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Chapter 96 of the Iowa Code is dedicated to unemployment compensation, and a person in Iowa can be entitled to unemployment benefits when they have earned at least the minimum amount of wages before they became unemployed, they became unemployed through no fault of their own, and they are able and available to work while actively seeking employment.
Unemployment benefits are not automatic, and an employer may protest a benefits claim. In such cases, you may have to be interviewed by a hearing officer who decides whether you are eligible, and you have the right to appeal a decision when you are determined to be ineligible.
Do you need help obtaining unemployment benefits in Iowa? You will improve your chances of success by working with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the unemployment claims process.
Higgins Law Firm, PLLC has helped countless clients all over Iowa obtain the unemployment benefits they need and deserve. Call (515) 619-9148 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.
Unemployment Laws in Iowa
Under Iowa Code § 96.4, an unemployed individual is eligible to receive benefits when the department finds that the individual:
- Has registered for work at and thereafter has continued to report at an employment office
- Has made a claim for benefits
- Is able to work, is available for work, and is earnestly and actively seeking work
- Has been paid wages for insured work during the individual’s base period in an amount at least 1.25 times the wages paid to the individual during that quarter of the individual’s base period in which their wages were highest
Iowa Code § 96.19.3 defines a base period as “the period beginning with the first day of the five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of an individual’s benefit year and ending with the last day of the next to the last completed calendar quarter immediately preceding the date on which the individual filed a valid claim.”
When it comes to the loss of a job through no fault of their own, such as layoffs in which workers lose jobs because of large reductions in the workforce, people are commonly eligible for unemployment benefits.
People fired for other reasons may have more difficult claims if they were fired for allegedly inappropriate conduct (including misconduct and purposeful actions not in the best interest of the employer). It can also be more difficult to obtain unemployment benefits when a person quit a job unless they left for some kind of conditions such as a dangerous workplace or sexual harassment.
How an Employment Lawyer Can Help You
A lawyer is going to know what is required in your initial application to give yourself the best chance of obtaining unemployment benefits. The attorney can make sure that all of the necessary evidence is submitted for consideration and that any issues of concern are addressed.
In the event that your claim is denied, then a lawyer will also be able to assist with any appeal. Higgins Law Firm, PLLC can assist you with appeals before administrative law judges (ALJs), the Employment Appeal Board (EAB), or the Iowa District Court.
When an employer is trying to fight your unemployment benefits award, an attorney will be able to challenge their claims and prove that you are still entitled to benefits. The lawyer will be able to make sure that you understand all the questions that you are asked and prevent you from making any statements that possibly damage your claim.
What Unemployment Benefits Am I Eligible to Receive?
Under Iowa Code § 96.3.4, an eligible individual’s weekly benefit amount for a week of total unemployment is equal to a fraction of their total wages in insured work paid during the quarter of their base period for which total wages were the highest.
- If a person has no dependents, their weekly benefit will be 1/23 of their high quarter wages up to 53 percent of the statewide average weekly wage
- The weekly benefit for a person with one dependent will be 1/22 of their high quarter wages up to 55 percent of the statewide average weekly wage
- The weekly benefit for a person with two dependents will be 1/21 of their high quarter wages up to 57 percent of the statewide average weekly wage
- The weekly benefit for a person with three dependents will be 1/20 of their high quarter wages up to 60 percent of the statewide average weekly wage
- The weekly benefit for a person with four or more dependents will be 1/19 of their high quarter wages up to 65 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.
Benefits are typically available for a maximum of 26 weeks (half a year), but additional benefits could be available in some cases. When you return to work and are earning less than your weekly benefit amount, you could still be entitled to partial benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Unemployment Benefits
What information do I need when I apply for unemployment benefits?
The Iowa Unemployment Insurance Handbook from Iowa Workforce Development states that the required information needed for beginning the application process includes:
- A person’s Social Security number, the name, address, and phone number of the applicant’s current or most recent employer (which includes part-time employment and work through a temporary or staffing agency)
- The start and end dates for the current or most recent employer
- An Alien Registration Number if the applicant is not a United States citizen
- A DD-214 Member Copy 4 if the applicant served in the United States military during the previous 18 months
- An SF-8 form if the applicant worked for the federal government in the prior 18 months
- The names and Social Security numbers of any dependents (up to four).
What happens after I submit my application for unemployment benefits?
It will usually take several weeks for your application to be processed, but you must continue to file weekly claims even while your application is being processed. These weekly claims have to be filed on time, and you should also make sure to complete your record of work search as required on page 30 of the Iowa Unemployment Insurance Handbook.
Will I continue to receive unemployment insurance benefits if I refuse a job offer?
A job offer will only be considered suitable if it represents a certain percentage of a person’s average weekly wages, which is the high base period quarter divided by 13. Job offers are considered suitable if they are at or above 100 percent of average weekly wages when offered within the first five weeks of a claim, 75 percent when offered during the sixth through 12th weeks of a claim, 70 percent when offered during the 13th through 18th weeks of a claim, and 65 percent when offered after the 18th week of a claim.
Contact a West Des Moines Unemployment Benefits Attorney Today
If you need assistance obtaining unemployment benefits in West Des Moines or a nearby community in Iowa, do not underestimate the importance of legal counsel. A lawyer will be able to help you get all of the benefits you are entitled to.
Higgins Law Firm, PLLC takes pride in helping the people we consider to be our neighbors and friends. We will answer all of your legal questions when you call (515) 619-9148 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.