Published in: Banks | March 27, 2020

How to Apply for Unemployment in Alabama

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This will guide you through the process so you can get your benefits.

Alabama, like many states, has imposed new restrictions in response to the novel coronavirus. If you're affected by the closures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it's possible you'll experience a reduction in wages or loss of income.

If that happens to you, applying for unemployment benefits in Alabama could help you get some money in the bank to cover your costs during these challenging times. This guide will explain the application process and provide some details on the benefits you could receive. 

The Alabama state flag in front of a blue sky.

Image source: Getty Images

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

To qualify for unemployment insurance in Alabama, there are a few basic requirements you must meet. These include the following:

  • You must have earned wages in at least two quarters of your base period. A base period is defined as the first four quarters of the last five quarters, dating back from the time your claim is filed. So if you file in March 2020, your base period would be the 12 months running from October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019 
  • Your total wages during your base period must be greater than 1.5 times the amount of earnings you received in your highest quarter during your base period.
  • You must be able to work and willing to accept suitable work.
  • You must be actively looking for a full-time job.
  • Your job loss must not have been your fault.

While generally, you must be able to work in order to qualify, Alabama has different rules for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are in mandatory quarantine because you have or are suspected to have COVID-19 and unable to work, you will be eligible for benefits. If the novel coronavirus has caused your hours to be reduced, you may qualify so you should put in an application. 

Employees who impose self-quarantines are generally not eligible because the employee is voluntarily choosing not to work.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

You can file your claim for unemployment benefits online at the Alabama Department of Labor website

You also have the option to file your claim by calling the Initial Claims Line at (866) 234-5382. This will connect you to an electronic Interactive Voice Response and you'll answer some questions before being routed to a customer service representative to help you complete the application process.

To file your claim for benefits, you'll need:

  • Your Social Security number
  • The name and address for your most recent employer
  • The dates of your most recent employment
  • Your driver's license number or number from another state-issued ID
  • Your DD214 member copy if you're separating from the military
  • Your mother's maiden name
  • Your work authorization number if you aren't a U.S. citizen

You will also need to file a weekly claim certification after your benefit year has been established, which begins as soon you've filed your application -- don't wait until it is approved.

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits?

Benefits in Alabama are determined by your base period earnings. The minimum benefit is $45 per week and the maximum is $275 per week. When you file your claim, you'll receive a monetary determination form listing your base period wages and the amount of benefits you are entitled to. 

A federal stimulus package, pending passage in late March, has proposed increasing unemployment benefits by $600 per week. The stimulus bill would temporarily raise the amount of benefits you receive until the end of June. It's intended to help workers cope with the massive increase in unemployment resulting from social distancing measures put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?

Alabama allows unemployment benefits for between 14 and 20 weeks. The specific number of weeks you can receive benefits depends on the unemployment rate. Because the coronavirus pandemic is expected to result in widespread layoffs, it is likely that a high unemployment rate will enable workers to become eligible for benefits for the maximum 20-week period. However, even during this difficult time, there are still some jobs available and benefits end if you return to work. 

The federal CARES Act would also provide all eligible workers with an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits, so you may be able to receive unemployment for 33 weeks total.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

If your claim for unemployment benefits is denied you must file a written appeal. The appeal must be received within 15 calendar days of the mailing date on the original decision. This can be faxed to (334) 242-2084 or mailed to: Hearings & Appeals, State of Alabama, 649 Monroe St., Montgomery Alabama, 36131.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left millions of Americans facing difficult financial decisions. If you have lost your job, make sure you find out what financial support you might be entitled to.

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