As the Motley Fool notes, Missouri has experienced a 900% increase in unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With no end to the crisis yet in sight, it’s unlikely the figures will be getting any prettier any time soon. If you’re one of the many residents of Missouri who’s lost their job, don’t start eating into your savings just yet. While unemployment insurance benefits (UI) won’t replace all of your lost income, they can help bridge the gap until you find yourself back in work.
Am I Eligible to Claim Unemployment in Missouri?
In order to be claim unemployment benefits in Missouri, you would typically need to satisfy the following eligibility requirements:
- You have been made unemployed through no fault of your own, or have left your job for a justified reason
- You are legally authorized to work in the US
- You have not filed a claim for benefits in another state
- You have made at least $2,250 during the first four completed quarters of the last five quarters immediately preceding your claim). You must have made at least $1,500 during one quarter, and your overall income over the entire period must be at least once and a half times your income during your best quarter.
- You are able and available to work and have registered for work.
Further to the CARES Act of March 27, applicants no longer have to fulfill the work search requirement. If you’ve lost your job as a direct result of the pandemic (for example, if you are sick with coronavirus or have been quarantined after exposure (you will be asked to validate the exposure with a medical certificate); you are the primary caregiver to someone who is sick with coronavirus or who is in quarantine after exposure (again, a medical certificate verifying the exposure will be needed); you have been laid off; you are working reduced hours; you’ve been affected by school closures; you’ve been ordered to shelter in place) you will not be required to demonstrate you are able or available to work.
As a further change to the usual eligibility requirements, gig workers, the self-employed, and contract workers (all of whom would not normally be eligible) may now apply for support. All applicants will, however, still need to have met minimum income expectations.
How Can I File for Unemployment in Missouri?
To file for unemployment in Missouri, you can either call toll free on (800) 320-2519 or register at the Missouri Department of Labor website. Because of the high volume of calls currently being received, the department recommends you file online if at all possible.
What Information Will I Need?
Regardless of how you choose to file your claim, be sure to have the following information to hand:
- Your Social Security number
- Your birthdate
- Your contact address and a telephone number on which you can be reached during business hours
- Your driver’s license or state ID
- You bank account information if you choose to be paid by direct deposit
- Any holiday or severance you were paid after leaving your last employer
- Your employment history for the most recent 18 months. You will be asked to confirm the name and address for each employer, your last working day with them, your earnings, and your reason for leaving
- Pension Information, if applicable
- Your Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letter, if applicable
- The date you expect to return to your job, if you have been temporarily laid off
- You Alien ID number if you are not a US citizen
Additional information may also be requested if you have served in the military or worked for a federal agency within the last 18 months.
How Much Will I Get?
In Missouri, the maximum you can claim in UI per week is $320. However, bear in mind the total you receive will depend on your earnings over the last 18 months. Your WBA will be 4% of your average wage during the two highest-paid quarter of the previous 18 months. The department will issue a Monetary Determination confirming your likely WBA once they have received your claim. If you’d like to get an idea of your entitlement in advance, File Unemployment has an online calculator that can be used for reference.
During the application, you’ll be asked to confirm whether you’d like your WBA to be automatically transferred into your bank account, or loaded onto a prepaid debit card. In addition to your state benefit, you’ll also receive a supplementary $600 weekly payment as part of the CARES Act. Your entitlement will be calculated by the Department of Labor as part of your initial claim and will be paid weekly until the end of July.
How Long Can I Claim Unemployment in Missouri?
Typically, UI can be claimed for a maximum of 20 weeks in Missouri. However, the CARES Act extends this by a further 13 weeks, up to a maximum of 33 weeks.
What are the Next Steps?
Once you’ve filed your claim, you can check its status online. The Department of Labor typically takes up to three weeks to review your claim. Once a decision has been reached, they’ll issue a written determination confirming your eligibility. If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision within 30 days of the mailing date of the notice of determination. If you do not file the appeal by the deadline, you’ll lose the right to appeal unless you can prove reasonable cause for the delay. As Wiki How notes, it’s advisable to consult an attorney who specializes in unemployment prior to logging your appeal. Most offer a free initial consultation, and you aren’t obliged to continue to use their service if you’d rather pursue the appeal independently. All details on the appeal process will be contained on the Notice of Determination.