As reported by Boise State Public Radio unemployment in Idaho has hit record levels, with almost 109,000 Idaho residents filing for unemployment since Gov. Brad Little declared a state of emergency on March 13. Just to put that in perspective, that’s almost double the entire number of applicants for all of 2019. Some industries have been hit harder than others, with almost half of all new unemployment claimants coming from the food, health care, and retail trade sectors. However, with the crisis continuing to rumble on, it’s unlikely any field will escape the lockdown without casualties. While unemployment benefits won’t replace lost earnings completely, they can be a lifeline for those struggling to make ends meet. If you’re an Idaho resident who’s lost their job or suffered a loss of income as a result of the pandemic, here’s how to file your claim.
Am I Eligible For Unemployment Benefits?
Before beginning your claim, check your eligibility. As Fool.com notes, until March 27, Idaho required all applicants to fulfill the following requirements:
- You are lawfully present in the US.
- You have lost your job or experienced a reduction in income through no fault of your own.
- You are able and available to work and are actively seeking employment.
- You have earned wages in at least two calendar quarters within your base period (your base period is defined as the first four of the most recent five quarters prior to filing your claim).
- You earned a minimum of $1,872 during at least one-quarter of the base period.
- Your total income over the base period is equal to at least 1.5 times the income earned during your highest-earning quarter.
However, since the introduction of the CARES Act, Idaho has waived the work-search requirement for applicants whose employment status has been directly affected by COVID-19. If any of the following applies to your situation, you may be able to file an unemployment claim:
- You cannot work because you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. If your claim is for exposure only, you may be asked to have your exposure validated by a healthcare professional.
- You cannot work because you are a caregiver for someone who is sick with COVID-19 or who is quarantined after exposure (certified by a medical professional).
- You cannot work because of school closures and are unable to work from home or remotely.
- Your employer has cut your working hours or shut down due to COVID-19.
- You have been furloughed due to COVID-19.
- You are self-employed or a gig worker who cannot work because of COVID-19.
How To File For Unemployment Benefits In Idaho
If you tick all the boxes for eligibility, the next step is to start your application. As unemployment payments are backdated to the date you filed your claim, rather than your last working day, it’s recommended you file your claim as soon as possible after becoming unemployed. As Idaho does not accept applications over the phone and all public offices are currently closed, you will need to file your application at the Department of Labor’s online portal. Once you verify your email address and create an account, the system will guide you through the application process through a series of prompts. The site also carries numerous tutorials and FAQ sheets to assist you with the process.
Before starting, gather all the information you’ll need as part of the application. This includes:
- Your Social Security number.
- Your mailing address and email address.
- Your driver’s license or state ID.
- Your Alien Registration card and number if you’re not a US citizen.
- Your full employment history for the past 18 months, to include the name and contact information of all companies you’ve worked for, the first and last working days at each company, your gross earnings with each company, and your reason for leaving the company.
- Form SF-8 and your most recent paystub, if you were a federal employee during the previous 18 months.
- A DD Form 214, if you have served on active military duty within the last 18 months.
Once you’ve filed your initial claim, you’ll need to start verifying your claim weekly through the online portal to avoid any disruption in payments.
How Much Will I Get?
The Weekly Benefits Amount (WBA) in Idaho is capped at $414, but your actual entitlement will vary depending on your previous income. For an indication of how much you’re likely to receive, divide your total earnings during your highest-paid quarter by 26. In addition to your entitlement with the state, you’ll also be entitled to a supplementary payment of $600 per week under the provisions of the CARES Act. The payment will be made separately to your usual benefits payment and will be backdated to March 29. The supplementary payments can be claimed for 4 months in total, valid until the end of July 2020.
How Long Can I Collect Unemployment Benefits In Idaho?
The maximum number of weeks you can typically collect benefits in Idaho is 21 weeks. However, thanks to the CARES Act, this has now been extended by an additional 13 weeks, allowing you to claim for a total of 34 weeks until the end of July 2020.
Can I Appeal If My Claim Is Denied?
Once your application has been reviewed, you’ll receive a determination letter confirming whether your claim has been approved, along with how much your WBA has been decided at. If you disagree with the decision, you have 14 days from the mailing date of the determination to file an appeal through the Appeals Bureau of the Idaho Department of Labor. Your appeal will need to state your name, contact information, SSN, and an explanation of which determination(s) you disagree with, and why. You will then be assigned a hearings officer who will contact you with details of when your hearing will take place. All hearings are conducted over the phone. If you disagree with the examiner’s decision following the hearing, you have a further 14 days to log an appeal with the Idaho Industrial Commission. If you disagree with the Commission’s decision, you will need to file a further appeal in court.