The Complete Guide to Unemployment Benefits in ArkansasUpdated March 14, 2023 Unemployment
Unemployment benefits in Arkansas are compensation the government provides to unemployed workers who have been laid off from their jobs due to circumstances outside their control. Examples include the economic setbacks brought about by the pandemic, retrenchment, cost-cutting, and relocation. Ultimately, this Arkansas unemployment benefit aims to provide a reliable source of income for jobless individuals as they look for new employment.
In this article, we’ll explore what these benefits entail for people in Arkansas and how to apply to obtain such compensation.
Understanding Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas
Unemployment compensation is common in many developed nations and developing economies. For example, in the United States, both the federal government and the individual government of each state manage the unemployment compensation system.
Unemployment benefits generally depend on the percentage of a worker’s pay over the previous 52 weeks. However, the calculations vary per state. Regardless, payroll taxes on the state and federal level fund the unemployment benefit amount.
During the height of the pandemic, the federal and state governments initiated several unemployment supplement programs to support those who have lost their jobs.
For example, on March 11, 2021, the newly elected President Biden approved a law called the American Rescue Plan which involved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. The law even added a $300 weekly federal unemployment assistance to further aid those in need. However, due to shortages in the labor market, Arkansas decided to end the extra supplement four months early.
Along with the relief stipend, Arkansas also ended the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
For more information, the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services continues to provide updates on unemployment benefits filing information.
Eligibility for Unemployment Benefit According to Arkansas Law
The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) handles all unemployment benefits in the state. As such, they determine the eligibility of an individual. According to them, the applicants who are eligible for the benefits must meet the following requirements:
- An individual must have earned a minimum wage before being unemployed
- An individual must not have been laid off as a result of any fault of their own
- An individual must be available and able to work and must be seeking employment actively
To understand this further, let’s take a look at each scenario in detail.
Had at Least Minimum Wage Earnings
Similar to other states, Arkansas looks at your work history and income within a certain “base period” to determine your eligibility for unemployment. In this state, the base period spans between four to five quarters before the application has been filed.
You must have obtained at least minimum wage income in two or more quarters during the base period to qualify. Likewise, your earnings during these periods must exceed 35 times your weekly claim.
Had Been Laid off Due to No Fault of Their Own
Another qualifying factor for the unemployment insurance program is the reason for being laid off. In Arkansas, much like in other states, you must not have been at fault for your layoff to be eligible for unemployment benefits. These reasons include the following:
- Being laid off or losing your job as a result of a reduction in force or downsizing
- Being fired because you lack the skills to properly perform the job
- Quitting a position because you believe that you had no other choice but to do so (e.g., experiencing sexual harassment, terrible working conditions, or unethical values)
- Quitting for personal reasons, including disability or health conditions (for temporary disability benefits), relocating, or escaping domestic violence
Are Currently Available for Work
To qualify for unemployment insurance in Arkansas, you must be available to work, able to work, and are currently looking for suitable employment. That said, if someone offers you a position, you must accept it.
According to Arkansas law, suitable work refers to any position that’s similar to what you have done in the past or any job opening that you have experience and training in.
Additionally, to be “available” for work, you must not have any restrictions hindering you from going to the office and performing your duties.
To ensure that you’re actively looking for a position, you must register through the DWS employment services. They will tell you how many contacts you must accomplish each week and require you to report them once you receive your Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.
Ways To Apply for Unemployment Benefits
Based on this information, if you gather that you are eligible for Arkansas unemployment benefits, you can apply for Arkansas unemployment insurance by following these steps.
1. File the Initial Claims Through EZARC
If you want to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, you can do so by using EZARC (also known as Easy Arkansas Claims). Once you’ve completed this step, your personal information should be mailed directly to you.
2. Provide Identification
You need to verify your identity by uploading identification on the confirmation page or personally presenting your ID (such as your Social Security number) at a DWS office.
3. Register for Work Online
After you file your claim and provide proof of your identity, you can register for work using Arkansas JobLink.
4. File Your Weekly Claims
Finally, you must file your claims weekly through ArkNet or ArkLine. Failure to file your weekly claim may lead to a delay in or denial of your payments.
Amount and Duration of Benefits in Arkansas
Once you finish filing your unemployment claim, you can start earning your extended benefits. The weekly benefit amount is only 1/26 of your earnings during the most lucrative quarter of your base period. At present, the minimum rate is $81 per week, and the maximum is capped at $451 per week. You can compute yours using the Arkansas unemployment calculator.
You can receive benefits for up to 25 weeks in terms of duration. However, additional weeks may be granted if employment security is low and the unemployment rate is high.
It is clear how Arkansas protects employee rights and ensures that each Arkansas resident receives the financial support they need. With this guide, we have given you enough information to know more about how unemployment benefits work and who qualifies for them.
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