During the recent recession, states like New Mexico realized that their unemployment insurance delivery systems were inadequate. High unemployment and the accompanying increased demand for benefits caused a massive backlog of complaints and cut into funding sources. In 2016 — after the economy recovered — the federal government authorized grant money to help New Mexico’s Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) improve outcomes for those who file claims.
The grants have not yet changed DWS procedures significantly. It remains important to know how to avoid problems when applying for benefits.
Eligibility for Unemployment in NM
To qualify for benefits, you must have earned enough wages over a 12-month period from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance laws. Additionally, you must:
- Be unemployed through no fault of your own
- Be able and available to work
- Be legally authorized to work in the US
You must register with the New Mexico Workforce Connection Center, either online or in person at one of the physical locations, within 14 days of filing your initial claim.
Eligibility Requirements Explained
Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own
Your actions or decisions cannot be the cause of your separation from work. Examples are laid off workers, those who have had their place of business close or someone fired for inability to do the job.
Able and Available
You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file your claim. You must be available to accept an offer of suitable employment. “Suitable employment” is a job you’re trained to do at a reasonable salary. Examples of those unavailable for work are people who are incarcerated or full-time students with inflexible schedules.
You must be able to prove citizenship or legal authorization to work in the US to be eligible for unemployment. If you are non-citizen, you may show an alien registration card. H1-B visa holders may apply if they are temporarily laid off with a definite return date.
Monetary Eligibility and the Base Period
To qualify initially, you must have worked for an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance laws (“covered employer”). You must have earned enough money over a 12-month period called the base period. The base period is the first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing a claim.
- You must have earned at least $1,919.63 in covered wages during the entire 12-months in your base period.
- You must have earned some covered wages in at least two quarters during the base period.
If you are ineligible using the standard base period calculation, the DWS will use an alternate base period. The alternate period is the last four quarters prior to your filing a claim.
Calculating Benefit Payments
The DWS uses the base period wages to calculate how much you’ll receive each week, your weekly benefit amount (WBA).
The maximum you can receive per week under 2017 law is $425. The minimum WBA is $79.
You may receive benefits for a maximum 26 weeks. Your total benefit amount (for the year in which you file a claim) would be 26 x WBA.
You may notify the DWS if you are responsible for the care of non-emancipated children under 18 years old. You will receive $25 per week for each dependent, but you can only claim two maximum. The total claims for dependents cannot be more than 50% of your WBA. You will have to be able to verify that you care for the dependents.
Notice of Monetary Determination
Soon after you file your initial claim, the DWS will mail a Notice of Monetary Determination. This will contain your base period wage calculations and your potential WBA. Receiving this notice does not mean that the DWS approved your claim. You will receive a separate notice if the state approves your claim.
Read the Notice of Monetary Determination. If you notice any errors or otherwise disagree with the findings, you may request a redetermination. The DWS will mail you a Wage and Employer Correction sheet so that you may address any mistakes.
How to File an Unemployment Claim in NM
You may file online or by telephone. First, collect the following information:
- Your Social Security Number
- Non US citizens should bring their Alien Registration number and expiration date
- The names and contact information of employers you worked for within the past 18 months
- The dates (start and end) you spent employed in the past 18 months
How to File
- ONLINE via www.jobs.state.nm.us
Sunday-Friday from 4am-9pm
- TELEPHONE at their toll-free number (877) 664-6984
Monday-Friday from 8am-4:30pm
NOTE: “Please allow at least 30 minutes to file an online claim or certifying for your weekly requests for benefits prior to system down time” (Source)
WHEN TO FILE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIMS
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions recommends filing for unemployment insurance benefits as soon as you become totally unemployed or your hours are reduced to less than full-time (aka partially unemployed).
Maintaining Eligibility and Weekly Certifications
The DWS requires that all benefit recipients maintain their initial eligibility status. To monitor eligibility, the state requires that you file a continuing claim, sometimes called “filing a weekly claim” or “requesting payment.”
You will log into your account at http://www.jobs.state.nm.us/ or call the telephone claims system. You will receive a series of questions meant to determine continuing eligibility. Such questions include:
- 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 earn any wages, you must report it during the week you did the work, not when you received payment. The state may consider failure to report wages or income to be fraud, actionable by prosecution.
You will have to record your job search efforts at this time. Find more specific information on required job searches below.
Part-time Work and Benefits
You may earn up to 20% of your WBA while receiving unemployment insurance benefit payments, however, if you earn more than 20% of your WBA, then your earnings will start being deducted from your weekly unemployment benefit payments.
You may also file an initial claim if your employer reduced your hours from full to part-time. You must be otherwise eligible and search for full-time employment.
Work Search Requirement
Refusing Suitable Employment
- Are a member of a union hall
- Have a definite return date
- Have entered into a DWS approved training program
Reasons for Denial of Benefits
The DWS claims examiner will deny benefits if you do not have sufficient base period wages to qualify. If you do meet the monetary requirement, the DWS may still deny benefits for non-montary reasons.
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 DWS will deny your claim.
Quitting for personal reasons, like returning to school or because you didn’t like the job are not good causes to quit.
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?
If you are fired for misconduct, the claims examiner will deny benefits. “Misconduct” is generally any 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.
- Failing to report to your local New Mexico Workforce Connection Center if requested to do so
- Refusing any offers of suitable work
- You voluntarily quit your job without good reason or voluntarily retire
- You were fired due to misconduct
- You are unemployed because of a labor dispute
- You fail to adequately complete work search requirements (contacting potential employers at least twice weekly)
- You fail to register for New Mexico’s online job database system
- You become unable to work
- You are not available to work for whatever reason (travel, injury, illness, incarceration)
- You are hired as a full-time employee
- You are hired and earn more than the allowed income for your WBA
Unemployment Insurance Claim Denied – Now what?
If there is a legitimate reason for your New Mexico Unemployment Insurance claim being denied, then there is not much else you can do aside from seeking new employment opportunities. However, if your claim was denied and you believe you should have been approved to receive unemployment insurance benefits, then you have the right to file an appeal.
Filing an appeal is your opportunity to make a case for why you should be determined eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. To learn more about the appeals process for New Mexico Unemployment Insurance, read our page on filing an unemployment appeal in New Mexico.