Since March, almost 40 million workers across the US have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID crisis. The unemployment rate may be slowly starting to taper off, but for millions, the idea of returning to work still seems a far-off prospect. In Vermont, the situation is much the same as it in most states, with thousands of residents facing either a reduction in hours or complete unemployment. If you’re among those that have been made unemployed through no fault of your own, you could be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Not everyone will qualify for unemployment (as with most states, Vermont reviews all unemployment claims against strict eligibility requirements) but for those that do, it could be a lifeline. To find out how you could benefit, read on for our guide on how to file for unemployment in Vermont.
Who’s Eligible to File for Unemployment in Vermont?
Vermont, like every other state, measures each unemployment claim against strict eligibility criteria. Ultimately, you won’t know for certain whether you’re eligible until you apply, but as a general guide, you’ll need to:
- Have lost your job through no fault of your own
- Be legally permitted to work in the US
- Have worked in Vermont during the last 18 months (if you live in Vermont but usually work out of state, file in the state in which you most recently worked)
- Be ready and willing to work
- Be actively looking for new employment
Have earned enough over the base period (the earliest four of the last five complete quarters before you filed your claim) to meet minimum income requirements. This means you’ll need to have earned at least $2,386 in the highest-paid quarter of the base period, and at least 40% of that amount in the remaining three quarters Since the CARES Act was introduced in March, Vermont has removed the work search requirement in certain situations. If the below circumstances apply, you might still be eligible for benefits (providing you meet all other eligibility requirements) without having to demonstrate that you are seeking new employment:
- You’ve been advised by a medical professional to self-quarantine after exposure to COVID, and have a return to work date within 10 weeks of your last working day
- Your employer has closed operations temporarily or placed you on furlough with a specified return to work date
- You are the primary caregiver to someone who has been placed in medically ordered self-isolation after exposure to COVID
- If you are a freelancer, contractor or self-employed person who would not normally be eligible to claim support, you may now be eligible to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if your income has been adversely affected as a result of COVID.
How Can I File for Unemployment in Vermont?
To avoid any delays in benefits being received, file as soon as possible after becoming unemployed, and ideally, within 3 days of your last working day. Start by gathering all the information you’ll need as part of your claim. This includes your SSN, your driving license or privilege number, your alien registration number if you aren’t a citizen of the US, your employment history for the past 18 months (to include all employer contact details, length of service, wage, occupation, and reason for separation), your contact address and a telephone number, and, providing you want your benefits to be paid by bank deposit rather than debit card, your banking information. Former federal employees and those who’ve served in the military may be required to provide additional documentation on request. Once you’ve gathered the required information, you can either file online at the Department of Labor’s UI portal (https://vermont.force.com/DOLClaim/s/) or by calling 877-214-3330 between 8:15 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays or Saturday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. EDT.
The application is straightforward, but be sure to complete all information as fully and accurately as possible – if the Department of Labor need to contact you to request any information for missing or incomplete fields, it may cause an unnecessary delay in payment. After you’ve completed the initial claim, the department will begin assessing your eligibility. While their review is ongoing, and for the duration of your unemployment, you’ll need to make weekly claim certifications. As payments are conditional on these weekly claims being made, any delay or failure to complete a claim may result in payment being denied for the skipped week.
How Much Will I Get?
As Nola notes, the maximum amount of weekly benefits amount (WBA) in Vermont is set at $513. Your actual entitlement will depend on your earnings during the base period. To estimate your WBA, either divide the total wages over your two highest-earning quarters by 45, or plug in your data on the online calculator at fileunemployment.org and let it do the hard work for you. In addition to your WBA, you can also expect to receive a supplementary payment of $600 per week. Introduced as part of the CARES Act in March, the payment is intended to relieve some of the financial burden caused by COVID. The Department of Labor will calculate your entitlement to the supplement automatically, so there’s no need to enter any additional claim or application to benefit.
How Long Will I Receive Unemployment?
The standard length of time benefits can be collected in Vermont is 26 weeks. However, this has now been extended by an additional 13 weeks by the CARES Act. The total that can therefore be claimed is currently set at 39 weeks.
Can I Appeal if My Claim is Denied?
Once the Department of Labor has reviewed your claim, they’ll issue a Notice of Determination stating your eligibility, along with confirmation of the number of weeks you can claim. If your claim is turned down, you can file an appeal within 30 days by mailing or faxing an appeals form to the Appeals Department of the Vermont DOL.