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State of Alaska > DOLWD > Employment Security > Unemployment Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions
 
Filing for Unemployment Insurance
Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance
Continuing Eligibility
Deductible Income

Filing for Unemployment Insurance
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WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO ESTABLISH ELIGIBILITY FOR BENEFITS?
Generally, the three major criteria are:

  1. Wage credits from an employer that is subject to unemployment insurance laws (covered employment).
  2. A total gross income of at least $2,500 earned over two calendar quarters of your base period.
  3. Continuing eligibility for each week claimed. This includes being able, available, and actively seeking full time work.

WHAT IS COVERED EMPLOYMENT?
Covered employment is work done for an employer who is bound by Alaska Statute to pay an Unemployment Insurance Tax for their workers. One fast way to answer this question is to find out whether your employer is registered with the Alaska Department of Labor. If they are, they should have a certificate posted identifying them as a registered employer with the Alaska Department of Labor or the Employment Security Division. You might also ask your payroll unit if your wages are subject to unemployment insurance, as most occupations are.

WHAT IS A BASE PERIOD?
The Regular Base Period for Alaska is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the quarter in which a claim for benefits is filed. For example, a claim established in May would have a Base Period of January through December of the previous year. Wages earned during the base period determine both the amount and duration of an individual's unemployment insurance benefits. The table below shows how a regular base period is determined.

Regular Base Period

If you do not have sufficient wages in the base period for an eligible claim, you will be placed on an alternate base period which is the last four completed calendar quarters before the quarter in which you file your claim.

Alternate Base Period

WHEN SHOULD I APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS?
Individuals should apply for benefits as soon as they are unemployed or working less than full-time. Weekly benefits are not paid retroactively, so the sooner you file, the sooner you may be eligible for benefits.

HOW DO I APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE?
You can file an initial claim for unemployment benefits two ways, online or calling a UI Claim Center. To file online login to myalaska.state.ak.us and click on “Unemployment Insurance Benefits”.

If you call, a UI claim center representative can take your information over the phone. After you have opened your UI claim, you can file for biweekly benefits online at the above website or over the phone by calling our automated telephone claim filing system known as VICTOR.


WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED WHEN I APPLY?
Whether filing for benefits online or by telephone, you will be asked to provide basic information about yourself such as:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social security number
  • Name, address, and telephone number of your last employer
  • Your last day worked
  • Reason for leaving the job
  • Wages earned during the last week of employment
  • If you are not a US citizen or national, you will need your Alien Registration Number, expiration date and document type

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I FILE MY NEW CLAIM?
After your claim is filed, online or by telephone, you will be sent a monetary determination in the mail. A monetary determination indicates the amount of benefits you may be eligible to receive and how many weeks the benefits will last. It is important to remember that this notice advises you of your right to correct errors or omissions, and provides instructions on how to contact the Department to make corrections.

You will also receive an Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook, which you are required to read. Among other things, this handbook provides detailed instructions on how to file for bi-weekly benefits.

WHEN IS MY CLAIM EFFECTIVE?
New claims are effective Sunday of the week in which an individual files a claim for unemployment benefits on the Internet or contacts their Unemployment Insurance claim center. All new claims are subject to a “waiting week”. A waiting week is the first week in which a claimant is eligible to receive benefits on their new claim. You will not be paid benefits for your waiting week. However, you must file a claim for the week to receive waiting week credit and begin collecting benefits. There is no deduction from your initial entitlement when you file for your waiting week.

WHAT IS MY WEEKLY BENEFIT AMOUNT?
Your unemployment insurance benefits are based on the amount of wages earned during your base period. The benefits range from $56 - $370 per week.

WILL I BE ENTITLED TO ADDITIONAL BENEFITS FOR MY DEPENDENTS?
You may be eligible to receive an additional $24 per week, for each dependent child. A dependent child is defined as an unmarried child, stepchild, legally adopted child or court appointed legal ward. To be eligible for this allowance, your dependent must be under the age of 18 unless they have a long-term disability. You may claim up to three dependent children, for a maximum of $72 of dependent allowance per week.

WHAT IS A BENEFIT YEAR?
A benefit year is in effect for 52 weeks, sometimes 53 weeks, from the effective date of your claim (see above). A new (subsequent) claim cannot be filed until the first benefit year ends, even if benefits have exhausted prior to the benefit year end date. 

HOW LONG WILL I BE ABLE TO COLLECT UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS?
Your benefit year begins on Sunday of the week in which you file. Your claim is then active for 52 (sometimes 53) consecutive weeks. Duration of benefits is a minimum of 16 weeks and up to a maximum of 26 weeks. Your initial entitlement may last longer than the number of weeks indicated if you are working part time or on call and receiving partial benefits.

WHAT IF I EXHAUST MY BENEFITS BEFORE MY BENEFIT YEAR ENDS?
If you have exhausted all your benefits and you have a current benefit year, you may be eligible for Extended Benefits (EB) if it is available in Alaska. During times of high unemployment, Alaska has paid EB to those who have exhausted their regular benefits. EB can be paid when the unemployment rate reaches a certain percentage. These percentages are based off the Insured Unemployment Rate (IUR) and the Total Unemployment Rate (TUR). When EB becomes available, the Department issues a statewide news release and notifies potentially eligible claimants at the their last address of record. If EB is available, you will be able to file an application online by going to myalaska.state.ak.us and clicking on Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

HOW DO I FILE BIWEEKLY BENEFITS?
To file for benefits you can login to myalaska.state.ak.us and click on “Unemployment Insurance Benefits”. This will take you to a page where you can file for benefits. You can also file for benefits by calling the automated telephone claim filing system otherwise known as VICTOR. VICTOR can only be accessed with a personal identification number called a PIN, which you will set up during your first call to VICTOR.

WHEN DO I BEGIN FILING BIWEEKLY BENEFITS?
You will file for benefits every two weeks, biweekly. To determine the first two weeks to claim see the calendar below. On the calendar, the benefit year begins on the date marked “X.” You can find the beginning date of your benefit year on your monetary determination. The first two weeks to claim are weeks 1 and 2. The filing period to claim weeks 1 and 2 is shown in red (week 3). File online or call VICTOR during week 3 of your benefit year and every two weeks after that.

HOW DO I RECEIVE BENEFITS?
Providing that you are eligible for benefits in the weeks that you have claimed, a deposit will be made to your UI debit card the following business day after you file your biweekly claim. You may elect to have your benefits electronically deposited into your bank account using direct deposit. Login to myalaska.state.ak.us and click on ‘Unemployment Insurance Benefits’ to sign up for direct deposit. Or you may use our automated phone filing system, VICTOR, to enroll.

HOW DO I STOP FILING FOR BENEFITS?
You simply stop filing your bi-weekly claim certifications. You may stop claiming at any time during your benefit year.

HOW DO I RESTART MY CLAIM FOR BENEFITS?
If you have stopped claiming your benefits for three weeks or longer, you must reopen your existing unemployment claim on the Internet or by calling your UI claim center.

IS UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS TAXABLE INCOME?
Yes. Your unemployment insurance benefits are taxable income. You have the option of having 10% of your weekly benefits withheld by the department and routed to the Internal Revenue Service. The UI claim center representative will give you the option of having taxes withheld when you file your claim for benefits. You may choose to either begin or end having taxes withheld at any time during your benefit year, by contacting a claim center representative.
An IRS 1099 form will be mailed to your last address of record in January. This will show the total amount of benefits paid and the amount of income tax withheld. It is important to keep your address current with the department. Due to the confidential nature of correspondence being mailed from our office, the US Postal Service will not forward our mail, even if you have submitted a change of address. If you misplaced or did not receive a 1099, you can contact your Unemployment Insurance claim center to request a duplicate.

WHAT ABOUT PRIVACY AND SECURITY OF THE INFORMATION I PROVIDE?
The information collected as a result of your application for unemployment insurance cannot be disclosed to anyone except where authorized by Alaska or federal laws, by court order, or with your written consent. The confidential information you and your employer(s) provide may be used for any Department of Labor and Workforce Development business and may be shared with other state or federal agencies.

Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance
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WHAT IF I HAVE WORKED IN ANOTHER STATE?
You may be eligible for a combined wage claim. Any work you have done in another state during the last 18 months may be combined to establish a claim. Usually combining wages will result in a higher weekly benefit amount. It is important to advise a claim representative of any work you have done in another state so these wages can be electronically transferred to Alaska. After a review of your work history, one of our representatives will be able to give you the best option on where to file your claim.

WHAT IF I AM LIVING IN ANOTHER STATE, BUT HAVE WORKED IN ALASKA?
If all of your work in the last 18 months has been in Alaska, you will need to file a new claim for unemployment benefits on the Internet or by calling the Juneau UI claim center at:
1-888-252-2557.

CAN I COLLECT BENEFITS IF I AM NOT A UNITED STATES CITIZEN?
To collect UI benefits, aliens must establish that they were in satisfactory immigration status and authorized to work in the United States when earning the wages that their claim is based on. In addition, the claimant must provide proof that they remain in satisfactory immigration status and are authorized to work each week that benefits are claimed. The UI claim center will verify immigration status and work authorization through an electronic system maintained by the US Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services.

WHAT IF I HAVE WORKED FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?
Claims that are based on Federal employment are called UCFE (Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees). When workers separate from Federal employment, they receive a Standard Form 8 (SF8) that gives basic UI eligibility requirements, the FIC code for the employing agency, and the address that holds the wage and separation information. It is important to provide this document when establishing a claim.

CAN I COLLECT BENEFITS BASED ON MY MILITARY WAGES?
Yes. Ex-military personnel qualify for UI benefits in most situations. However, they will be required to mail or fax a copy of their DD214 to the claim centers. The DD214 is mailed to the service member at the time of separation.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM LAID OFF FROM MY JOB?
There is no penalty or reduction in UI benefits if you are laid off. Your employer will be sent a notice to verify that you were laid off.

WHAT IF I QUIT MY JOB OR WAS DISCHARGED BY MY EMPLOYER?
Generally speaking, a worker must be out of work through no fault of their own to be eligible for benefits without penalty. If it is determined that you voluntarily quit without good cause or you were discharged for misconduct, there will be a six week disqualification period. This disqualification will begin the first week you are unemployed and will continue through the following five weeks. In addition to the disqualification period, there will also be a three week reduction of payments and you will not be eligible for Extended Benefits.

WILL MY LAST EMPLOYER BE CONTACTED?
Your employer will be mailed a “Notice of Filing” which asks them to verify the reason you have stated as to why you are no longer working. This information is needed to determine your eligibility according to state law and regulations. If your job separation is due to a quit or discharge we will then obtain additional information from your employer regarding the circumstances surrounding your job separation. After all of the information is obtained you will receive a written determination regarding your eligibility for benefits. This determination will be mailed to your address of record. Each case is unique and will be determined individually.

Continuing Eligibility
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WHAT IS ABLE AND AVAILABLE?
You must be physically able to perform work in your usual occupation. If you are not able to work in your usual occupation, you may be asked to submit medical evidence of your ability to do other types of work.

You must also be available to accept full-time work in any occupation that is consistent with your prior training and experience. If you restrict hours, wages, or conditions of employment to a point which will limit your chance of obtaining work, it may be determined that you are not available for work.

WHAT IF I AM UNABLE TO ACCEPT WORK DUE TO AN ILLNESS OR INJURY?
You may be eligible for a 6-week medical waiver of availability based on the circumstances of your illness. You must also have filed for, and been eligible for benefits the week prior to your illness. If you become ill or injured while you are filing for benefits, you should contact your claim center and provide the necessary information as soon as possible.

WHAT IF I RELOCATE WHILE I AM COLLECTING BENEFITS?
It will be necessary to contact the UI claim center or reopen your claim via the Internet when you relocate. You will need to provide a change of address, as mail from our agency will not be forwarded by the US Postal Service. Once your claim is established in Alaska, you will continue to draw benefits from the State of Alaska until you have exhausted your claim, even if you relocate to a different state.

CAN I ATTEND SCHOOL WHILE COLLECTING BENEFITS?
Alaska does allow individuals to attend academic or vocational training in some specific situations. Each individual’s situation and training objective is evaluated before a decision can be made; it’s not possible to give a definite answer as to whether training would meet our criteria without specifics.

WILL I BE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS IF I AM TRAVELING?
Anytime you travel away from your residence, it must be reviewed. There are provisions in Alaska law that may allow travel for specific reasons, such as: searching for work, accept a definite offer of work, establish or return to your home following your discharge from the armed forces, attend the funeral of an immediate family member; and to seek medical attention that is not available in your area of residence.

DO I NEED TO REGISTER FOR WORK?
Depending on your circumstances, you may be required to register for work to be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. You will be notified at the time of filing if you need to register. If notified, you need to register and create a resume online in ALEXsys at
jobs.alaska.gov. Failure to do so will result in denial of your unemployment insurance benefits.

WHAT ARE REEMPLOYMENT SERVICES?
Once you file for and begin receiving unemployment benefits, you may be selected to participate in reemployment services. If selected, you will be notified of the requirement and given instructions by mail. Failure to participate in these services may result in a denial of your unemployment insurance benefits.

Deductible Income
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CAN I WORK AND COLLECT BENEFITS AT THE SAME TIME?
You may be eligible for full or partial benefits if you are less than fully employed during the week you are claiming and earned less than your excess earnings amount. Your excess earning amount is posted on your monetary determination that is mailed to you when you file your application for unemployment insurance benefits. You can also get your excess earnings amount by calling VICTOR or it can be determined by multiplying your weekly benefit amount by 1.3333, round off the cents and add $50.00.

HOW DO EARNINGS AFFECT MY BENEFITS?
If you earn $50 or less there will be no reduction in your benefits. There will be a .75 cent deduction for each dollar that you earn, over $50. You must report your earnings in the week that you actually earn the wages, even if you have not been paid.

HOW DO I REPORT MY EARNINGS?
Earnings are reported on your bi-weekly claim certification either online or on VICTOR.

The easiest way to calculate your gross earnings is to figure out how many hours you worked in the week you are claiming (Sunday through Saturday) and multiply the number of hours worked by your hourly rate of pay. This is your gross earnings. If you worked for more than one employer, you would add the two gross earnings together and report the total on your bi-weekly claim.

HOW WILL SELF EMPLOYMENT AFFECT MY BENEFITS?
To be eligible for unemployment insurance in Alaska, you must be able and available to accept full-time employment. You may be asked to provide information about your business and how much time you devote to your business. If you are self-employed, you must report your net earnings (subtract business expenses from your gross) for the week. Self-employment income is deducted on a dollar for dollar basis.

IS ANY INCOME OTHER THAN EARNINGS DEDUCTED?
First and foremost, all income, with the exception of Social Security, Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, and Income Tax Returns, must be reported when you are filing for benefits. Under certain conditions, severance or separation pay, pension, vacation or sick leave pay, bonus and back pay are deductible.

HOW WILL MY PENSION AFFECT MY BENEFITS?
Payments under any government or private retirement pension will be deductible from UI benefits if the pension is based on your work for a base period employer and that employer contributed to or maintained the pension plan. The amount deducted is based on the percentage of contribution made by the base period employer.

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Mailing Address:
Employment Security Division
Unemployment Insurance Program
PO Box 115509
Juneau, AK 99811-5509
 
Phone:
Fax:
(907) 465-5552
(907) 465-5573

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Page Updated April 12, 2011