Published in: Banks | April 1, 2020

How to Apply for Unemployment in Arkansas

By:  Dana George

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If you've lost your job in Arkansas, here's how to file for unemployment benefits.

The Arkansas state flag flying in front of a courthouse.

Image source: Getty Images

Like workers around the country, Arkansans are losing jobs in record numbers as the COVID-19 pandemic forces businesses to close. Labor officials in Arkansas are working 24/7 to process unemployment claims. If you have lost your job and need to file a claim of your own, the following information can help streamline the process:

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

If your place of work has closed because of the novel coronavirus, albeit temporarily, or you are unable to work due to quarantine or sickness, you may be eligible for benefits. In fact, the state advises Arkansans to apply even if they do not meet all the requirements below as some may be relaxed during the pandemic.

In order to qualify for unemployment benefits in Arkansas, you must:

  • Be partially or fully unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • Be mentally and physically capable of working.
  • Be available and searching for work, though the work-search requirement has been waived during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Meet the minimum earning conditions during your base period.

Your base period refers to the earliest four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your benefits claim. So if you file in March 2020, your base period will be October 2018 to September 2019, and if you file in April, it will be January to December 2019.

You need to have earned money in two out of four quarters and your total base period earnings need to be more than 35 times your weekly benefit (see below).

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

To file an initial claim, you need to complete an application on the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (ADWS) website. You also have the option of filing by telephone at 855-225-4440, or the temporary hotlines 844-908-2178 or 501-534-6304. Be aware that current wait times can make it difficult to get through.

Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your Social Security number, or your Alien Registration Number 
  • Current address and telephone number
  • Contact info for all employers you've worked for in the past 12 months
  • Start and end dates for the most recent employer
  • If you've served in the U.S. military at any time during the past 18 months, provide your DD-214 Member Copy 4 form
  • If you worked for the federal government during the past 18 months, provide your SF-8 form (if available)

If you file online, a confirmation page will appear. Print it out and save it for your records.

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits? 

The minimum unemployment benefits in Arkansas is $81 per week. The maximum is $451 per week. Your specific benefit is determined by dividing the highest-paid quarter (three months) of your base period by 26. 

For example, let's say you earned $6,000 in quarter one, $5,500 in quarter two, $6,500 in quarter three and $5,000 in quarter four. In this scenario, the highest-paid quarter is quarter three ($6,500). The math looks like this: $6,500 ÷ 26 = $250. 

The government's CARES Act will entitle claimants to an additional $600 per week through July 31, 2020. This is on top of your Arkansas allowance.

You can choose to have weekly benefit payments automatically deposited into your bank account or have the funds loaded onto a prepaid debit card. Be aware that unemployment benefits are subject to income tax.

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?

As of this writing, the state has not issued information on how many weeks a recipient may collect unemployment benefits. For the latest updates on the issue, contact ADWS at 844-908-2178 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

If you are denied benefits, you have the right to appeal with the Arkansas Appeal Tribunal (P.O. Box 8013, Little Rock, AR 72203). Currently, the best way to do so is to submit an appeal in writing within 20 days of the date your denial decision was mailed. You should continue to submit your weekly claims during the process.

Platitudes do not help at a time like this, but the truth is, the pandemic will pass, and you will find another job. Here's to making it one you enjoy.

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