Being unemployed is an unpleasant experience, especially if you do not have savings to replace your income. If you are unemployed and live in Arkansas, then you can seek unemployment benefits from the Unemployment Division of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS).
First, to qualify for unemployment you cannot be out of work because of your choice or fault. So, if you quit your job, you need to have a good reason as to why you did. If you were fired, you could not have been fired for breaking rules or not doing your job.
While it does not matter what kind of job you had, you can only get unemployment benefits if your former employer paid unemployment insurance taxes. You also must have earned money in the last 2 quarters of your base period. Your total base period has to equal 35 times your weekly benefit amount. You also cannot be involved in a labor dispute and have to be ready and able to work. For each of your children who is under 18 and living with you, you can receive an extra $24 per week. Finally, unlike other states that encourage people to apply as soon as they become unemployed, you have to be out of work for at least one week before you can file for unemployment in Arkansas. This is called the “valid waiting period.”
You can apply either in person at any Department of Workforce Services office or by mail by picking up a form at any public building. You can also apply online through EZARC.
To apply, you will need to have your social security number, your name and mailing address, the name and address of your last employer, and your last day of work.
If you were already on unemployment and then quit using it, you can reopen your claim. You can reopen your claim online through EZARC. When you do restart your claim, you do not have to go through another valid waiting period.
The longest that unemployment can last in Arkansas is 25 weeks. The minimum amount you can receive is $81 per week, while the most you can get is $451 per week.
While you are receiving unemployment, you need to be able and available to work. You must be actively seeking work and contacting a certain number of employers every week. On either the 13th or 19th week of unemployment, you have to report how many work contacts you have made.
If you still do not have a job after the 25 weeks of benefits, you may be able to apply for additional assistance in the form of Extended Benefits. However, Extended Benefits are only given during periods of high unemployment throughout the state. You can continue receiving financial assistance through Extended Benefits as long as you are still unemployed, meet the requirements, and do not go past the maximum benefits amount.
Even if you do not qualify for Extended Benefits, or if these benefits are not currently being offered, you should remain in contact with the DWS office. The staff can help you find a job or obtain training necessary for a new line of work.
You can file an appeal with Appeal Tribunal within 20 days if you disagree with the Department of Workforce Service’s decision about your benefits. If the Appeal Tribunal agrees with the decision made by the Department of Workforce Service, you can follow up with the Board of Review, but you only have another 20-day deadline. Finally, if you still disagree with the outcome, you can file another appeal with the Arkansas Court of Appeals.
It is important to find the right employment lawyer in Arkansas to assist you when working on your unemployment claim. If you have to appeal a decision, you will have a better chance of winning if you have a lawyer helping you.