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Reopening Unemployment Claims

Updated : December 21st, 2022

How to Reopen Unemployment Claims

When you get a job, your state unemployment office closes your case. However, your unemployment benefits case will not be closed permanently. You can still reopen an unemployment claim to resume your weekly claim if you’re eligible for unemployment insurance.

Knowing how to reopen an unemployment claim is helpful when you find a job but it ends up only being temporary or not working out. In this case, an unemployment office allows you to reopen a claim to continue receiving regular unemployment benefits for as long as you remain unemployed and eligible.

When Can You Reopen An Unemployment Claim?

There are many reasons you may be able to reopen an unemployment claim to resume receiving unemployment insurance benefits. These are also known as good cause reasons for ending employment. However, unemployment can also deny your reopened claim if you quit your job without good cause or don’t meet other eligibility factors for UI benefits.

Good Cause Reasons

A good cause reason is an acceptable reason to end employment that could make you eligible for reopening an unemployment claim for weekly benefits. Although this isn’t an exhaustive list of good cause reasons, these are some of the most common scenarios for unemployed individuals.

You Got Fired from Your Job

If you get fired from your job for no fault of your own, you may still be eligible for unemployment and a reopened claim. A no-fault firing means that you were fired involuntarily rather than by willful resignation, and you didn’t do something to cause your separation from the company. For example, violating company policies, failing a substance test, or getting into trouble with the law could be grounds for an at-fault firing that would render you ineligible for benefits. 

You Were Laid Off from Your Job

A layoff is not counted the same as a termination, so most layoffs will still make you eligible for a benefit payment from unemployment. Layoffs can happen when a company temporarily downsizes, has less work during specific seasons, or has an unexpected event that causes a temporary budget change. Even for a short-term layoff of a few weeks, you may be able to reopen an unemployment claim to collect unemployment compensation during the weeks of the layoff.

Your Work Hours Were Reduced

A reduction in work hours may be a reasonable cause for reopening an unemployment claim and receiving benefits for weeks of hour reductions. Each state differs on its guidelines for a reduction in hours as a good-cause event, but some states allow as little as a 10% reduction to qualify for partial unemployment. For example, if you typically work 40 hours a week but have been reduced to 34 hours for the foreseeable future, you could qualify for benefits for a prorated weekly benefit amount.

Unsafe or Discriminatory Working Conditions

By law, workers may be able to refuse or terminate their employment at a job that they deem unsafe or discriminatory. Unsafe work can be anything that jeopardizes their health or safety, such as improper safety measures for construction projects. Discriminatory practices can relate to sexual harassment, race, disability, and other social measures that affect workers.

Your Job is Not Suitable

In some cases, people begin work they believe suits their skills. However, after a few days or weeks on the job, they find out that it’s not what they expected. In this situation, you may be able to collect unemployment due to unsuitable work. However, each state has its own rules on suitable work, and what it means, so you’ll need to check with your local unemployment office or workforce services agency to ask about your specific circumstances.

Qualifying Personal, Family, or Medical Emergencies

Medical, family, and other personal emergencies that make it impossible or extremely challenging for you to work or meet your work obligations could be good cause for reopening an unemployment claim. Eligibility requirements may include a doctor’s statement outlining a medical emergency or a personal statement detailing the circumstances affecting your work. It’s also a good idea to notify your job of the situation before quitting and have proof of that communication on your record for unemployment.

Disqualifying Reasons

A few situations may disqualify you from being able to reopen an unemployment claim, including:

It’s a New Benefit Year

If you research how to reopen an unemployment claim several months after your original claim, you might find that you’re outside of your benefit year to reopen a claim. A benefit year is a period following your initial claim when you filed for UI online. When your reopened claim falls outside of your benefit year, your state may require you to file a new claim rather than reopen an existing claim.

You Quit Your Job or Were Fired for a Non-Good-Cause Reason

The good cause reasons for leaving a job listed above often allow you to remain eligible to reopen a claim for your unemployment benefit. However, not having a good cause reason could make you ineligible. For example, if you quit a job without notice because you didn’t like your coworkers, you probably would not be able to reopen your unemployment claim based on that reason alone.

You’ve Used All of Your Unemployment Benefit

Each state has a cap set on unemployment benefits allowing you to receive up to a specific number of weekly benefits. For example, Ohio and New York allow up to 26 weeks of your weekly benefit amount per benefit year. However, Florida only provides UI benefits for 12 weeks. You won’t be eligible for more unemployment until the following benefit year, and even then, you’ll need to reapply rather than reopen your initial claim.

How It Works

People who lose their jobs a second time, fall into two different categories. The first one being a case where a person loses his job within 52 weeks of filing for UI. The second, a person who was laid off post expiration of the 52 weeks.

For people in the first category, things are pretty easy. You can simply start claiming your benefits if you have any remaining benefits i.e., if you are in the latter category, you may have to reapply for unemployment insurance.

The benefit amount that you will receive and your eligibility criteria may depend heavily on the time duration between your previous unemployment compensation and recent unemployment. Likely, your previous claim won’t be affecting your new claim in any way, also your current benefit amount will be calculated from the wages you earned in your most recent employment. In most cases, the amount you receive will be smaller than what you received in the first benefit year.

You must also be able to prove that your recent unemployment is not voluntary or a result of your mistakes.

What Is a Benefit Year?

A benefit year is a one-year period during which you remain eligible for unemployment benefits with an existing claim or a reopened claim. Once your benefit year expires, you may no longer be able to reopen an existing claim. Instead, you’ll need to file a new claim. You can typically find information about your benefit year on the paperwork you receive when you open a claim for unemployment benefits.

Each state has its own definition of a benefit year. For many states, a benefit year is the one-year period (52 weeks) after you first file your claim. So, if you filed a claim during the first week of April 2022, your benefit year would last through the last week of March 2023. Check with your local UC benefits agency to learn more about a benefit year for your state and whether you’d need to file a new claim or can reopen an existing claim.

Details Required To Claim UI Benefits Again

You may need to submit all relevant details to refile for unemployment irrespective of whether you are still in the same benefit year. Before you start filing, it will be handy to keep the following information ready.

  • SSN
  • Personal identification number (PIN)
  • Motor vehicle card no. / driver’s license
  • Complete mailing address with zip code
  • Contact number
  • Names and contact details of all your previous employers
  • Employer Registration Number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your latest employer
  • If you were a federal employee, copies of SF8 and SF50
  • For military service, your most recent separation form (DD214)
  • Your Alien Registration Card no. if you are not a U.S. citizen.

How To Reopen Unemployment Claims

The steps involved in reopening an unemployment claim varies from state to state. Some states may allow its citizens to reopen and file a claim online with their previously assigned Personal Identification Number (PIN) and username. Other states may require you to call and talk to the representatives at the unemployment office.

Reopening A Claim Online

To reopen your unemployment claim online, follow the below-mentioned steps.

Step 1 – Log in to your UI account and choose to reopen your claim.

Step 2 – Fill all the details and answer all the questions asked by the Department Of Labor (DOL). This allows DOL to determine your eligibility.

Step 3 – Review and submit the details. On applying, you may get a confirmation notice/letter. Save it for future records.

The process of how to reopen an unemployment claim varies from state to state. Still, the process is relatively similar in most states, requiring you to log into your state unemployment portal and navigate to the Claims section to either file a new claim or reopen an existing claim. Be sure to have important information handy, like your Social Security Number and direct deposit information, in case you need it for your application.

Below, we detail the process from four states to help you become familiar with online services for unemployment and reopened claims.

California 

California’s online portal lets you file a new claim or reopen an existing claim conveniently and securely. Simply log into California’s UI Online and select Reopen Your Claim from the claims section of your dashboard.

If you’d rather fax or mail your information, download the California Unemployment Insurance Application (DE 1101i) form and fax or mail it using the information included on the form. You may also call 1-800-300-5616 during usual business hours or visit a California unemployment center if you want assistance reopening your claim.

Pennsylvania

To reapply for PA unemployment, the quickest and simplest way is to do it online through the UC system. Log in to your existing account with the same credentials you used to file initially. Then, find the Claims section to reopen your claim. You can complete your reopened claim application 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the online system.

Alternatively, you can call 1-888-313-7284, Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 4 pm, to reopen your claim by phone.

Michigan

To reapply for Michigan unemployment benefits, the state uses an online system called MiWAM for initial unemployment benefit filings and reopened claims. Use your existing account to log into the MiWAM system and find the reopened claims link. You should reopen your claim during the first week you experience job loss or reduced hours.

You may also call 1-866-500-0017 or use the live chat feature on the MiWAM website if you run into trouble with your reopened claim. However, if you’d like to file by phone, you’ll need to ask a representative when to do so, as Michigan sets appointment times for unemployment filers.

Alabama

Unemployment claimants can reopen a claim with Alabama through the Alabama Department of Labor. They should do this as soon as they become unemployed for streamlined processing. Look for the Claimants section and click on the Claimant Portal link to find the section for reopening your claim.

Alabama also allows you to call by phone at 1-866-234-5382 if you’d prefer to speak with a representative to reopen your claim.

Extension of Benefits

As you may already know, benefits are usually awarded for up to 26 weeks, and extended benefits are provided only during the time of crisis. Once your benefits expire, you will have to reapply for them. The unemployment agency usually sends you a notice informing you that your benefits are about to expire. It also informs you regarding how you can reapply to enjoy continued benefits.

I Need Help To File My Claim

If you are disabled or unable to file the claim yourself, you may seek help from a trusted person. You do not have to file your claim yourself. However, no matter how much you trust the person you choose to aid you, we strongly recommend that you be present each time they help you and use your PIN.

Also, do keep in mind that you will be held responsible for the actions of your helper. Furthermore, you will be subject to penalties, and you may even forfeit your benefits if you are NOT PRESENT when a helper aids you.

Claim Denials

Unfortunately, claims can be denied sometimes. Several reasons could lead to this. The most commonly seen reason for claim denial is when the unemployment agency fails to determine that you lost your job through no error of yours. Or if you have not earned sufficient wages during a base period. Whatever the case is, the agency holds the right to deny your claim if they find you ineligible.

However, if your claim gets denied, you can always request the agency to reconsider your application. To do so, you will have to file an appeal. Directions on how to do so are usually enclosed within the letter you received from the agency stating that your claim has been denied. In most cases, there is a specific time frame within which you reapply if you want to send an appeal.

I Don’t Think I Will Qualify

Has reading so much has led you to believe that you would not qualify for the benefits? If so, we still strongly recommend that you still proceed with filing your application. This article is only informative. Only the State Unemployment Agency has the absolute authority to decide if you qualify or not. Apply all the same, and think of the rest later. 

Hunt For Jobs

Not Steve Jobs, the ones that pay you for the work you do. You know that you cannot go on depending on your UI benefits forever. Also, it is imperative that you actively search for a new job because it is one of the requirements that you must fulfil to qualify for the benefits.

A Word of Advice

By reopening your unemployment claim you can meet your financial meets temporarily. However, in the mean time make sure you look for a job that let’s you earn good income and help you be financially stable. We understand that you are going through a difficult stage. Worrying about it too much is not going to help in any way as it will only lead to adverse effects on you. Try to stay positive, spend time with your loved ones, and search for new employment opportunities. Update your social media profiles to make them more employer-friendly and never give up on hope. Good luck!

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