The purpose of Unemployment Insurance (UI) is to provide monetary assistance to eligible claimants during the times of unemployment. Eligible claimants for unemployment benefits in Oklahoma are selected by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC).
The UI benefits is an interim monetary income given to those who have lost their jobs for no fault of their own. It is to help such individuals during their phase of transition as they try to get other employment opportunities.
In this page, you will find more information regarding the Oklahoma unemployment benefits, such as how to apply for benefits, eligibility requirements, maintaining eligibility, and much more.
UI Benefits Amount in Oklahoma
The UI benefit amount depends on the applicant’s wages in the base period. You can use the Oklahoma unemployment calculator to determine the approximate UI weekly benefits amount that you might receive.
The first step to applying for UI in Oklahoma is to read and thoroughly understand the eligibility criteria to qualify for benefits. The requirements are branched out into three categories- monetary eligibility, job-separation requirements, and maintaining eligibility after qualifying for benefits.
As soon as you file the initial application for unemployment benefits in Oklahoma, you will receive a ‘Monetary Determination’ letter from OESC. The following information will be made available on the Monetary Determination letter:
Your employers who paid unemployment taxes on your wages during your base period
The start date of your benefit year will be mentioned in the determination letter. The base year begins on the Sunday of the week you file your initial claim and ends exactly in a year’s time
Your weekly benefit amount (WBA)
Your maximum benefit amount (MBA)
Messages on your eligibility or overpayments on a prior claim
In order to receive the Monetary Determination letter from the OESC, you must have gained monetary eligibility for UI benefits. To do so, you must meet the following requirements:
Have earned a minimum of $1,500 during your base period
The total wages earned must be one and one-half times your high quarter
In Oklahoma, your Weekly Benefits Amount (WBA) will be decided on the basis of the wages you earned in your highest-earning quarter. Your WBA will be 1/23rd of your highest earning quarter. The minimum WBA given will not be less than $16, and the maximum WBA receivable is capped at $520 as of 2019.
For instance, if you earned $7000 in your highest-earning quarter, your WBA will be ($7000/23) $304.34. If in the event, your income is $14,000, your WBA will be $520 (although 14000/23 is $608.69, the maximum WBA receivable in Oklahoma is $520).
Once you establish your monetary eligibility, you will be asked to state the reason for separating from the previous organization you worked in. The reason for job separation is a crucial parameter to gain qualification for unemployment benefits in Oklahoma.
It must be noted that you may be monetarily eligible, but may still fail to qualify for Oklahoma unemployment benefits for other reasons. One of the crucial conditions to be remembered is that you must have separated from your previous organization due to no fault of your own. If you separated from your previous organization based on your own will or if you were fired due to your own actions, you will not be qualified for UI benefits.
The OESC groups the reason for separation under main titles-
Discarded or Fired
Quitting your job
You may gain eligibility for the payment of unemployment benefits if you were discharged or fired from your previous job. The OESC will launch an investigation to inquire about the reason for your job separation. If it is found that the reason for discharging or firing you from your previous organization is misconduct, you shall be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits in Oklahoma.
The following are some of the reasons that are considered as misconduct in Oklahoma:
Any act by the employee resulting in a substantial breach of the employee’s duties as dictated in the contract of employment
Uninformed or unapproved absenteeism
Any act perpetrated by the employee that would endanger the health, property, and/or life of self or others
Concrete proof against the employee for being dishonest or concealing crucial information relating to the organization
Employee indulging in unethical, immoral and illegal activities, propelling the company to offload the employee
You may stand a chance to qualify for unemployment benefits if you left the job on your own. You must, however, prove that you had a good cause to leave the organization. Good causes may include:
Working condition of the organization has deteriorated so bad that it has become harmful or detrimental for personal health
Unfair treatment by the employer, creating a difficult workplace environment
Not receiving timely remuneration for work
Note that the department may verify with your employer the cause of your job separation. If your statement and your employer’s statement are found to be contradictory, the department may put your application on hold.
Gaining monetary eligibility and establishing an acceptable reason for separating from the previous organization will help you qualify for UI benefits. However, you may still be disqualified if you fail to follow all the required procedures during the benefit week.
Some of the reasons that may lead to the disqualification of unemployment benefits are:
You are not able to work or were unavailable for work during the benefit period
You refused a suitable job offer or referral to a suitable offer without reason
You have failed to participate in the prescribed reemployment services
You have failed to look for work in the benefit weeks
You have not met a minimum of two employers as a part of the prescribed work search requirements
You’ve concealed the fact that you’ve found work
You’ve concealed your sources of income
You’re not a citizen of the United States and have no authorization to work in the country
Your deductible pension pay is greater than your weekly benefits amount
You’re a member of a union that was involved in a strike
You can apply for unemployment benefits using two methods in Oklahoma- online and telephone. Prior to this, in order to apply, you must make sure to submit the following documents.
After filing for application, you must file weekly claims in order to receive the benefits. Each week begins on a Sunday at 12:01 am and ends on a Saturday at midnight. Explore the following ways to file for unemployment benefits:
The online interface also called Oklahoma Network Initial Claims (ONIC) provides various services to the users, which includes submitting the application for benefits. Log on to https://unemployment.state.ok.us to avail the following services:
File a new claim or reopen an existing unemployment claim
View and print form 1099
Change your address
Change your PIN
Get more details on the electronic payment options
If the absence of the option to log on to the website, you may also place a call to file for benefits. Contact your claim center in the normal business hours to file your weekly claim.
To take full advantage of all the services provided by OESC, you should be aware of all the rules and regulations prescribed by the organization. Also, the OESC provides opportunities for job-seekers to improve their skill sets and get better opportunities through training programs and job drives.
It is, thus, important to be aware of all the fine details with respect to UI benefits to make complete use of it.
Overpayments And Fraud
Overpayments are classified into three groups by the OESC, which are as follows:
Claimant Error Overpayment
Claimant Error Overpayment
This type of overpayment occurs when you receive an overpayment due to a mistake of law or fact, resulting in an ensuing false claim. This may occur in the form of a false statement or you fail to disclose a material fact.
In the event of the occurrence of an error committed by you, you will be expected to return the excessive amount received. In addition to that, the claimant will have to pay an interest of 1% on the unpaid dues of the overpayment. If you fail to make the payment, the OESC will have the right to deduct the amount in question from any future benefits payable to the individual.
The administrative overpayment occurs in two scenarios, they are:
You have received any sum as benefits under the Employment Security Act, 1980 because of a mistake by the OESC itself or an employer
The benefit amount you claimed is reduced or stopped due to a redetermination or reversal on appeal
In the case of administrative overpayment, the claimant is liable to pay back the excessive amount received. The OESC will have the right to deduct the unpaid amount from future benefits payable. There will be no interest levied on the repayment of the administrative overpayment.
Fraud and Overpayments
Oklahoma unemployment fraud occurs when you make false or misleading statements intentionally and have received a benefit amount for which you were not entitled. If the OESC finds out that you have used fraudulent methods to get unemployment benefits in Oklahoma, you will be made to face the ensuing repercussions.
Some examples of fraud include, but is limited to:
Not properly reporting job separation details
Not properly reporting monetary earnings of the claimant, or not properly disclosing the source of the income
Providing the PIN number to others
Allowing other people to file for UI benefits on your behalf
If you are overpaid, you will have to pay the overpayment amount received. Along with it, you will also have to pay a penalty of 25% on the total overpayment sum and an added interest of 1% on the unpaid amount.
The OESC may also file a criminal prosecution in a court of law against you, which may lead to a jail sentence. The OESC will also have the right to deduct the amount owed to it in the future benefits payable.
The OESC may deduct your earnings from other sources to offset overpayments, which include:
State income tax refund intercept
Federal income tax refund intercept
Bank account lien and/or Property lien
Garnishment of wages from future
Your future employer
The state provides benefits extension only when the unemployment rate is too high. You may contact the OESC to determine the current available Reemployment Assistance plans.
Filing an Appeal
If your initial claim for Oklahoma unemployment benefits is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. You have 10 calendar days from the date of your official notice to submit your appeal – by mail, fax, telephone, email, or in person. In your request, make sure to include your name, Social Security number, current contact information, date of determination, and a detailed description of why you find the decision erroneous or unjust.
Once your request has been received, you’ll be assigned a date for an appeals hearing, in which you must participate. You can also submit new information and bring witnesses to testify on your behalf; you also may have an attorney represent you in this phase of the process. After the hearing, the Oklahoma Appeal Tribunal will issue its decision. If you still are found ineligible for unemployment benefits, you may escalate your appeal to the Board of Review.
When you receive your official determination from the Appeal Tribunal, you will have 10 calendar days in which to file an appeal with the Board of Review. The Board will review all information related to your claim, including the recording of your appeal hearing and the Appeal Tribunal’s decision. No further information may be submitted at this time. Once the Board of Review issues its determination, it must be appealed in federal circuit court within 30 days – otherwise, the Board’s decision becomes permanent.
Paying Taxes on your UI Benefits
It’s important to keep in mind that your Oklahoma unemployment benefits are considered taxable income, and they’ll need to be reported when you file your federal and state tax returns. For each tax year in which you receive benefits, you will receive a 1099-G form in order to complete your federal and state taxes. If you do not receive a 1099-G form, you also can download it from the IDES portal. However, unlike traditional wages, where taxes are most often automatically deducted from your earnings, unemployment compensation isn’t automatically subject to withholdings. Instead, when you apply for benefits, you have the option to have estimated taxes deducted from your benefit amount – when you choose this option, the standard deduction applied for federal taxes is 10 percent, and the standard deduction for state taxes is 3 percent.
If you do not elect to have taxes deducted from your benefit payments, there is a possibility you could end up owing income taxes when you file your tax return.
Job Training Assistance
The OESC has designed job training programs to assist job seekers in improving their competency in the job market and also retain eligibility for UI benefits.
Note that approved training programs are those that allow you to attend training or school while drawing the weekly benefit amount. You will be exempt from submitting the work search reports while attending training programs. You must, however, submit your progress report in your respective programs.
Any training program that you wish to attend must be approved by the OESC. Some of the training programs provided by OESC are:
Regular approved training: There will be no monetary assistance given under the regular-approved training programs. However, the job-seeker will not have to submit the work search requirement but instead must submit a report on satisfactory attendance and progress in the training.
Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) approved training: The state of Oklahoma may be allowed to offset a part of the tuition for candidates who qualify WIOA approved training.
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) approved training: The TAA is a federally funded program that is provided to those who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade. The program provides an opportunity for such people to get additional training or schooling to gain competency in the job market.
The TRA program is designed for those who are qualified for the TAA program. TRA provides monetary assistance after the normal UI benefits program is expired.
The ETPS is an online list of education and training providers who offer programs that are approved by WIOA or other similar federal funding programs.
Most jobs require specialized training that is well beyond a high school diploma. Most employers prefer candidates who have undergone at least a short-term training backed by industry-level credentials. It, therefore, becomes crucial to identify the appropriate training programs that add value to your profile.
Q. What are the common reasons for not qualifying for benefits?
You may have enough covered wages in your base period and still be denied for other reasons. Some of the reasons for disqualification are listed below. You may be disqualified if you:
were discharged or fired for misconduct
voluntarily quit without good cause
are not able and available for work
are not a U. S. citizen and not authorized to work
have limited the wages, hours, days, or areas of a job you would accept
do not report for or satisfactorily participate in reemployment services
are involved in a strike
are not looking for work
refuse suitable work
The law imposes a special "between-terms" disqualification whereby certain college and school employees cannot be paid benefits for any week of unemployment which begins during the period between two successive academic years or terms. Also, professional athletes cannot be paid benefits for weeks of unemployment between two successive sports seasons.
Q. If I am monetarily eligible, (I have the required wages in my base period) will I receive benefits?
Not necessarily. The monetary eligibility of an application means only that you have sufficient qualifying wages. After an application is monetarily allowed, OESC must determine if you meet all of the eligibility requirements. The first payable week of unemployment is your waiting week - no benefits can be paid for that week. You will not be paid benefits for that period of unemployment if you were discharged for misconduct or if you quit your employment without good cause connected to the work.
Q. How are UI benefits payment made?
Unemployment Insurance benefit debit card is given to the claimants during the waiting period. It could take somewhere between 7-10 days to receive the card.
You have two options to receive unemployment insurance payments. You may receive your payments via the prepaid debit card or you may direct transfer the payments from the prepaid debit card into your own U.S. banking account, for no fee.
To receive payments to the debit card, you must activate the card by following the instructions sent with the card. To set up this recurring direct transfer, you must activate your card and then visit www.goprogram.com or call 1-866-320-8699 and use the automated system to enter your banking information. If you wish to set up direct deposit without activating your card, you must visit www.goprogram.com.
You are encouraged to view the debit card and direct deposit information by visiting https://www.ok.gov/oesc/ and selecting the link “Important Information Regarding Debit Cards and Direct Deposit.” For general information on prepaid accounts, visit cfpb.gov/prepaid. If you
do not have internet access, you may obtain a copy of the information at any local Workforce
Q. What do I need to do to have taxes taken out of my check?
Unemployment Insurance benefits are subject to federal and state income tax. You must report
unemployment benefits you receive when you file your income taxes. By January 31 of each year, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission will send you a form 1099-G with the amount of the benefit you received the prior year.
Q. Can I work part-time and still be eligible to receive benefits?
You may elect to have federal and state taxes withheld from your weekly unemployment benefits. If you choose to have taxes withheld, federal taxes of 10% and state taxes of 3% will be deducted from the gross amount of your payment each week. Yes. However, you must report the amount of money you earned, before any deductions were
made, for each week, whether or not you were paid during the week. Earnings must be reported
during the week you earn them, not when you actually receive the payment. Work is anything
you do for wages, including self-employment, during the seven days of the week you are claiming Unemployment Insurance benefits.
Q. What should I do if I can’t file my weekly claim?
Contact your local Service Center during normal business hours if you encounter any problems
when filing your weekly claim: Inside the Oklahoma City calling area—(405) 525-1500 Outside the Oklahoma City calling area—(800) 555-1554 TTY/TDD Calls—(866) 284-6695