1. Is the Unemployment Insurance tax deducted from my paycheck?
No, deductions are not made from your paycheck. Arkansas employers who are covered by Arkansas Division of Workforce Services law are required to pay a quarterly tax on their payroll. This tax funds your benefits.
2. Do I ever get paid for the Valid Waiting Period Week?
No, the law requires that each individual serve a Valid Waiting Period for the first eligible week claimed. Although you do not get paid for this week, the maximum benefit amount is not reduced or affected.
3. Do I have to serve another waiting period if I reopen my claim?
No, only one Valid Waiting Period is required for the life of a claim. However, once a claim expires, and another new claim is filed, another waiting period must be served.
4. Do I report gross or net earnings when I am claiming weekly benefits?
You must report the number of hours you work and the gross wages earned for each week claimed. Earnings must be reported for the week in which they are earned – not the week in which you get paid.
5. I get paid for production work, and I don’t know how much my gross wages are going to be until I get my paycheck. How can I claim the week correctly if I don’t know how much my paycheck is going to be?
If you are not sure what your pay will be for a week, you must wait until you actually get paid to claim that week. DWS Regulation 14(a) provides that, in the case of partial unemployment, an individual has 14 days from the date the wages are paid to claim the week.
6. If I find a part-time job while I am drawing unemployment insurance, do I have to report the wages I make each week?
Yes, you must report the number of hours worked and the gross wages for every week you work and claim, no matter where you are employed.
7. What if I disagree with the decision the DWS makes concerning my eligibility for unemployment benefits?
Either interested party (claimant or employer) who disagrees with a decision issued by DWS may file an appeal. The Appeal Tribunal is a separate entity that will hear your case and render a new decision. The next level of appeal is the Board of Review, followed by the Arkansas Court of Appeals.
8. Do I have to take a job that pays less than what I made at my last job?
Individuals who are required to look for work must be willing to accept suitable work when offered. The suitability of a job can depend on many factors – such as how much the new job pays, how long you have been unemployed, and what you were paid at your last job. The law does not specify that the pay must be the same as the last employment.
9. Can I go to school while I draw my unemployment benefits?
Arkansas Law requires that a person be able and available for work while drawing unemployment and be willing to accept suitable work if offered. However, exemptions from work search can occur if you are attending school full-time and are enrolled in a training course that is approved by the Division Director; or if you are attending school full-time in an approved Federal program such as the Trade Act. Check with your local office to determine if you qualify for any type of exemption.
If you do not qualify for work search exemption, you may still be eligible for benefits while attending school. There are several factors considered when determining if school attendance will affect a person’s eligibility for Unemployment Insurance Benefits. The most important factor is your availability for work. In other words, your schooling must not interfere with making your minimum number of assigned job contacts or your ability to accept work.
10. What happens when my benefits run out?
If you have not become re-employed by the time your unemployment insurance is exhausted (drawn out), contact your local office to determine if or when you might qualify for additional benefits. You may qualify for another regular claim for benefits or extended benefits if we are in an extended benefits period.
Even if you are not able to establish a new claim, please continue to visit your local DWS office so they can assist you as much as possible in your search for new employment.
11. What is an extended benefits period?
The State of Arkansas enacted an Extended Benefits Program in 1971. The Extended Benefits program provides that additional benefits can be paid to qualified individuals in a period of high unemployment. You can draw your extension as long as you are unemployed and meet the eligibility requirements, do not exceed the maximum benefit amount, and do not qualify for any other type of regular Unemployment Compensation.
12. How can I calculate my base period?
Your benefit amount is determined by how much you worked and earned during a 12-month period called the “Base Period.” A Base Period is defined as the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters. There are 4 quarters in a calendar year:
The 1st quarter is January, February, and March
The 2nd quarter is April, May, and June
The 3rd quarter is July, August, and September
The 4th quarter is October, November, and December
To calculate your base period, first determine the quarter in which you filed your initial claim.
If you filed your initial claim in the 1st quarter of 2009, your Base Period is the 4th quarter of 2007 through the 3rd quarter of 2008.
If you filed your initial claim in the 2nd quarter of 2009, your Base Period is the 1st quarter of 2008 through the 4th quarter of 2008.
If you filed your initial claim in the 3rd quarter of 2009, your Base Period is the 2nd quarter of 2008 through the 1st quarter of 2009.
If you filed your initial claim in the 4th quarter of 2009, your Base Period is the 3rd quarter of 2008 through the 2nd quarter of 2009.
Your new claim’s benefit amount will be based on where you worked during this 12-month period.
13. Do I have to pay Income Tax on my Unemployment Benefits?
Yes, Unemployment Benefits are subject to Federal Income Taxes. The Arkansas DWS offers claimants the option of having 10% of your weekly benefit amount deducted for the payment of Federal Income Tax. Beginning with payments issued in 2018, these payments must also be reported on your Arkansas state income tax return.
14. Can I change my mind about having federal taxes withheld once I make my decision?
Yes. After you have made your original decision on your withholding status, you may change your decision one time during your benefit year. Contact your local office if you wish to make this change.
15. Is the 10% deducted before or after other deductions are taken out of my benefits?
The 10% reduction will only be made after amounts are deducted and withheld for any UI overpayments, child support obligations, or any other amounts required to be deducted and withheld under DWS law. If, after these priority deductions have been made, there is not enough money left over to pay the income tax amount in full, then no income tax deduction will be made during that week.
16. I think I am going to be laid off next month; can I find out now how much I will draw in Unemployment Benefits?
No, that information is not available until you actually complete an initial claim application. The information you enter is matched against our files according to your social security number. The data is processed to determine whether or not you qualify for benefits in Arkansas and how much you will be able to draw. We will then mail to you a Notice of Monetary Determination, which will tell you whether you have enough wage credits to establish a claim.
17. What is a “week of unemployment”?
A “week of unemployment” or a “continued claim week” is the same as a regular calendar week – it begins on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. and ends on the following Saturday at midnight.
18. How long after I complete my claim form do I have to wait to start claiming weekly benefits?
To allow time for processing your new claim for benefits, it is a good idea to wait at least three (3) days after Saturday midnight of the week in which you submitted your online claim form before trying to claim that first week.
Week 1: Submit your online claim form any day (1-7) of the week:
The first week of unemployment ends at midnight on Saturday (Day 7)
Week 2: Wait for three (3) more days:
Call in your first weekly claim on Wednesday (Day 11)
Subsequent weeks can be claimed as soon as each week has ended (see question 17).
19. When can I expect to start receiving unemployment benefits?
Remember that the first week claimed after establishing a new claim serves as a Valid Waiting Period, (provided you are otherwise eligible), and no benefits are paid for that week. The earliest payment of benefits begins with the second week claimed. However, payment of benefits can vary depending on your circumstances and whether there are any barriers or issues that must be resolved. Consult the UI Information Handbook for more detailed instructions.
20. What is a PIN?
PIN stands for “Personal Identification Number.”
21. I am currently an inmate or have been recently released from incarceration. Am I eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?
Generally speaking, individuals who have been out of the workforce for more than nine months will not have sufficient wage credits to monetarily establish an unemployment insurance claim. After being released, inmates that believe they may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits may report to their nearest DWS local office to file an unemployment insurance claim. Consult the Inmate Brochure for more information regarding former inmates and the unemployment insurance program.
22. I lost my Unemployment Insurance Handbook. How do I get another copy?
You can pick up a replacement copy at any DWS local office, or you may view/print one by clicking here.