Since the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on the US, the number of workers who’ve been forced out of a job has soared. As CNN reports, 110,764 Nebraska residents (representing about 10.5% of its March labor force) have filed their initial claims for UI during the past seven weeks. In comparison to many other states, the numbers are small fry… although it’s doubtful those 110,794 feel any better for it. If you’ve recently lost your job or experienced a reduction in income as a result of the crisis, here’s how to file for unemployment in Nebraska.
How to File for UI in Nebraska
While UI can be a lifeline to those who’ve lost their job, the program isn’t open to everyone. To avoid any disappointment down the line, check your eligibility before getting started on your application.
The Eligibility Check
Like all states, Nebraska has strict rules about who’s eligible for UI and who isn’t. Under normal circumstances, you would need to meet the following conditions in order to file:
- You’ve been made unemployed through no fault of your own
- You are able and available to work
- You actively seeking employment
- You have worked in Nebraska for the past twelve to eighteen months
- You are authorized to work in the US
- You meet minimum income expectations
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Nebraska has now dropped the work search requirement. Providing you’ve lost your employment or have been asked to reduce your working hours (with a corresponding reduction in pay) because of any of the following reasons, you could still be eligible for UI without having to prove you are actively seeking employment:
- You have coronavirus or have been ordered to quarantine after exposure
- You are the primary caregiver to someone who has coronavirus or who has been ordered to quarantine after exposure
- You have been laid off
- You are unable to get to work because of school closures, public transportation shutdowns, or shelter in place orders.
Further to the CARES Act of March 27, those who would not normally be eligible for support because of their status (namely, the self-employed, freelancers, and gig workers) are now invited to apply. Regardless of the circumstances of your unemployment, you will still need to have earned enough over the past 18 months to meet minimum income requirements. Consider your income in the first 4 of the last 5 completed quarters: providing you earned at least $4,324 over the entire period, and at least $1,850 in one quarter and at least $800 in another, you’ll qualify for support on the condition all other eligibility requirements are met.
Gathering the Information
As part of your application for UI, you’ll need to verify certain personal information, along with details relating to your work history and earnings. Before you begin, it’s worth making sure you have all the required information to hand. This includes:
- Your birth date
- Your Social Security number
- A best contact number during working hours
- Your mailing address
- Your driver’s license or state ID
- Your account information should you prefer your UI to be paid by bank deposit
Your employment history to cover the last 2 years, to include details of each employer, your occupation, gross earning, last working date, and reason for leaving In addition to the above, you may also be asked to provide form SF-8 and SF50 in the instance you’ve worked as a federal employee during the last eighteen months, your union hall number if applicable, and form DD 214 in the instance you’ve served in the military during the last eighteen months. Finally, if you’ve received (or expect to receive) any severance or holiday pay from your last employer, you’ll be asked to declare it.
Filing the Claim
Unemployment applicants in Nebraska can file their UI application by visiting the Nebraska Department of Labor website and selecting “File a Claim” to register an account and begin the application.
As eligibility for UI begins from the date you file your claim, rather than your last working day, it’s important to file as soon as possible after becoming unemployed. Once you’ve filed your initial claim, you’ll need to start requesting weekly payments by filing during each week of unemployment. Dependent on your circumstances, you may also be required to register for employment services – however, given the current situation, this will not be required in all cases (e.g. if you have been temporarily laid off and given a return to work date, or if COVID prevents you from working).
Checking your Entitlement
Once the DOL receives your claim, they’ll begin assessing your eligibility. Prior to reaching a decision, they’ll send a Monetary Determination confirming how much you’ll likely receive in UI providing your application is accepted. As Fool.com notes, the most you’ll be eligible to receive is $440, although the actual figure will be based on your previous earnings.
Further to the introduction of the CARES Act on March 27, UI claimants are also entitled to an additional $600 per week on top of what the state allows for up to 4 months, or until the end of July (whichever comes first). The DOL will calculate and backdate the amount you are owed and pay it alongside your state entitlement. Under normal circumstances, Nebraska will allow you to claim benefits for a total of 26 weeks in any one-year period. However, the CARES Act extends this by a further 13 weeks, allowing you to receive UI for up to a total of 39 weeks.
Appealing the Decision
Once the Department of Labor has completed its review of your claim, they’ll send you a Notice of Determination confirming your eligibility. If you’ve been successful, payments will begin to be made by either direct bank transfer or pre-loaded cash card (depending on what you requested in your application) in around 3 weeks. If you don’t agree with the decision, you can file an appeal within 20 days of the mailing date of the determination. Full details on the appeals process will be contained within the determination.