Rhode Island Unemployment Questions
1. When and how can I apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits?
If you become unemployed you should file a claim within seven (7) days of your last day of employment to avoid jeopardizing or delaying your first payment. There are two ways to file a claim for UI; you can file online at https://uiclaims.state.ri.us/RI-ICS/intro/index.aspx?AC=yes or you can file over the phone by calling (401) 243-9100. If you're calling from out of state, the phone number is 1-866-557-0001. Monday is generally the busiest phone day of the week; if you call later in the week, your wait time may not be so long.
2. What information will I need to file my UI claim?
When you call to file an unemployment insurance claim you will need to provide your social security number and the full name, address and telephone number of all employers you have worked for in the last two years. If you are not a United States citizen, you must provide your alien registration number. A guide to help you prepare this information can be found here.
3. Am I eligible for UI benefits?
To qualify for UI benefits, you must meet certain earnings requirements. While these requirements are explained to you in detail, please do not use this information to try to determine your own eligibility.
If you are laid off we strongly urge you to apply for benefits. We will determine whether you qualify based on all the facts relating to your claim and notify you as quickly as possible. You must be unemployed through no fault of your own.
You must be able to work, available for work and searching for work. You must always be willing to accept a suitable job while you are claiming benefits.
4. What are the earnings requirements for UI benefits?
To be eligible for UI benefits, you must have been paid at least $8,880 in either your base period or an alternate base period (defined below). If you did not earn this amount, you may be eligible if you meet all of the following conditions:
1. You were paid at least $1480 in one of your base period quarters, and
2. You were paid total base period taxable wages of at least one and one-half times your highest single quarter earnings, and
3. You were paid total base period taxable wages of at least $2960.
Also, if you have had a previous claim, you must have worked again since filing that claim and must have been paid taxable wages of at least eighty times the R.I. minimum hourly wage of $7.40, or $592.
5. What is a base period?
The base period is the period we look at to determine if you have been paid sufficient wages to be monetarily eligible. Normally, your base period consists of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the starting date of your new claim. The calendar quarters are:
January 1 through March 31
April 1 through June 30
July 1 through September 30
October 1 through December 31
If wages from one of these quarters had to be used to establish a previous claim using the alternate base period, that quarter's wages cannot be used again to compute your current claim.
6. What is an alternate base period?
If you submit a new claim and you do not meet the minimum earnings requirements in the regular base period, we will re-compute your claim using an alternate base period. This period consists of the last four completed calendar quarters before the starting date of your claim. While you must still meet the same overall earnings requirements, the alternate base period will allow some of your more recent wages to be counted towards establishing your claim.
7. When does my claim begin?
Your claim will start with the Sunday of the week in which you first file your claim if you are totally unemployed or employed part-time and earn less than your benefit rate. This begins your Benefit Year. The Benefit Year is a 52 week period. In instances when a subsequent claim would cause base periods to overlap, the benefit year is 53 weeks. Any additional claims (refiles) you submit during this period will have the same Benefit Year.
8. When will I receive my first payment?
Most eligible customers receive their first payment during their third week of unemployment.
9. Why didn't I receive a payment for the first week I was on UI?
You must serve a waiting period at the start of your new claim. The 7 day period is a Sunday through Saturday in which you are: totally unemployed or you work a partial week and your earnings are less than your Benefit Rate. In either case you would be entitled to a waiting period for that week.
10. If I file another claim do I have to serve another waiting period?
You must serve a Waiting Period only once during each Benefit Year.
11. How much will I receive? How much will I receive for dependency allowance?
Your weekly benefit rate will be equal to 4.62% of the wages paid to you in the highest quarter of your Base Period. By law, a maximum weekly benefit rate is determined annually. It is equal to 67% of the average weekly wage of all workers covered by the Employment Security Act. Your weekly benefit rate remains the same throughout your benefit year.
Effective 7/1/10, our minimum is $68.00 and maximum is $551.00, not including dependency allowance.
If you have dependent children under 18 years of age you may be entitled to a dependency allowance. Handicapped children over 18 may also qualify for the allowance.
The dependency allowance is limited to 5 dependents and is equal to 5% of your weekly benefit rate for each dependent. There is a $15 minimum per dependent.
The dependency allowance established at the start of your benefit year remains the same even if the number of children should change during the year. (If 2 or more parties make claim for the same dependent for the same week, the person who has physical custody receives the allowance.)
12. How long can I collect?
The duration of your claim is equal to 36% of your total base period wages divided by your basic weekly benefit rate (not including dependent's allowance).
The most you are allowed to collect is an amount equal to 26 full weeks. You may claim these weeks any time you are unemployed during your benefit year.
13. Why is my UI payment less than my full benefit amount?
IF YOU WORK PART OF A WEEK: You must report all wages earned for any week in which you claim benefits.
If you worked less than full time and your gross wages are less than your weekly benefit rate, you should qualify for a partial benefit payment as well as a partial earnings incentive.
14. What are lag benefits?
If you return to work in the middle of a work week, you may also be paid a lag payment. The lag payment would be 1/5th of your benefit rate for each work day preceding your return to work date.