Unemployment Benefits in Vermont

  Last Verified: July 2017  

The Vermont Department of Labor (DOL) administers the state’s unemployment insurance program. If you lost your job and weren’t fired, you may be able to get temporary assistance from the DOL until you find work. Learn how through this guide.

Eligibility for Unemployment in Vermont

To qualify for benefits, you must be fully or partially unemployed (if your work hours drop from full-time to below 35 hours per week). You must have earned wages from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law, and you must have earned those wages during a 12-month period prior to your filing for benefits. These are the “monetary eligibility” requirements.get unemployment in VT

Even if you meet the monetary qualification, you must also:

  • 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 state’s employment assistance department, Vermont Joblink, within days of filing your claim. If you don’t, there may be a delay in processing your claim. If you are awarded benefits without registering, the state may ask you to repay the benefits you’ve received.

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.

Legally Authorized

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 DOL will examine your wages over a 12-month period called your “base period.” The base period is 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 a minimum amount from a covered employer during the quarter where you earned the most money (your “high quarter”). The wages you earned in the other quarters must equal or exceed 40% of your high quarter wages. Essentially, if you worked consistently during the year prior to your filing a claim, you are likely to qualify.

If you don’t qualify using the standard base period, the DOL examiners will use various time frames as your base period to see if you will qualify. If you had to quit for medical reasons related to work, and you file for temporary Worker’s Compensation, the examiner will count the wages you would have earned if you did not have to quit. Note that your Worker’s Compensation benefits must have ended for you to receive unemployment.

Calculating the Weekly Benefit Amount

The DOL will use base period wages to determine the amount you’ll receive each week (WBA) and how long you can receive benefits. The examiner will take your two highest earning quarters and divide the sum by 45.

The maximum and minimum WBA you can receive is set by the state legislature. The current maximum is $458.

Duration of Benefits

You can receive benefit payments for up to 26 weeks during a benefit year, or 46% of your total base period wages, whichever is lower.

During times of high unemployment, the state or federal government will authorize additional weeks of benefit payments. No such program is currently in place.

The DOL will mail a Notice of Monetary Determination soon after you file the initial claim. The form will tell you how much you are eligible to receive, whether you meet the monetary qualifications and other information. This notice is not an indication that the state has approved your claim. You will receive a separate notice if and when you are approved.

How to File a Claim

You must file your initial claim by telephone. Call 1-877-214-3330 to “establish” your claim. You will need to provide some information to the claims representative to begin the process.

  • Name, social security number and VT driver’s license or state ID
  • Current contact information
  • Your employers for the past 18 months, their contact information
  • The start and end dates for all work over the past 18 months
  • Why you lost your most recent job

The representative may request additional information. If you worked for a federal employer or the military over the prior 18 months, have the appropriate separation paperwork ready.

Weekly Claims and Maintaining Eligibility

The DOL requires that you file a claim each week in order to receive benefits. You are not filing a new claim, but a “continuing” claim to make sure that you continue to be eligible while you are receiving benefits. Most importantly, the state wants to make sure that you are looking for work and that you are not working full-time while receiving benefits.

To file a weekly claim, you must use the claimant portal online. If you have some issue using this method, you can ask permission to file via the telephone. You may also file using the phone if you have a return to work date that is within 10 weeks of establishing your claim.

You will have to answer questions each time you file a weekly claim. These questions are about your eligibility to receive benefits.

  • Whether you are able and available to work
  • Whether you have started or quit a new job
  • Whether you are looking for work
  • Whether you have earned any wages
  • Whether you refused an offer of suitable employment

The system (or examiner) may ask additional questions about your job search efforts.

You cannot receive a payment if you do not file a weekly claim. You have until 4:30PM on the Friday of that week to file. If you cannot file that week for any reason, call the claims department immediately. The Vermont DOL does not allow back dating claims, so if you don’t file by 4:30 on Friday, you will have to reopen your claim.

You may reopen your claim online using the claimant portal. However, you will miss some weeks in receiving payments, so it is important that you remember to file weekly.

Work Search Requirement

The state requires that you make a good faith effort to find a job while you get benefits. You must make three valid job contacts each week, report those contacts when you file your weekly claim and keep records of your job search efforts.

Whether your job contacts/search efforts are acceptable depends on the kind of work you’re looking for. Generally, whatever it took to get your last job will be acceptable. If you submit resumes in your profession, keep doing that. If you fill out applications with store managers, do that. But write down:

  • Who you contacted
  • How you contacted them
  • Their contact information
  • The job you applied for
  • The result of the contact

The DOL may require you to participate in various programs that are designed to help you find work. Participation is mandatory. The state may hold your benefits until you can explain why you are not participating, or they may declare that you are ineligible.

You may be exempt from the work search requirement if you have a specific return date (within 10 weeks of your initial claim) or the DOL tells you that you are exempt (if you are in a union hall).

You can use the career resource center as a place to look for work. You may also use the center to access the computer and file weekly claims.

Part-time Work and Benefits

You can establish a claim if you are partially unemployed (working less than 35 hours per week). You may also work part-time and receive benefits.

In Vermont, if you have had a side gig while working a primary job and you lost your primary job, you don’t have to report wages from your side gig. The state calls it “sideline activity.” It is not a second job; you have to report wages you earned from an employer. Sideline activity is your own business that you’ve established.

If you do get part-time work from an employer, you must report these wages. The state will ignore 50% of the gross wages earned. Above that, the state will deduct from your WBA on a dollar-for-dollar basis. You will keep all the wages you earned, but your benefit payment will be smaller that week.

If you work more than 35 hours, you won’t receive a payment even if your gross wages don’t exceed your WBA. If your gross wages exceed your WBA, you won’t receive payment. Report the wages during the week you earned the wages.

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.

Separation Issues

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.

Quitting

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?

Fired

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.

Other Issues

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 DOL will mail a Notice of Determination when it determines whether you are eligible for benefits. If the department determines you are ineligible for benefits, you have the right to appeal. You will have 30 days from the mailing date on the decision in which to file the appeal.

The appeal gives you the right to an administrative hearing in front of an impartial judge. Learn more about appeals from our page on unemployment appeals in Vermont.

Resources

Contact

5 Green Mountain Drive Voice 802.828.4000
PO Box 488 Fax 802.828.4022
Montpelier,VT 05601-0488

Check on the status of an existing claim: www.labor.vermont.gov then click “claimant applications” or call 1-800-983-2300

Career resource center locations

Office Address Phone Fax
Barre Resource Center McFarland State Office Building
5 Perry Street, Suite 200
Barre, VT 05641

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
802-476-2600 802-476-2628
Bennington Resource Center 200 Veterans Memorial Drive, Suite 2
Bennington, VT 05201

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
802-442-6376 802-447-2726
Brattleboro Resource Center State Office Building
232 Main Street
Brattleboro, VT 05301

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
Closed for Lunch
12:15pm – 1:00pm
802-254-4555 802-257-2896
Burlington Resource Center 63 Pearl Street
Burlington, VT 05401

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
802-863-7676 802-863-7655
Middlebury Resource Center 1590 Route 7 South, Suite 5
Middlebury, VT 05753

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
Closed for Lunch
12:15pm – 1:00pm
802-388-4921 802-388-4630
Morrisville Resource Center 197 Harrel Street
Morrisville, VT 05661-0429

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
Closed for Lunch
12:30pm – 1:15pm
802-888-4545 802-888-2543
Newport Resource Center Emory E. Hebard State Office Building
100 Main Street, Suite 210
Newport, VT 05855-0375

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
Closed for Lunch
12:15pm – 1:00pm
802-334-6545 802-334-3351
Randolph Resource Center 50 Randolph Avenue
Randolph, VT  05060

By appointment only
802-476-2600
Rutland Resource Center 200 Asa Bloomer Building
Rutland, VT 05701

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
802-786-5837 802-786-5896
St. Albans Resource Center 27 Federal Street, Suite 100
St. Albans, VT 05478

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
802-524-6585 802-524-7933
St. Johnsbury Resource Center PO Box 129
1197 Main Street, Suite 1
St. Johnsbury, VT 05819-0129

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
Closed for Lunch
12:15pm – 1:00pm
802-748-3177 802-748-6620
Springfield Resource Center 56 Main Street, Suite 101
Springfield, VT 05156

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
Closed for Lunch
12:15pm – 1:00pm
802-885-2167 802-885-2728
White River Jct. Resource Ctr./Hartford 118 Prospect Street, Suite 302
Hartford, VT 05001

Monday – Thursday
7:45am – 4:30pm
Friday
9:45am – 4:30pm
Closed for Lunch
12:30pm – 1:15pm
802-295-8805 802-295-8819