Nearly 40 million US workers have been made unemployed since COVID began. The numbers may be tapering off as the re-opening process gets into its final stages, but we’re by no means out of the woods yet. In Utah, the situation is much the same as it is elsewhere. Since March 14, almost 170,000 Utah workers have filed for unemployment, a figure that represents 11.5% of the workforce. For those that have lost their job as a result of the crisis, finding new unemployment is obviously a top priority. Until then, Unemployment Insurance benefits, at least for those that are eligible, can provide some much-needed financial relief. If you’ve recently lost your job or had your hours reduced, here’s how to apply for unemployment in Utah.
Who Can File for Unemployment in Utah?
In Utah, the Department of Workforce Services is responsible for overseeing unemployment benefits. Like all states, applicants will need to meet certain eligibility requirements in order to apply. If you’re a new claimant, expect to demonstrate:
- That you’ve been made unemployed through no personal fault
- You’re legally authorized to work in the USA
- You’ve previously worked in Utah (if you worked in another state, file in that state regardless of the fact you live in Utah)
- You’re ready and able to work and are actively searching for new employment
You earned sufficient wages during your previous employment to meet minimum income requirements. You’ll need to have earned at least $3,700 over the entire base period (i.e. the first 4 of the last 5 completed quarters), have earned in a minimum of 2 quarters, and earned at least 1.5 times the wages you earned in your highest quarter over the entire base period. In light of the COVID situation, the work search requirement has been relaxed in specific cases. If you’ve been ordered to quarantine after exposure to COVID, have tested positive to COVID, are the primary caregiver to someone in the same situation, or have been furloughed, you could still be eligible.
In a further change, freelancers, contractors and the self-employed are now eligible for relief under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). If you’re not sure if you’re eligible for unemployment, file anyway. The sooner you apply after becoming unemployed, the fewer benefits you risk losing – don’t worry about contacting the Department of Workforce Services to check your eligibility beforehand, as until they view your claim in full, they won’t be able to make an assessment.
How Do I File for Unemployment in Utah?
Before you start your claim, gather all the information you’ll need as part of your application. This includes your SSN, alien registration number if you’re not a US citizen, details of all the employers you’ve worked for during the last 18 months (expect to provide their name, address, contact number, dates of employ and reason for separating), and your bank details if you’d like your benefits to be paid directly into your account. If you’ve worked for the government or the military at any time during the last 18 months, additional information might be required.
Once you’ve got all the required information to hand, you can proceed to file your claim online at Workforce Services Claim Filing. You also have the option to file by phone on one of the below numbers between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM from Monday to Friday.
- Salt Lake County: (801) 526-4400
- Utah County: (801) 375-4067
- Weber and North Davis Counties: (801) 612-0877
- Other counties or out of Utah: 1-888-848-0688
The application is relatively straightforward, but you can expect to spend around 30 minutes completing all the required fields. Once you’ve completed your initial claim, you’ll need to start making weekly claims for payment either online or by phone. The weekly claims are much easier and quicker to complete than the initial claim but it’s absolutely vital you remember to complete them – failure to certify may result in you not being eligible for payment for the missed week.
How Much Will I Get?
Your weekly benefits amount (WBA) will be determined by how much you earned during the highest-earning quarter of the base period. As Nolo confirms, you’ll receive 1/26 of your average wage during the quarter, minus $5, up to a maximum value of $496. Although you can estimate your entitlement in advance using tools such as the benefits calculator at fileunemployment.com, note that this will be an estimate only: once Workforce Services has calculated your entitlement, they’ll issue a Monetary Determination within a few days of your claim stating the exact amount you’ll be entitled to if all other eligibility checks are in order.
Thanks to the CARES Act, unemployment applicants now stand to receive an additional $600 per week on top of what the state allows. You don’t need to apply for this supplement in addition to your initial claim: Workforce Services will simply calculate your entitlement based on the information provided in your UI claim and pay this alongside your state WBA, retrospective to the end of March.
How Long Can I Collect Unemployment?
Typically, unemployment applicants in Utah can collect for a minimum of 10 weeks and a maximum of 26. Under the provisions of the CARES Act, this has been extended by an additional 13 weeks, taking the total claimable period to 39 weeks.
What Happens if My Claim is Denied?
Once Workforce Services has completed their review of your claim, they’ll issue a Notice of Determination confirming your eligibility along with the number of eligible weeks you can collect. If you disagree with the determination, you have the option to appeal the decision within 15 days. Once the department receives your appeal, they’ll contact you with a hearing date at which you can present any information or evidence you have that suggests the initial determination was incorrect. If you disagree with the outcome of the hearing, a further appeal can be made to the Workforce Appeals Board within 30 days of the second determination.