How to Get Unemployment Benefits in Oregon
The Oregon Employment Department (OED) runs the unemployment insurance program for workers in the state. The state offers a fairly substantial maximum benefit amount for those who find themselves out of work from unfortunate circumstances. Find out how to get benefits with as few problems as possible in this guide so that you can get back on your feet and become productive again.
To be qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have earned wages during the year prior to filing a claim from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance laws. You must have earned enough wages from that employment to meet the minimum monetary qualifications.
If you meet the monetary qualification, you must also:
- Be unemployed through no fault of your own
- Be able and available to work
- Legally authorized to work in the US
You must register with the state’s job search service. If the state approves your claim, you must maintain this eligibility and keep looking for work as long as you are receiving benefits.
Eligibility Requirements Explained
Lost Your Job Through No Fault of Your Own
If you were laid off, your plant closed or moved away, you may be eligible for benefits. If you quit or your employer let you go because of some rule violation, you may not be eligible.
Able and Available
You must be mentally and physically able to work when you file your claim. You must also be available to accept an offer of suitable employment. “Suitable employment” is work you’re trained to do at a salary similar to what you’ve received in the past.
You must be a US citizen or be able to show proof you’re authorized to work in the US. In rare cases, H1-B visa holders may be eligible if their employer laid them off with a specific return date.
To meet this primary requirement, you must have earned enough wages from a covered employer over a 12-month period prior to your filing a claim. This 12-month period is called the base period. It’s the first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing a claim.
You must have earned at least $1,000 from a covered employer AND have total base period wages that equal or exceed one and a half times the wages paid in the quarter where you earned the most money (often called a “high quarter”).
If you don’t meet that standard, you may qualify if you worked at least 500 hours at a covered employer during the base period and earned some wages during that time.
Calculating the Weekly Benefit Amount
The OED will use your base period wages to calculate your weekly benefit amount (WBA). Your WBA will be approximately 1.25% of your total base period wages. Your WBA cannot be over the maximum (or under the minimum) set by the Oregon legislature.
The current maximum WBA is $590.
Duration of Benefits
You can receive benefits up to a maximum 26 weeks per year. You cannot receive more than your maximum benefit amount. You have a year to use all of your 26 weeks. You cannot get more benefits until the year has passed.
In periods of high unemployment, the state or federal government will authorize additional weeks of benefit payments. Currently, Oregon has not authorized any extended benefits.
You will receive a Wage and Potential Benefit Report 10 days after you file. This report will inform you of your possible WBA and how the OED calculated your base period wages. If you find any errors in this report, you will be able to request a redetermination of benefits. You should call the OED immediately, and report any mistake even if the mistake is in your favor.
How to File for Unemployment Benefits in OR
You can file for benefits using the online claimant portal or call their Unemployment Insurance Claims center.
Unemployment Insurance Call Centers:
Portland Area: (503) 292-2057
Salem Area: (503) 947-1500
TOLL FREE: (877) 345-3484
You should have on-hand several pieces of information:
- Social Security number
- Current contact information/mailing address
- Contact information for your employers for the past 18 months
- Reasons why you were separated from your job(s).
If you are former military or were a federal employee, you will need the appropriate separation papers.
You should file as soon as you possibly can, preferably on the day your job will end.
Maintaining Eligibility and Weekly Claims
You have to file a claim each week, even if your benefits have been approved. States require the weekly or biweekly claim system in order to monitor whether you are maintaining your eligibility for benefits.
You can file online or by telephone just as you do when filing the initial claim.
Greater Salem Area:
TOLL FREE: (800) 982-8920
TTY Relay Service 711 www.SprintRelay.com
You will have to answer questions about your activities when filing the weekly claim. The OED will want to know whether:
- You are looking for work
- You are able and available to work
- You started or quit a new job
- You refused a job offer
- You earned any wages
Answer the questions truthfully and report any wages you’ve earned. If the OED finds out you have intentionally withheld information, you may face penalties or a loss of benefits.
Start filing weekly claims the Sunday after you file your initial claim. Otherwise, you won’t get credit for the “waiting week.”
Part-time Work and Benefits
As the previous section suggests, you may work part-time and still receive benefits. However, the state will reduce your WBA depending on how much you’ve earned.
You may earn up to 10 times the minimum wage or 1/3 of your WBA, whichever is greater before the OED will reduce your benefits. Above that, the OED will reduce your WBA dollar-for-dollar.
You may receive benefits as long as your wages don’t exceed your WBA.
If you work full-time, you won’t be considered unemployed, even if your wages don’t exceed your WBA. You won’t receive any benefits for any week in which you report full-time hours.
Work Search Requirements
The OED requires that you look for work while receiving benefits, and you must make a good faith effort to find a job. In the eyes of the OED, a good faith effort is making at least five job search activities per week. Two of those five must be a direct contact with a potential employer. These two contacts can be via phone or email or other forms of online communication.
The other three contacts can be through other various means of finding work.
You should document all of your activities. The OED will randomly monitor your job search activities. If you aren’t looking for work, you may lose your benefits.
The OED may offer training or other reemployment services. The department will contact you if you are chosen to participate. You must report to the OED if you are called.
Certain workers may be exempt from job search requirements. Members of a union hall or those in OED approved training may be exempt. If you have a specific return date (temporary lay off), you may also be exempt.
Reasons for Denial of Benefits
If you do not meet the monetary eligibility requirements, the state will deny your claim for benefits. If you do meet the requirement, the state may deny your claim based on issues related to your separation from work. If your claim is successful, the state may suspend benefits or deny a weekly claim because you failed to remain eligible.
The examiner will look at the circumstances of how your employment ended. If you quit, the examiner will check to see whether you quit with good cause. If not, they will deny your claim. If you were discharged, they will look for evidence of misconduct. If the examiner believes such evidence exists, they will deny benefits.
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 OED may place a stop on your claim if you have not complied with some requirement, like failing to report starting a new job. They will make a determination whether you will continue to receive benefits.
What Happens When the State Denies a Claim
The OED will mail a notice of eligibility determination after you file a claim. This may take two weeks or more. It will inform you of whether the state has approved your claim. If the state denies your claim, you may appeal the decision. You will have a limited time in which to request an appeal, so file your request as soon as possible. The OED’s notice will include instructions on how to file an appeal.
Read our page on filing an appeal in Oregon for more information.
PO Box 14135
Salem OR 97309-5068
Fax: (866) 345-1878
Oregon Employment Department
875 Union St. NE
Salem, OR 97311
Find a Job
Check out the Worksource Oregon website for job information