Base Period for Filing Unemployment Benefits

Author : Ray

Updated : December 4th, 2018

Estimate Your Base Period Using this Tool:

Select your filing month and year:

Your Base Period is:

The base period in a broader sense is the period of employment prior to losing the job. It is also referred to as base year. The base period is generally the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the effective date of the claim/unemployment. So what is a calendar quarter? Every calendar year is divided into four parts, known as “quarters”. Here are the 4 calendar quarters –

Calendar Quarter

Coming to the Base Period, if the unemployment claim is filed in January, February or March of 2013, then the base period is October 2011 through September 2012.

Although the base period is defined by state unemployment agencies, the following chart explains a definition adopted by many states.

Regular Base Period

For the base period to be considered valid, the employment should be covered or insured. Covered / Insured Employment is when the employer would have contributed unemployment insurance taxes to the government. These taxes aid a worker while unemployed.

Base period helps determine the monetary eligibility, where the recipient should have earned a minimum amount in the base period to qualify for unemployment benefits. It also determines the amount of benefits a person is entitled to.

What happens if you have not worked for more than a year? You may qualify for the alternate base period. An alternate base period is the last four calendar quarters prior to unemployment. The alternate base period is not something you can choose to use. It can be used only if you cannot establish monetary entitlement using your wages in the traditional base period. This means, if you have not earned sufficient wages during your traditional base period, the state government will apply the alternate base period to the claim to determine monetary eligibility. Additional information like most recent quarter earning, proof of wages earned in the form of pay stubs and verification of wages earned during the quarter from your employer may be asked for in case of the alternate base period. Here’s a chart explaining alternate base period –

Alternate Base Period

Contact your local state unemployment office to find out the exact criteria used for base period calculations before filing for unemployment. Some states are flexible with base period requirements and allow you to “borrow” from quarters outside of base period if you do not have enough credits.

If you are looking to file for unemployment benefits, please refer to the guides on the side menu or state-specific pages.

Did you find this article helpful?   YES | NO   image

  1. I am in California and filing for unemployment for the first time in 5 years or so. Last time I had to report my earnings by quarter. Is this still true? I do not have paystubs for all of this time. Should I just guess on what I do not know?


    1. Joe,

      Please go online and file on the internet. This way, you will know the exact mechanism for reporting the earnings.

  2. I worked for my company for 17 years and was laid off 2/1/17. I received unemployment $ for 6 months. On my last pay stub, the EDD said if I didn’t find a job by 2/16/18, to reopen my claim. I did and was told my claim would be reopened. Then I received notification that my claim was denied because I didn’t hadn’t worked since my last claim. Now, I have to appear in front the appeals board on 3/23/18. What about “Alternate Base Year”? What do I need to say the the appeals board? Please advise.

    1. Carol,

      I suggest that you visit the website of the Unemployment Office in your state to know more about how they use alternate base year and place your calculations accordingly.

  3. I started working at my current job at the end of 0ctober 2015 and my contract is up May 31st 2016. As far as timing goes, would I qualify for unemployment benefits in New York if I apply in June?

    1. If its a contract job, you may not qualify. Please inquire further with the Unemployment Office in your state.

  4. Thanks for this post! For those wondering about base period, here’s what happened to me: In 2011 I started a job in May and was laid off in Sept. (my company merged with another = bye!). Due to the “base period”, I was unable to claim unemployment, though I’d been paying into the system as a full time employee for the better part of 20 years. Now, 4 years later, I’m losing my job again, only this time, because my claim is in July for a job started in February, looks like I’m eligible. Both jobs were 5 months! But I can only claim for the recent one due to this base period nonsense. How is this even legal? There should really never be a situation in which you lose your job (other than gross misconduct) and cannot claim unemployment compensation. The base period is BS; just a way for them to get out of paying you money you deserve. As a single parent, it is impossible to survive. Our laws need to change to benefit hard working individuals who lose jobs through no fault of their own – crazy bosses, job definition changing after you start, mergers, acquistions, re-orgs or whatever. Companies should have to bear some responsibility for just tossing your loyal a*s out on the street!

  5. i have not been able to find a job in years – i was wondering if i could file for unemployment again. i am looking sooooo hard but their is nothing out there – what do i do are there any other options

  6. Hi, i am from the state of NY. i need to know if a person who worked during two calendar quarter and earned $3,770 dollar on the first quarter and $7,800 on the second quarter qualify to receive unemployment benefits based on that income? thankss

  7. I had to leave my job two years ago due to Major Clinical Depression. I left in July 2010 and I did file a claim. I got a letter back from Unemployment about providing proof of my illness, but I was to sick to provide the necessary papers. I am feeling better now but have not been able to find work, has it been too long to recieve Unployment from 2 years ago. Thank You

  8. I left my full time job after so many years. Found a new job 7 months later and then switched to a new one but they let me go in 3 days. I filed for UI benefits and the base period was from the job that I left. They notified my former employer. Does it run from the last job that dropped me or the last full time job that I left?

  9. I was hired 2/09/2012 and due to harrasment and an unjust demotion which cut my hours by more than half I sent in my reginastion. Will I qualify for unemployment?

  10. If in case you have worked enough to fulfill the unemployment benefit’s criteria then you should be able to get the benefit, if you are able enough to work with then you can surely try for the new work which will add on to your UI criteria…

  11. II was on fmla from oct 25 to jan 27 to treat my debilitating laterally knee osteoarthritis. It did not help so the surgeon decided to do a total knee replacement so I can walk again. I was scheduled for surgery with a 12 week recovery time. I then informed my employer and I was told I lost my job protection although I was still employed. They said they will try their best to find me a position when I am released by my doctor to go back to work. My release date is June 21. I have already called twice but the answer is they are stil looking. How can they say I am employed but I do not have a job. At this’s point am I qualified to file for unemployment while I look for a job?

  12. Q? I got fired because other staff was harassing me so I said something back an im the only one that got fired I worked there form 2/20/12-4/16/12 but the paper they sent me said I started on the 27 witch is not true so can I get unemployment? ??

    1. Sure you can get the UI benefits, file the claim with all the supporting documents if the employer disagrees file for the appeal also try and get your right benefits…

  13. My husband’s boss has decided to fold the company and wants my husband to sign a contract that says that he is terminated now or in on a future date when he the owner of the company decides to shut the company down and that my husnband will recieve no pay unless my husband brings in revenue himself. I don’t want him to sign this and if he quits will he not get his unemployment benefits? He did not recieve his last paycheck Friday and has been basically working this week for free cause he is afraid to quit and lose his chance for unemployment. We are in Jacksonville, Florida. Please help! Him or I have never been on unemployment.

  14. I applied in nov for unemployment after being laid of. My claim was suspended because I did not make enough in the last 2 quarters of the base to qualifly. Will I be able to reapply in the next quarter starting jan. to see if I am now eligble? I live in Indiana

  15. On July 22, 2011. my employer sent out a memo stating beginning the next pay period we emoloyees will only be getting 371/2 hrs per week therefore 5 less hours per pay when I said something I was told it’s to keep the company above water Well I have to keep me above water can I collect for those hours? please tell me I can

  16. i was let go from my company for lack of work, as well as serveral other employees.
    one of which was a part-time, first job employee. everyone that was let go recieved their extentions. i on the other hand got my final check with no warning and was told i have no extention due me because of the work period prior. i was under the assumtion that the extentions were not based on prior work history especially knowing the part time first job employee was recieving his extentions. how, with no prior work history? at the time i did not know how to fight the denial and to this day have still no answer to my question, which was ” are the extentions based on prior work history?” oh, and especially if the company has hired since then and should, do you think because of “lack of work” they should have to pull employees from the “let go group” if they were no problem and were qualified? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Brandon, Don’t give up!!! It took over 6 weeks for me to even hear the first word about my claim. Remember, it’s just their word against yours!!! Good Luck.

  18. Can you draw unemployment if you receive a teacher’s retirement and social security? What if you are forced to resign from a job?

  19. I live in South Carolina, my employer told me my position was no longer available to me and i had my fact finding interview and they my employer didnt bother getting back in touch with the commission. They also sent me a pay order card to get it sent direct deposit before my interview. After the interview they then sent my paper work to Columbia our capital. My question is, how long will it take them to make the decision to give me my benefits? Ive already been claiming for 5 weeks now. Thank you for your time.

  20. I quit my job 3/08 and filed 6/08 and was denied i reopened 4/09 and won the appeal on 6/09 i am still unemployed and fased out but still have a remainig balance that exactly amounts to the gap. i recieved 86 weeks. i would appreciate any advise or ideas thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer a simple Math question: *