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Base Period for Filing Unemployment Benefits

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.

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  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?


    • 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.

    • 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?

    • 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? ??

    • 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. Unemployment Eligibility if you are fired

    In case if you were fired from the company can you still collect the unemployment compensation. It depends on the circumstances on what basis you were fired from the company you were working.

    If you were fired from the company on the basis that the job was not suitable for your position and if you were terminated on the reason that the company has reduced the production and cutting off the employees then you may become qualified for the unemployment benefits.

    If you are fired on the basis of misconduct behavior then you may not be eligible for the unemployment compensation. Misconducts in behavior are treated over violation of company policies or rules, falsifying records or any other serious misbehavior related to your employment.

    If you are fired from the company and you are still not aware whether you are eligible or not over the compensation claim, verify with your concerned State Unemployment Office to clarify over your eligibility for unemployment compensation claims since the eligibility requirement varies from state to state in qualifying unemployment benefits.

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. 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.

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

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. My husband was collecting unemployment earlier this year, but stopped applying for it over 6 months ago beacuse he had 2 part-time jobs. Now he is back to one part-time job can he re-apply for unemployment?

    • If you work less than four days in a week and earn $405 or less, you may receive partial benefits. Each day or part of a day of work causes your weekly benefit rate to drop by one-quarter. For example, if your weekly benefit rate is $100 and you work three days and earn less than $405, you may receive $25 in benefits. If you work two days, you may receive $50 in benefits. If you work one day, you may receive $75 in benefits.

      If you receive partial benefits, it extends the length of time you may collect benefits. If you earn over $405 in any week, no matter how many days you worked, you cannot receive benefits for that week.

  23. I lived and worked in TN for 32 months. I moved to OH to be near family. I had trouble finding work in OH. I filed for Unemployment with TN and was denied. I secured employment in OH. I was terminated without just cause. I applied for Unemployment in OH and it was approved. I received benefits for 6 months. I recently got a letter from OH stating I owe $780 benefits I was approved for in TN and collected in OH from May 9, 2010 to June 19, 2010. I was approved for an extention in OH, but cannot collect until the overpayment is paid back. I cannot get TN to respond to fax I sent them. TN never notified me I was eligible there. I never received any benefits from TN. I have not received any benefits from OH now since Oct. 19, 2010. OH Unemployment will not communicate with TN. TN will not answer me. How long does this usually take to sort out?


    • The judge will hold the hearing without you and will decide your case without hearing your side.

      If you miss a hearing for a good reason (for example, you had a medical emergency), you may apply to reopen the judge’s decision by writing to Department of Labor. You will need to give the reason(s) why you did not appear. If the judge finds that you hold a good reason, the judge will reopen the case.

  25. My husband was fired from his job of 4 years, we signed an agreement with employer not to pursue unemployment if they would change termination to voluntary termination and give an okay reference if called. So we went without for several months, then he found a job and worked with them from August 2010 (end) – October 29, 2010, but was told there was not more work for him to do. So now he is unemployed again. Can we file for unemployment and not breech our contract with old employer? Which employer will be paying for the unemployment and how does it all work. So many questions!

  26. I have been working full time in a small hospital in Pennsylvania since Oct. 2008 until it was bought early this year.Just 2 months ago they announced cost cutting measures.As a consequence they laid off employees and I’m a victim under this circumstance being the newest kid on the block.My last day was Sept 2010.I recently filed unemployment but I was told I’m not eligible because I didn’t earn enough credit based on Base Period criteria. Is that possible?

    • To have a payable claim you must:

      Have wages in at least two of your four base-period calendar quarters and
      Have total base period wages that are at least 37 times your weekly benefit amount and
      Have earned 6 times your new weekly benefit amount since the time you qualified for benefits on a prior claim.

      If you were out of work for a prolonged time during the base period because of a medically verifiable illness, injury, disability, or pregnancy, you may be able to use an alternate base period. If you meet the requirements, TWC could use wages you earned before your illness or injury. If you qualify under both a regular and an alternate base period, you decide which base period to use.

  27. My landlord was also my boss and I was late on rent. When I addressed him of this, we got into a disagreement and was fired. Had nothing to do with my work performance. I filed for unemployment only to be denied. He claimed that I was fired for being late and not complying to policy. I missed the appeal date. Is there anything I can do before I am homeless? Please help.

  28. I was working as a consultant for a nonprofit. My job ends next moth and I was wondering if i can apply for unemployment.

    I also worked for a union for 3 years and quit after they denied my leave of absence, does that count?


  29. My wife had been working fulltime for the past 24yrs. Got ill and went on disability for 1 yr. starting in January 2009. She recently tried to get unemployment and was told that because she had not worked in the past yr. she was not eligible. It that true? We live in California.

  30. What if your company closes for good – can you still collect unemployment? I started a new job with the company I work for – at a higher rate – will my unemployment compensation reflect this ? What if your company cannot pay you for the time you put in – and then they go belly up – where will the paycheck come from and can you get unemployment benefits?

    • If your employer has paid the Unemployment Insurance then you will be automatically get the benefit, but only thing is you need to be eligible to claim the benefit.

      If you were fired from the company on the basis that the job was not suitable for your position and if you were terminated on the reason that the company has reduced the production and cutting off the employees then you may be qualified for unemployment benefits.

  31. NJ Unemployed Teacher
    HELP!! I cannot get a straight answer from the NJ Dept of Labor about substitute teaching and collecting UE benefits. If I am signed up in a district and called a day or so a week, will those daily earnings be deducted from my UE check for that week, which I am o.k. with, OR do I lose my UE benefits for that entire week OR do I lose my benefits entirely because I am considered working as a “teacher,” neither of which I am totally NOT o.k. with.

  32. I got laid off in march 2009 after work for a company for 10 years, in sep 2009 I become permanent resident, so I was working for all 10 years illegaly but paying allways, so my money is there. I was denied my unemployment when they ask me if the last 18 months before my laid off I was legal resident or illegal? My answer was illegal, and they answer was then you can’t collect! Where is my money that I leave for 10 years? is that true? I got no job now for the last 16 months.

  33. Can a person who is retired but went back to work and was laid off get unemployment? I was told that since I get a retirement benefit that I cannot yet a person who gets social security can get both. This does not seem fair. My retirement takes the place of social security. Any help out there?

  34. i have been laid off since december of 2008 and there are no jobs in site. now they ask me to file a new claim for the state of indiana because its july and thats my month. but the base period they gave me was january 2009 to march 2009 i think. of course i was laid off them. if they extend federal benifits can i still draw

  35. question ?
    i was laid off from the company i worked for for two and half years i was laid off for 10 months then called back and i have worked for about two months doing the same job and was told today i would be laid off again friday, can i draw unemployment again? untill i fine a job or get called back again

  36. I filed for unemployment May 2,8 2010 in SC. I have had a phone interview 4-weeks ago and have a statement mailed to me from SC Unemployment on how much I can receive. Yet, it is now 6-weeks into this and I have not received any money. I am certainly eligable for unemployment and will receive the full amount. I file my work claim every week as expected. When I ck online, it says an unresolved issue call the unemployment office. I do and they keep saying every week it is in Columbia being reviewed. Yet nothing. Does anyone know how long it has been taking for everyone else is SC?

    • mine sc uunemployment after seven week filing for benefits,still saying unresolved issues,whats going on,no check yet.

      • This question is best answered by the representatives of the labor dept in your state.

        Please call the claims center to find out specific information.

  37. Just a quick question…I have been on unemployment in NJ since 7/09 and I was recently told be a friend that after one year, you will not be paid your benefits, even if it is showing that you still have money available in your claim. My friend said I would have to refile. Is this correct?

  38. Hi. I graduated in 2006. I have not been able to find work in my field and can hardly find work in general. I have been working for over a year part time (I live in NJ) 25 hours a week, and paid biweekly. I have been scraping by the last year hardly affording my rent/bills/food etc. They recently cut my very little hours down by an hour a day reducing my paychecks to nothing, I can not afford my rent/food or anything. Would I still be able to collect considering the circumstances ?

  39. I worked Aug-Dec at $9/hour then worked Jan-June at $30/hour until I got laid off June 16. According to the UI chart, if I apply for UI on 6/18, my base period will be based on $9/hour. If I wait to apply for UI on 7/1, then my base period will be based on $30 according to the chart. The UI website states that the base period depends on the date you file your claim. Does it not depend on what date you last worked? Can I wait 2 weeks to file so I get the better base period base on my normal wage?

  40. I know if you choose Substitute teaching, you cannot claim unemployment benefit at least in Texas and I am sure that is true in other states too!
    Sometime, they put teachers in Substitute list so that they cannot claim unemployment! Well, if you get a call everyday, that pay may be better than unemployment insurance.

    • I was looking for someone in the same boat as myself. I also was denied UI, but am fighting it with all that I have! We may have info that could help us, as I have a number of attys as family fds, and have a legal background myself. If you would like to share info or just bounce off another unfortunate teacher email me.

      A Texas Unemployeed Teacher

  41. I know if you choose Substitute teaching, you cannot claim unemployment benefit at least in Texas and I am sure that is true in other states too!
    Sometime, they put teachers in Substitute list so that they cannot claim unemployment!

  42. I was recently “let go” after more than 2 years with my company. I am a resident of Delaware but worked in PA from 09/07 to 09/09 and most recently in NJ until 06/02/10. When I went to the DE Dept of Labor, I was told that I can’t apply for benefits there. The clerk told me because I earned significantly more in the first quarter of 2010 than in previous quarters, that I should wait until July 5th to apply in NJ because my benefit would be $600 instead of $400 in PA if I applied now. Is that true?

  43. I am a teacher and I am about to be “excised” due to budget cuts. I have been told that I will be put on a subsitute list and will be the first party to be called when a sub is needed in the district. My question is- can I collect unemployment benefits on the days that I am not called in to help make up the difference in the loss of income?

  44. I was on disability for 2 years the company I worked for did not keep me due to my injury. Now my benefits are over and I am being released into a job market that is nearly impossible to find a job. I applied for Unemployment and they(Las Vegas) denied me saying I was out of work to long but I was not allowed to work while I was on disability so I do not understand how they can deny me??

  45. @Brady – are they denying the benefits based on the latest job you quit due to personal reasons? Can you tell them that was more like a temp/part-time job, so the reason for quitting that job will not matter?

  46. Thank you for helping everyone Ray!

    I was terminated middle of 8/09 from a job I was at for 4 years. I filled my unemployment claim immediately but my previous employer fought me therefore I had to appeal and appeal until the Hearing Process. I won my appeal and was found to have been unjustly fired.

    The kicker is this: My “Hearing” was delayed until 2/25/10 and the ruling wasn’t sent until 3/26/10. During the Appeal process I found a job and worked from 11/09 – 2/10 (4mos) earning MUCH LESS than my previous job. I had to leave that job due to my father’s health and living situation. Now, Ohio Unemployment is telling me that I’m not eligible for the remainder of the benefits that i JUST received!?

    Does this sound right? I’ve had a heck of a time with the State Employment CSR’s. No straight answers or exlpanations.

    Please help! The Ohio Revised Code is killing me!

  47. Despite most recent positive indicators, the job market remains bleak. I was laid off in Jan. 2010. The benefits in NY state provide 26 weeks. I am confused by the current extensions which seem to only apply to those who filed an initial claim prior to Sept. ’09. While I hope to find suitable employment before the end of my claim, I am concerned that extensions are no longer available to those filing after Sept. ’09. I also wonder how the April 12th ’10 decision effects all of this.

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