit, but only under specific circumstances.
You must be able to show you are authorized to work in this country. That means you should be a citizen or possess a “green card.” In very specific circumstances, H1-B visa holders may be eligible.
Able and Available
You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file your initial claim. You must also be available to accept an offer of suitable employment. “Suitable employment” is a job that you’re trained to perform at a salary similar to what you’re used to (or similar to other jobs with the same qualifications).
Monetary Qualifications and the Base Period
To qualify for benefits, the NHES examiners will look at your wages over a 12-month period prior to your filing a claim. This period is called the base period, and is the first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing a claim.
You must have earned a minimum of $2,800. You must have earned at least $1,400 in two separate quarters.
If you don’t qualify using the standard base period calculation, the NHES will use an alternative base period. The alternative is the four quarters immediately prior to your filing a claim.
You will receive a notice regarding your wage calculations called a Determination of Unemployment Compensation. If you receive this notice, it does not mean you will be awarded benefits, as the examiner must still determine whether you meet the other eligibility requirements.
Calculating Your Benefit Payments
The NHES uses the base period wages to determine how much you’ll receive each week, your weekly benefit amount (WBA). The examiner will observe your total base period wages and compare them to predetermined WBA amounts. The state legislature sets the WBA amounts, including the maximum and minimum WBA.
You may use the online form to estimate what your WBA will be.
You can receive a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits over a 52-week period that begins on your filing date (benefit year). The total amount you can collect in a benefit year is 26X your WBA.
Once you collect your 26 weeks, that’s all, unless you get a new job and earn enough wages to file an additional claim. However, during times of high unemployment, the state or federal government may authorize additional weeks of benefit payments. No such program exists in the current economic climate.
How to File a Claim
File your claim online at the NHES homepage. This is the only way to file. If you don’t have Internet access, you can visit a local NHES office and use their computers.
You will have to have some pieces of information handy.
- Your Social Security number
- Current contact information, including an Email address
- Your work record for the past 18 months:
- Employers’ names and contact information
- Pay rate
- Start and end dates for each job
- Reason for the end of employment
If you are filing a claim for NH benefits, but live out of state, you may call 1-800-266-2252, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm EST.
If you are using federal or military employment as a basis for your claim, or you worked for either during your base period, you must show the appropriate separation forms.
Filing a Weekly Claim and Maintaining Eligibility
To continue to collect benefits, the NHES requires that you maintain the eligibility status you had when you filed the first time. To monitor your eligibility, the state requires you file a new claim each week, sometimes called “certifying weekly” or “filing a continuing claim.”
You’ll file a weekly claim online at the NHES claimant portal. You should file every week no matter the circumstances, whether you are waiting on a decision or filing an appeal.
When you file weekly, you’ll have to answer several questions. These questions intend to determine your eligibility. You’ll answer questions such as:
- Whether you are able and available to work
- Whether you started or quit a new job
- Whether you refused an offer of employment
- Whether you earned any wages that week
If you refused work or earned money, you’ll have to report this to NHES. Failure to report these things could result in penalties up to or including a loss of benefits or a fraud charge.
Part-time Work and Unemployment Benefits
You may file a claim if your employer reduced your work hours from full to part-time. You may also work part-time and still receive benefits. However, you cannot earn more than your WBA. The NHES will consider you to be employed for that week. You won’t receive benefits.
The state will deduct a percentage of your WBA based on how much you report in earnings for the week.
Work Search Requirements
The NHES does not require a specific number of job search contacts for each week you receive a benefit payment. However, the Department still places an emphasis on making a good faith effort to find work. You should look for work each week using the tools offered by NHworks and keep a log of your attempts to find a job. NHES may review your job searches at any time and may hold your payments until you can show a good reason for not looking for work.
NHworks may ask you to report to your local office for job counseling or other reasons. NHES also offers a re-employment program for workers it has identified as possibly needing special assistance to find a job. These meetings are mandatory, and if called, you must report. If you do not, the NHES may withhold your benefits.
Reasons for Denial of Benefits
The NHES examiners will deny your claim if you do not meet the monetary eligibility requirements. You may request a redetermination. However, you must be able to show, using evidence, where there is an error or omission.
If you meet the monetary eligibility requirements, the NHES may still deny your claim based on other issues, usually involving your separation from work. The examiner will attempt to determine whether you were at fault for your separation from work, whether you quit without good cause or were dismissed for misconduct.
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?
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.
In determining whether you caused your separation from work, the examiner will contact your former employer for their side of the story. They may accept the employer’s word in many cases. You may have to argue your case on appeal.
The NHES may deny your continuing claim for benefits even after approving your initial claim. If you fail to respond to a NHES request, fail to report income or wages or violate the unemployment laws, you may receive notice of a denial.
What Happens When the NHES Denies Benefits
The NHES will mail a Notice of Eligibility Determination to inform you whether they approved your claim. If they denied your claim, your notice will include instructions on how to file an appeal. You will have a limited amount of time in which to appeal a denial of benefits, so you should move quickly if you plan to appeal.
You may read more about the appeals process on our page on appealing a denial of benefits in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES)
45 South Fruit Street | Concord NH 03301 | 603-224-3311 | 1-800-852-3400
TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964
Receive additional assistance at the NHES contact page
NH WORKS/American Job Centers
All offices are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
151 Pleasant Street
Berlin, NH 06570-0159
404 Washington Street
Claremont, NH 03743-2261
45 South Fruit Street
Concord, NH 03301-1140
518 White Mountain Highway
Conway, NH 03818-4205
Keene NEW ADDRESS!
149 Emerald Street
Keene, NH 03431
426 Union Avenue, Suite 3
Laconia, NH 03246-2894
646 Union Street, Suite 100
Littleton, NH 03561-5314
300 Hanover Street
Manchester, NH 03104-4957
6 Townsend West
Nashua, NH 03063-1215
2000 Lafayette Road
Portsmouth, NH 03801-5673
29 South Broadway
Salem, NH 03079-3026
243 Route 108
Somersworth, NH 03878
All offices are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.