by Kailey Hagen | March 30, 2020
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Alaskans out of work due to COVID-19 can fall back on unemployment for the next few months.
Alaska may be more isolated than most U.S. states, but that hasn't stopped COVID-19 from upending the lives of Alaskan residents, too. Workplaces are closing to slow the spread of the disease, and that leaves thousands of workers without paychecks. You might worry about your financial security, but unemployment can help with that.
This guide will walk you through the basics of Alaska unemployment benefits and help you figure out if you qualify, how much you can expect, and how to apply.
Alaska residents must meet the following requirements to be eligible for unemployment benefits:
Those who are out of work because they have or believe they have COVID-19 or because they're caring for a sick family member or a child who cannot attend school are eligible for unemployment benefits.
Alaska has waived its work-search requirement during the pandemic, but you still have to meet the earnings requirement.
The state evaluates your income during a base period. This is the first four of the last five complete quarters before you applied for unemployment. If you apply in March, that's October 2018 through September 2019. It's January through December 2019 for those who apply in April.
You must have earned at least $2,500 in gross income over two quarters during your base period to qualify for unemployment benefits. If you don't qualify, you may be able to by using an alternate base period, which looks at your earnings over the four most recently completed quarters.
The easiest way to apply for Alaska unemployment benefits is to create an account on the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development website. Have the following information ready:
After creating your account, you must log on every other week to request your benefits. There's usually a one-week waiting period, but it's waived during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your weekly benefit amount (WBA) will be somewhere between $56 and $370. You can use this worksheet to estimate how much you'll get.
You may also be eligible for an allowance of $24 per week per dependent for up to three dependents in addition to your WBA. Eligible dependents include unmarried children, stepchildren, adopted children, and court-appointed wards.
You can collect Alaska unemployment benefits for at least 16 weeks and possibly up to 26 weeks, depending on your WBA. However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.
If you find new employment, you must stop claiming unemployment even if you haven't hit your weekly limit.
If your claim is denied, you can appeal the decision by email, phone, fax, or mail within 30 days of the decision. You should continue filing your biweekly benefit claims until a final decision is made. You can find more information in the Alaska unemployment insurance handbook.
Unemployment benefits won't solve all of your problems, but they can ease your financial worries during this stressful and uncertain time. Apply today if you believe you qualify.
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