How to Get Unemployment Benefits in Utah
The Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) administers the state’s unemployment insurance program. If you are unfortunate enough to be in need of unemployment benefits while you look for work, this guide will help you get what you need.
Eligibility for Unemployment in Utah
To qualify for benefits, you must have earned a minimum amount of wages from an employer covered by Utah unemployment laws (covered employer) during a 12-month period prior to your filing a claim. Additionally, you must have:
- Lost your job through no fault of your own
- Be able and available to go back to work
- Be authorized to work in the US
You must register with the employment assistance service at jobs.utah.gov within 10 days of your initial claim. Failure to do so may result in the DWS denying 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.
Monetary Qualification and the Base Period
The DWS looks at your wages in a period prior to your filing a claim to determine whether you qualify for benefits. That 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 wages in two or more calendar quarters of your base period. Your total base-period wages must be at least 1.5 times the wages you earned in your highest quarter, the 3-month period where you earned the most money. There is also a minimum amount of wages required during the base period.
If you don’t meet the wage requirement using this measure, the examiner will use an alternate base period, which is the last four quarters before you filed a claim.
Calculating Your Benefit Amount
The DWS also uses the base period to determine how much you’ll receive each week, your weekly benefit amount (WBA). Your base period wages will determine how much you’ll get.
You can get an idea of what you may receive by using the “preliminary monetary determination” tool on the DWS website.
Duration of Benefits
The base period wages will also determine how many weeks you’ll receive a payment. The minimum is 10 weeks, the maximum is 26 weeks.
During times of high unemployment, claimants may receive benefits for more than the maximum number of weeks. The government must authorize such extended benefits via legislation. No such program currently exists.
You’ll receive a Notice of Monetary Determination within a week after you file. This notice will show your base period wages and an estimate of the amount and duration of your benefits. This notice is not a guarantee that you will get benefits.
How to Apply
You can apply for benefits online by registering at jobs.utah.gov. You will need the following information to file:
- Your Social Security Number.
- The names of all employers as they appear on your pay stub with the dates worked for all employers since 4/1/2016.
- The name and local number of your union hall, if you obtain work through a union.
- Your State Driver’s License or Identification Card number if you have one.
- Your Alien Registration Number if you are not a US citizen but are legally authorized to work in the United States.
- If you have any Non-Utah employers you must have an accurate mailing address and phone number for them.
If you worked for the federal government or the military in the past 18-months, you’ll need the appropriate separation paperwork.
Weekly Certifications and Maintaining Eligibility
Once you are successful in filing an initial claim and the DWS approves, you’ll have to file a claim each week to get a benefit payment. This way, the state can make sure you retain the eligibility status you had when you filed your initial claim.
You may file your continuing claim online. You will have to answer several questions that will help the DWS determine (instantly) whether you remain eligible. The questions address areas such as:
- 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
If you started working, refused a job or you earned wages, you must report this to the DWS. You have to report wages during the week you earned them, not when you were paid. Failure to report such information could lead to the state stopping your benefit payments or fraud charges.
Part-time Work and Receiving Benefits
You can file a claim for partial unemployment benefits if you were working full-time and your employer reduced your hours. You may also work part-time after you begin receiving payments. However, you have to report these wages. The DWS will deduct an amount from your WBA based on how much you worked.
You can earn up to 30% of your WBA before the state begins deducting. The deduction will be dollar-for-dollar after the 30%.
If you work full-time (40 hrs), you won’t get a payment that week, even if that paycheck doesn’t exceed your WBA. Of course, if you get paid more than your WBA, you won’t get a payment.
You should report self-employment work as well.
Work Search Requirement
You have to show the DWS you’re making a good faith effort to find work while you’re getting benefits. A good faith effort includes making several verifiable job contacts per week, as well as taking part in any re-employment services the department offers.
You should make at least four new full-time job contacts each week. A new contact means contacting an employer you have not contacted before, or contacting a previously contacted employer on a newly listed job opening. You are required to keep a detailed record of your work search activities, and will be required to provide this information during your weekly filing. You may also be selected at any time for an audit or eligibility review during which you will be asked to provide this information. Your record of employer contacts should include the following:
- Date of contact
- Name of company or other identifying information, such as job reference number
- Company address, phone number, email, web link, or person contacted
- Position title
- Method of contact
- Results of contact
Some benefit recipients will be exempt from the work search requirement. If you are in good standing in a union hall, in state approved training or you have a specific return to work date, you may be exempt.
Some re-employment service tasks are mandatory. The DWS may identify you as a worker that may need additional assistance finding work. If you are called to participate in this program, you risk losing benefits if you avoid it.
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 state 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 DWS 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 notice will include instructions on how to file an appeal.
Find out more about the appeals process in Utah at our pages on unemployment appeals.
For questions regarding an existing claim or UI benefits in general, please call the Claims Center at:
- Salt Lake and South Davis Counties (801) 526-4400
- Weber and North Davis Counties (801) 612-0877
- Utah County (801) 375-4067
- Remainder of State and Out of State 1-888-848-0688
Utah Department of Workforce Services
P.O. Box 45288
140 East 300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0288
For an overview of the claims process, read the claimant guide at the DWS site.