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West Virginia Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Resource

Phone: (304) 558-4686

File a claim

Unemployment insurance is designed to provide benefits to eligible persons who are temporarily unemployed through no fault of their own, and who would be employed full-time if suitable jobs were available. Unlike public welfare, unemployment insurance is an insurance program. Need for assistance is not a factor that can be considered. Unemployment insurance cannot help you if you are too sick or disabled to work, or if you cannot take a full-time job.

Unemployment insurance is, in many ways, similar in operation to other forms of insurance. In all states, employers pay a tax (the "premium") to cover their workers against involuntary unemployment. Most employers are required to pay this tax. When you work for such employers, you are in "covered employment," and your wages are "covered wages."

The West Virginia Unemployment Compensation Law is your unemployment insurance policy. It specifies the terms and conditions under which you may receive benefits when you become unemployed. Just as your homeowner’s insurance will not compensate you if you suffer a loss that is not covered by your policy, we cannot pay unemployment benefits if you do not meet the requirements set by law.

The following topics explain, in more detail, how unemployment compensation works, and the requirements you must meet to receive benefits.

Here are some things you should know about unemployment compensation. Let’s begin with the basics. Before you can receive unemployment compensation benefits, you must first file a claim and meet these basic requirements.

You must be either totally or partially unemployed as defined in the law.
You must have sufficient wages in employment covered by a state or federal unemployment compensation law.
You must be able to work and available for full-time work.
In addition, if you are totally unemployed, the reason you are no longer working must be considered. Generally, you must be unemployed through no fault of your own. If you are totally unemployed, you must make an active search for work during each week. You are required to register for work with a West Virginia Job Service Office. Also, unless the Commissioner determines you have completed such services or there is justifiable cause for your failure to participate, you must participate in re-employment services offered through the Job Service Office when you are selected for profiling.

It is important that you keep a record of your work search efforts. This record is to include the name and address of each of the businesses you checked with and the name and title of the person you spoke to (if applicable), and the result of the job contact. You must report any earnings or other income you have while claiming benefits. In addition, you must tell us if Job Service asked you to see an employer about work, or if anyone offered you a job.

Your claim must be properly completed and must be filed within certain time limits. From time to time, you may receive a telephone call or a form in the mail, asking questions that will help the unemployment office determine if you are meeting the eligibility requirements. You may be asked to report in person to discuss your work search efforts.

It is important that you fill out all forms as completely and accurately as possible and return these forms promptly. Incomplete or inaccurate information will delay the processing of your claim, and may cause you to lose benefits. Also, be sure to keep any appointments or, if unable to appear when scheduled, inform the local office personnel that you need to reschedule your appointment. Failure to do so could result in denial of benefits.

You are partially unemployed if you were hired as a full-time employee, but your regular hours and earnings are reduced because of circumstances over which you have no control. Special filing procedures are necessary when you are partially unemployed. See Filing for partial unemployment for more information.

You are totally unemployed when you are totally separated from employment, earning no wages, and performing no services. You must tell us if you are self-employed or working for a commission, even if you are not making any money. You must tell us if you are an officer of a corporation or a partner in any business enterprise.

You may do some work and still be eligible for either full or reduced benefits (depending on your earnings). You must tell us about any odd job or part-time work that you are doing when you file a claim. If you quit or are discharged from any job, including part-time or odd job work, you must let us know so that a decision may be made. Quitting or being discharged from a job, even if the employment is only part-time or odd job work, could lead to a denial of unemployment benefits. Also, tell us if you are doing any kind of work without pay.

When you become totally unemployed, you should report to the claims office that serves your area as soon as possible after you lose your job. A list of full-time local claims offices can be found on the inside back cover. Some of these offices offer itinerant service to nearby areas (see Itinerant office locations). Itinerant offices are open for a few hours every two weeks.

You may lose benefits if you delay filing a claim. Report to a full-time claims office during the first week you are totally unemployed, or to an itinerant office the first day it is open after your last day of work. If you fail to file promptly, you may lose credit for any weeks you were off work before you filed your claim.

If you were working outside West Virginia, there is the possibility that you may not be able to return home in time to file promptly. If this is the case, you should file at once in the claims office that serves the area where you were working. Then, report to your regular local office when you return home.

When you file your first claim, be sure to have your Social Security Card with you. You will be asked to provide all employers for whom you worked during the last eighteen (18) months. Be prepared to furnish the dates you worked and the reason you left each employer. Answer all questions as completely and accurately as possible. Your employers will be asked to verify certain information you furnish. How quickly your claim is processed depends, to a large extent, on the accuracy of the information you give us on this first visit.

When you file your initial claim for unemployment compensation benefits, you will be asked to select a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). It is very important that you remember this number. You will need it to access claim information and to file for benefits. If you do forget your PIN, you may contact your local unemployment compensation office by telephone and ask for this number. Local office personnel are authorized to provide you with your PIN one time only. Should you forget your PIN after you have received it by calling, you must report to your local office and show proper identification before you can receive information about your claim.

When you first apply for benefits, you are filing a new claim. This claim will be used to determine if you had sufficient past covered work to establish a benefit year. A benefit year is the 52-week period during which unemployment benefits are available to you. NOTE: Benefit years that begin on the first day of a calendar quarter run fifty-three (53) weeks.

Your benefit year starts on the effective date (beginning date) of your new claim. This date is always a Sunday. If you are totally unemployed, your benefit year normally begins Sunday of the week in which you first file. If your new claim is for partial unemployment, your benefit year begins with the first week for which your employer gives you a Low Earnings Report (see Filing for partial unemployment). To determine when your new claim is effective if you are unemployed because of a labor dispute, see Filing labor dispute claims.

During your benefit year, you are entitled to a weekly benefit amount for weeks you are either totally or partially unemployed and meet all requirements. (The weekly benefit will be reduced if you have deductible income, see Other income.) The maximum amount of unemployment compensation you can receive during your benefit year is your maximum benefit amount. It is equal to twenty-six (26) times your weekly benefit.

Your weekly benefit amount is based on the total covered wages you were paid during your base period. Your base period is a twelve-month period that is determined by the beginning date of your new claim. To establish a benefit year, you must have sufficient covered wages to be monetarily eligible. During your base period, you must have been paid wages of at least $2,200 in covered employment. In addition, you must have been paid wages in at least two quarters of your base period. (A quarter is a three-month period beginning in January, April, July or October.)

After you file your new claim, you will receive a monetary determination. This is a notice of your eligibility, based on past earnings. The monetary determination will show:

The base period used for your claim.
The employers who paid you wages in your base period.
The beginning and ending dates of your benefit year.
If you are eligible, the weekly and total benefit amounts you can receive during your benefit year.
Read your Monetary Determination carefully. Make sure it lists all your base period wages correctly.
If your wages appear to be in error, remember the wages were credited to your account when your paychecks were written, not when you earned the money. This means that wages you earned near the end of one quarter may have been reported in the next quarter. If you had wages that are being transferred from another state, (see Filing combined wage claims), these wages WILL NOT appear on the first determination you receive. They will be shown on a "revised" determination that will be mailed to you after we receive the wages.

If you do not have enough wages for a valid claim, the word "INELIGIBLE" will be checked on the form. If all your base period wages appear on the form, this means you cannot receive benefits at this time. However, you have the right to file another new claim application if you are unemployed in a later quarter. (The base period will be different then.)

If "ELIGIBLE" is checked, you have sufficient wages. The weekly benefit shown on the form is based on the table accompanying this booklet.

CAUTION:An "eligible" monetary determination means only that you had sufficient earnings for your claim to receive further consideration. It does not mean that you have final approval to receive benefits. You must meet all the other requirements explained in this booklet before you can receive benefits.

If you believe that some wages on your determination are listed incorrectly, or if wages are missing, gather your check stubs, W-2 statements or other proof of wages, and report to your local office and request a REDETERMINATION. (A redetermination is a formal recheck of the wages in question.) Continue to file your claims as instructed while your wages are being investigated. You cannot be paid benefits for any week you fail to claim properly. Important: you must notify us immediately if any employers you did not work for appear on your determination. These wages must be removed from your claim. You are responsible for repaying any overpayment caused by such incorrect wages.

If you had a previous West Virginia claim that expired within the past six months, you must requalify by working and earnings at least eight times your old weekly benefit amount. The earnings must be in covered employment.

For example, if the weekly benefit amount on your previous claim was $200, you must have earned at least $1600 in covered employment since the beginning date of that claim to requalify. Benefits cannot be paid on the new claim until you meet this requirement.

If you fail to requalify, we will send you a written notice, called a Deputy’s Decision. The decision will use the term subsequent benefit year to refer to your second benefit year (the one you are filing now).

Unemployment compensation was established to help people who are out of work through no fault of their own. Therefore, if you are unemployed for a reason other than lack of work, the reason you lost your job will have a bearing on whether you are entitled to benefits.

Each time you become unemployed and apply for benefits, we ask you to furnish your reason for being unemployed. We send a copy of your claim application to your last employer (and sometimes to a previous employer). The employer is asked to verify the information you furnished.

If there is a question as to whether you qualify, we will gather the needed facts. Then we will issue a deputy's decision to you and to your affected employer. The decision will tell you whether you are disqualified (denied benefits).

You will be disqualified if the deputy finds that you:

Quit your most recent work voluntarily (even if it is only a part-time or odd job that you have been working while seeking full-time employment) without good cause involving fault on the part of the employer; OR,
Were discharged (fired) from your last job (or sometimes a previous job), for work-related misconduct.
The Deputy’s Decision will list the facts of the case and will explain why you are (or are not) being denied benefits. If you are disqualified, the decision will tell you when the benefit denial period begins and ends. If you disagree with the Deputy’s Decision, you may appeal it. The affected employer also has appeal rights. Please refer to Appeal rights for an explanation of your appeal rights.

The primary purpose of unemployment compensation is to help able-bodied workers meet living expenses between jobs. Therefore, you cannot receive benefits unless you can take suitable full-time work. This means that you must be able to work and available for full-time work for which you are fitted by prior training or experience. You must meet these requirements when you apply for a claim, and during each week you claim while you are unemployed.

You are able to work when you are physically and mentally able to do your usual work.

You are available for work when you are willing to work full-time, are making an honest effort to find work that you are qualified to do, and there is nothing to prevent you from taking a full-time job. (Helpful tips for job seekers can be found in Tips on seeking work. We urge you to read these suggestions.)

You must be able to get to and from work. You must be willing to accept work in the labor market area where you live. (The labor market area consists of any towns and surrounding areas where people in your occupation would normally travel to work.) You cannot set restrictions that rule out much of the work in your field. An example of an unreasonable restriction is demanding more pay than people normally receive for the same kind of work in the area where you are seeking employment. Another example is not being available to work a shift that is common in your occupation.

You must use the methods of seeking work that are customary in your occupation. You must keep a record of your weekly job contacts and be prepared to furnish this record should your claim be selected for a review. If you belong to a union that refers its members to jobs through a hiring hall, you must be a member in good standing and do what your union requires to be subject to call when jobs are available.

In certain professions, submitting resumes is the usual and customary means of obtaining work. If you work in such an occupation, this is a satisfactory method of showing that you are available for work.

As a rule, calling an employer on the telephone to see if a job is available is not a good method of seeking work. You may check want ads, but this does not count as an employer contact unless you make the effort to talk to the person or firm that placed the ad.

Each week, you must try to find work. The number of weekly contacts you should make depends on your occupation and the condition of the labor market. As your length of unemployment increases, you must be willing to expand your work search. This means you may have to consider taking work outside your preferred field, and be willing to accept other jobs for which you are qualified. You also may have to be willing to accept a lower wage than you wanted when you first became unemployed.

IMPORTANT: If you are taking vocational training, some requirements discussed in this topic may not apply. (See Attending school while claiming benefits.) If you are claiming Extended Benefits, there are additional requirements that will be explained when you apply for benefits under that program.

We said that you must be available for suitable work. Many factors are considered in deciding whether a given job is suitable. Among the things we look at are your previous work experience and how long you have been unemployed. We consider any possible risk to your health, safety or morals, and the distance of the work from your home. Also, we consider your fitness for that particular job and the pay offered.

If you fail to accept an offer of suitable work, you will be denied benefits unless you show good cause. If you are disqualified, you will be denied benefits for the week in which you failed to accept the job and the four (4) following weeks. In addition, the total amount of unemployment compensation available to you will be reduced by four (4) times your weekly benefit amount. The same penalty will be applied if you fail, without good cause, to accept a referral to suitable work. (A referral is a written notice instructing you to apply for work with a certain employer. Either your claims office or Job Service may offer you a referral.)

You are required to tell us if you are attending school or taking any kind of training while claiming benefits. You also must tell us if you plan to enroll in school or a training course while you are unemployed.

You may be entitled to benefits while taking vocational training to learn new skills or upgrade existing skills. However, the training must improve your chances of getting a job. If your local office approves such training, you are not required to seek work or accept a job offer while you are taking the training.

If you are attending high school, or taking academic courses at the college level, you may be entitled to benefits. Your eligibility depends on how your schooling affects your availability for full-time work.

The Bureau of Employment Programs offers a number of services to the public in addition to the Unemployment Compensation Program. One of our other services is a statewide system of public employment offices to help jobseekers. A Job Service office often is located in the same building as your claims office.

The primary function of Job Service is to help employers who are seeking workers and applicants who are seeking employment. We bring jobs and applicants together. Many local employers list their openings with Job Service. In addition, you will find both statewide and national listings of selected job openings on the Job Service’s web site. Job Service also offers vocational counseling and other special services. There is no charge for these services.

The term earnings means wages. It includes anything of value you receive in return for services you perform for another. You may earn some wages during a week and still qualify for a benefit payment. However, your benefit may be reduced.

You must report your gross wages (wages before deductions). Do not report take-home pay. If you don’t know the exact amount you earned for a week, ask your employer to give you that information before you file. Never guess or estimate your wages.

You must report all wages you earn during any week for which you claim unemployment benefits. This includes tips, commissions, and wages from odd jobs and part-time work. It also includes income from self-employment. If you are an official in a union or other organization, you must report wages for any work you do, even if you are not paid for that work until after the week(s) you are claiming. If you fail to report wages at the time you do the work, you will be overpaid benefits. In addition, you may be subject to severe penalties. (See Making false statements.)

You also are required to report any work for which you receive something of value instead of cash. For example, if you are working for someone to pay off a debt, or if you do work for your landlord instead of paying rent, that work has cash value. The same is true if you are living with someone who is not a family member, and you work for that person in return for room and board. In these examples, it is the same as being paid cash wages to apply to the rent, debt, etc.

You must report any bonus paid to you during a week you claim, and any vacation pay or holiday pay that applies to a week you claim. (NOTE: Vacation pay is not always deductible income, but still must be reported. Your local office will tell you if your vacation pay will affect your benefits.)

An employer may pay a worker wages for one or more weeks past his or her last day of work to compensate for a layoff with little or no advance notice. If you receive wages in lieu of notice, you must report this payment on your claim. It will affect your benefits in the same manner as if you were working during the week(s) the payment covers.

You must report income from a profit sharing plan sponsored by an employer for whom you worked. Generally, such income is not considered wages and is not deductible unless it is used as all or part of a retirement pension plan.

You are required to report severance pay received from your last employer, but your weekly benefit will not be reduced because you received such pay. (If you are unsure whether a special payment is severance pay or wages in lieu of notice, contact your local office for assistance.)

You must report your wages by the calendar week (Sunday through Saturday). If your employer uses a different payroll week, it is your responsibility to determine what you earned during the calendar week used for your unemployment claim. If you are being paid a monthly salary, ask your local office to help you determine how much to report each week.

If you are reporting income from self-employment, you must report your net profit. This is the amount that remains after you subtract your business expenses from what you were paid.

If you have applied for, or are receiving, a retirement pension or annuity, Social Security old age retirement benefits, or any other type of Social Security benefits, you must report this fact when you apply for benefits. Retirement income is deductible from unemployment benefits if such income is from a fund contributed to by a base period employer. Social Security old age retirement benefits are deductible when they are based on your own work.

If you are receiving a retirement pension or Social Security old age retirement as previously described, your weekly unemployment benefit will be reduced by the weekly amount of this payment. For example, suppose you are receiving a $600.00 monthly retirement pension from a base period employer. To calculate the weekly amount, the monthly amount is multiplied by twelve (12), then divided by fifty-two (52) ($600.00 X 12 = $7200.00 divided by 52 = $138.46. This is the amount that will be deducted. Once that amount is deducted, your weekly benefit amount will be rounded down to the next lower even dollar amount.

Certain pensions are not deductible from your unemployment benefits. Examples include non-retirement disability pensions and widow’s pensions. However, you still must tell us if you have applied for, or are receiving, such income.

You must report all pension income when you apply for benefits. We will advise you how a particular pension affects your claim.

You are not required to report such non-wage income as interest earned on bank savings or investments. You do not have to report rental income, lottery winnings, tax refunds, or money received from the sale of personal property.

You do not have to report money given you by an employer to cover your transportation or your meals and lodging away from home. However, if you are paid your regular wage for travel time to and from work, you must report that income as wages. If you are paid for going to a job site to see if work is scheduled that day, this "show-up" pay is reportable wages.

Any time you are unsure whether income is deductible from your benefits, contact your local office for assistance.

If you receive a back pay award from a former employer, you must report that fact to your local office. Back pay awards are treated as wages earned during the period specified in the Award Notice. Any benefits you received for that period must be repaid. In West Virginia, employers are required to report back pay awards to the Bureau of Employment Programs and to deduct from such awards any unemployment compensation that was paid for the same period. The employer sends us the deducted amount to cancel the overpayment.

You may qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits if you are injured at work. You must tell us if you have applied for, or are receiving, such benefits.

You are not entitled to receive unemployment compensation for any week that you qualify for a temporary total disability payment from a workers’ compensation fund. You are considered not able to work when you are receiving this type of payment. However, if you are receiving permanent disability pay from Workers’ Compensation, you may still be entitled to unemployment benefits. Your eligibility depends on the extent to which your disability limits the work you can do.

We explained that you may do some work during a week and still be entitled to benefits. However, you are ineligible for benefits during any week that you work full-time, even if you have low earnings.

If you are working less than full-time, and meet the other requirements explained in this booklet, you can earn as much as $60.00 and still receive your full weekly benefit amount. Wages of more than $60.00 are deducted from your weekly benefit on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

For example, suppose your gross wages for a certain week are $66.25. This is $6.25 more than you can earn without a reduction. Therefore, we must subtract $6.25 from your benefit payment for that week. Your check will be rounded down to the next lower even-dollar amount. (Other forms of deductible income, such as holiday pay, bonuses, etc. will reduce your weekly benefit in the same manner.)

Please note that if you are receiving deductible pension or retirement income, the full weekly amount of such income must be subtracted from your weekly benefit.

Any deduction from your weekly benefit because of earnings, etc. remains in your benefit account, and may extend the number of weeks for which you can be paid during your benefit year. So, it is to your advantage to accept part-time work or odd jobs whenever they are offered to you. However, if you are separated from your part-time or odd job employment for any reason other than lack of work, a decision will have to be made regarding your continuing entitlement to unemployment benefits.

Before we issue a deputy’s decision, we give all interested parties a fair opportunity to present facts that have a bearing on the issue. If you and an employer disagree on the facts of the case, we may ask both of you to come to our office for an informal discussion, called a hearing before the deputy. (If the employer is outside the area we serve, we may conduct the hearing by telephone.) You will be sent a written notice if a hearing is scheduled. This notice will tell you the date and time of the in-person or telephonic hearing and will give you more detailed information about the hearing.

You will not begin receiving benefits until you serve a one-week unpaid waiting period. There is only one such waiting period during each benefit year. You will not have to serve another waiting period if you have additional periods of unemployment within the same benefit year. You should not confuse the waiting period with a week that is "held back," to be paid later. You can never receive a payment for the waiting period.

You cannot serve the waiting period before you apply for unemployment benefits. This is one reason why you should always file as soon as you lose your job. Also, you cannot serve the waiting period during any week for which you are denied benefits. The waiting period is the first week in your benefit year during which you meet all requirements to receive a payment.

You have the right to appeal any Deputy’s Decision you believe is incorrect. If you wish to file an appeal, you must do so within the time limit set by law. A Deputy’s Decision becomes final unless you or the employer named in the decision appeals within eight (8) calendar days from the date the decision was mailed.

You may file an appeal on a regular form that is available in your local office (we will help you prepare this), or you may write a letter to your local office. The filing date of an appeal sent by mail is the postmark date. Be sure to sign your letter and include your Social Security number and the date the decision was made. You do not have to tell us why you believe the Deputy’s Decision is incorrect. All you need only say is that you want to appeal it.

IMPORTANT: Continue to file your claim while the decision is under appeal. If you win your appeal, you can only be paid for weeks you claimed according to Agency regulations. (See Completing a claim form.)

Appeal hearings are scheduled and conducted by the Bureau of Employment Programs’ Board of Review. The Board will send you a written notice telling you the time, date, and location set for your hearing. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will conduct the hearing. You will be permitted to give testimony on your own behalf, and you may bring witnesses to give additional testimony. If you wish, you may be represented by an attorney. (The Board will review the amount the attorney charges you to make certain the fee is not excessive.) The employer named in the decision that is under appeal also will be notified and has the right to attend the hearing and give testimony.

NOTE: Some ALJ hearings may be conducted by telephone instead of in person. By using a conference call, the ALJ will ensure that each party can hear the testimony given by all parties.

If you have a good reason for not being able to attend a hearing, you may ask the Board of Review to reschedule the hearing for a later date. Your local office can help you make this request. If you fail, without good cause, to attend a hearing you requested, your appeal will be dismissed. If you fail, without good cause, to attend a hearing requested by an employer, you will give up the right to tell your side of the story. The ALJ will consider only the evidence presented by the employer.

The ALJ will issue a new decision based on the evidence gathered at the hearing. This decision may affirm (uphold) the decision the Deputy made or it may modify or reverse it. If the ALJ’s decision is not in your favor, you have the right to appeal to the Board of Review again. The ALJ’s decision will include appeal instructions. An appeal must be filed within eight (8) calendar days from the date the decision was issued.

The ALJ’s decision also may be appealed by the interested employer or by the Bureau of Employment Programs. If the decision is appealed, the Board of Review will schedule a hearing, usually at the Board office in Charleston. Normally, it will not be necessary for you to appear at this second hearing. In most cases, the Board only reviews the evidence that was presented to the ALJ. However, you will be notified of the time and date of the hearing. Your notice will include instructions explaining how Board hearings are conducted and other information you will need if you decide to attend. The Board of Review may affirm, modify, or reverse the decision made by the ALJ. The Board’s decision may be appealed to the courts.

Again, we wish to stress that you should continue to file your claims if you remain unemployed while your case is under appeal. You can only be paid benefits for weeks you claim in the proper manner.

If the Deputy, the ALJ, the Board of Review, or a court holds that you are entitled to benefits, you will be paid whatever is due you when that decision is made, even if the decision is appealed. However, if you lose your case at the highest level your case reaches in the appeals process, you must repay any benefits you received for the specified denial period.

To receive benefits for total unemployment you must file a claim for payment each two weeks while you are unemployed. Your first weekly claim form will be mailed to you shortly after you file an application to begin or reopen a claim. Beginning with your first benefit payment, a claim form for the following two weeks will be included with each check. If, for some reason, we cannot send you a check after you file a claim, we will still send you another claim form for the following two weeks.

NOTE: It is your responsibility to notify your local office if you do not receive another weekly claim form within ten (10) days after you file your last claim. We can send you another form, or you can pick one up at your local office.

Carefully follow the instructions given at the Benefit Rights Interview. Failure to follow these instructions may result in a delay or denial of benefits.

When you come in to your local unemployment compensation office to file your initial claim for benefits, you will be instructed on how to file for your first two weeks of unemployment. You will be asked to report in person to file your first claim form. However, all other weeks may be filed by telephone by calling (304) 558-4686 or for the hearing impaired (TDD), by calling (304) 558-6046, or through our Bureau’s Internet web site, http://www.state.wv.us/bep or by accessing our direct web address, http://www.wvuc.org . These options are available to you through our INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE (IVR) System. You may, of course, file by mail, if you prefer that method of filing, or if neither telephone nor web filing is available to you. Whether filing by telephone, web site or mail, you must file your claim within the time period specified.

When claiming two weeks of benefits, whether filing by mail, by telephone, via the web or in person, you must not file your claim prior to the week ending date shown in WEEK 2. If you attempt to file your claim earlier than this date or later than specified, you may be denied benefits. (See Early or late weekly claim filing.)

When filing your claim by telephone, you must have your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and Social Security number available or you will not be able to complete the filing process. Also, you should have a pen or pencil and paper to write down any information you receive from the IVR.

The IVR telephone system will ask you questions relating to your availability for work during the weeks you are claiming, your work search, any income or earnings you may have had during the weeks, and various other topics. To record your answer to each question, you are to press "1" for "yes" and "2" for "no." If you want to have a question repeated, press the pound (#) key.

After answering the questions for each week, you must certify that you were able and available for, and actively seeking full-time work. Additionally, you must certify that you reported all work performed and wages earned, including earnings for self-employment, during the week(s) you are claiming. You are also certifying that you are aware that making false statements in order to obtain or increase or to attempt to obtain or increase unemployment benefits is unlawful and doing so could result in penalties as severe as criminal prosecution.

Do not end your telephone claim until after you hear:

"You have successfully completed filing a claim for unemployment compensation benefits for the week ending ______."

You will hear this phrase for each week you are claiming benefits.

When filing your claim by Internet, you must access either our agency’s web site http://www.wvuc.state.wv.us/bep or link directly to the Internet IVR filing system http://www.wvuc.org

If you choose to use the agency’s web site, you may access IVR filing by selecting "Apply for unemployment" in the "How to" box or by clicking on the "Claimants" or "Unemployment Compensation" categories on the web site. Once you have accessed the IVR system, follow the instructions given for filing your claim.

NOTE: If the IVR system (telephone or Internet) is unable to process your claim, you will be notified to contact your local unemployment compensation office.

When filing your claim by mail, you must file your claim within three (3) days after the end of the week(s) you are claiming. For example, you must mail the claim on the Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday after the end of WEEK 2 if you are claiming both weeks shown on the claim form. Your claim is considered filed as of the date it is postmarked. If you file late, you may be denied benefits.

CAUTION: Do not phone your claim in if you have been instructed to file it in person. Take the claim to the front counter and give it to an interviewer who will tell you if you need to see anyone else or complete other forms.

We try to pay all claims promptly. We make most payments within a week. However, we cannot guarantee that you will always receive your check that soon. When many people are filing at the same time or when a holiday occurs, your local office cannot process payments as quickly. If many people call inquiring when they will receive their check while a local office is processing a backlog of claims, the work is slowed due to the time local office staff must spend on telephone. This only further delays payments. Therefore, you should wait ten (10) days before you contact your local office to inquire about a check.

NOTE: Continued claims filed by telephone are processed through the INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE (IVR) System. Therefore, if you are successful in filing your continued claim by telephone, your check for benefits could be written the same day you file and then mailed the next morning. For this to occur, you must file prior to five o’clock in the evening. In order to receive your check in the shortest amount of time, you should file before 5:00 p.m. on the Sunday following the two-week period you are claiming.

If you don’t receive a benefit check within ten (10) days after you file a weekly claim, notify your local office. If ten (10) days have passed since we issued your check, we will ask you to report to the local office to file a "missing check report." The office staff will tell you what further action needs to be taken.

Before you cash a benefit check, look at the pay amount. Make sure that it is correct for the weeks you claimed. (The period the check covers is shown on the attached stub.) If you reported earnings and the pay amount doesn’t seem right, notify your local office immediately. Do not throw away the stubs attached to your checks. Keep them for your records. You may need these stubs if you are required to give another agency information about your unemployment benefits. Also, you should bring all stubs to your local office if you think you did not receive all benefits you claimed.

As we explained earlier, your continued claim for unemployment benefits should be filed on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday following the week(s) you are claiming. If you cannot file your claim within that three-day period, and you have good cause for the delay, the filing period may be extended.

If you are due a final benefit when you return to full-time work, you must file within ten (10) days of the regular filing day. This limit applies to all reasons for late filing. If, for some reason (such as illness, out-of-state seeking work, death in the family, etc.), you are unable to file your claim on time, you must file within ten (10) days of your regular filing date.

If filing your continued claim by telephone or via our web site, the IVR system will accept the week(s) you are claiming if you file no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday following the week(s). If you attempt to file after this deadline, the IVR system will reject the week(s) and you will have to report to your local office in person to give a statement concerning your late filing. If you can show good cause for your late filing, the week(s) will be processed and, as long as you meet all other requirements, you will be paid benefits.

If filing your continued claim by mail, answer the questions and, on the back under "Remarks," briefly explain why you are filing late. Be sure to include dates which you may have not been able, available, and seeking full-time work, if any. Also, give the date when you were again able, available, and seeking work, if necessary.

If you must file late due to illness, you may be asked to furnish a doctor’s statement. This doctor’s statement must specify the date you went under a doctor’s care, the nature of the illness (unless the information is privileged or confidential), and the date you were released as able to work again. If you did not see a doctor and you are filing by mail, show the time period covered by your illness in the "Remarks" section of your claim form.

If you are claiming partial benefits (see Filing for partial unemployment), you must complete and file your Low Earnings Report within ten (10) days of the date you received the form from your employer.

We cannot, under any circumstances, accept any type of claim that is filed early. The earliest a claim can be filed is the day following the end of the week(s) you are claiming. Any claim dated, posted, brought in to a claims office early will be returned to you with instructions to file within the prescribed time guidelines. If you attempt to call in a claim early, the IVR system will inform you that you have no outstanding benefit weeks to claim.

You are entitled to claim unemployment benefits only until you return to full-time work. You cannot continue to receive benefits until you receive your first paycheck from your new job. Use the following examples to determine how to file your last claim when you begin a full-time job. The weeks referred to in the examples are the weeks shown on the most recent claim form you received.

Example 1: You start to work Sunday or Monday of WEEK 1. In this situation, you are not entitled to claim further benefits. Do not file the claim. (It is not necessary to telephone us, access us on the web site or send us a claim just to show that you are back at work.)

Example 2: You start to work between Tuesday and Saturday of WEEK 1. Depending on how much you earn during that week, you may be entitled to a benefit for WEEK 1. You may either complete the claim form and mail it in, file by telephone, or file through the web site to claim WEEK 1 only. Your payment, if one is due, will be calculated as explained earlier in this booklet.

Example 3: You start to work Sunday or Monday of WEEK 2. You are entitled to benefits for WEEK 1. Complete your claim form and file it by whichever method you find most convenient, claiming that week only.

Example 4: You start to work between Tuesday and Saturday of WEEK 2. You are entitled to benefits for WEEK 1. You may be entitled to benefits for WEEK 2, depending on your earnings for that week. Complete your claim form and file it, claiming both weeks. Your payment for WEEK 2, if one is due, will be calculated.

NOTE: IF you are claiming WEEK 1 only, you may file the claim immediately after the end of that week.

Never estimate your earnings. If you don’t know your exact earnings for a week you are claiming, obtain that information from your employer before you complete the claim. Please keep in mind that, in the examples listed, we assumed that you met all the requirements explained in this booklet during the week(s) we said you were entitled to benefits.

Your claim will become inactive when you return to full-time work, or when you stop filing weekly claims for any reason. However, whatever balance is left in your account will still be there to draw on if you need to file again during the same benefit year.

If you become unemployed again, you must report in person to your local office and reopen your claim. Report unemployment as soon as possible. You may lose benefits if you delay reopening your claim. (Follow the instructions shown in Applying for benefits. The same principles to reopening a claim also apply to making a new claim application.) Be prepared to give us the names, mailing addresses, and the dates you worked for every employer you had since your last claim. Also, the reason you are unemployed will affect your claim in the same way as when you first filed your claim.

You must reopen your claim if you move to a different state. Also, you must reopen your claim if you stopped filing for some reason other than going back to work, and you wish to start claiming benefits again.

You must reopen your claim if you are discharged from, or quit any employment, including part-time or casual work you pick up while you are filing weekly claims. The deputy must issue a decision that may affect your benefit entitlement in such cases.

If you move to a different area while you are unemployed, you must report to the Unemployment Compensation Office that serves your new location. You should do this as soon as possible. If you move to a different area of West Virginia, your new claims office will transfer your records from your old office. If you move out of state, you will be filing INTERSTATE claims. (See Filing interstate claims.) Always take identification and any forms that you received concerning your claim when you report to a different local office. This makes it easier for that office to decide how to process your claim, so that you will continue to receive benefits without undue delay.

If you change your mailing address, but continue to live in the area served by the same local office, notify your local office immediately. You may report the address change by telephone, mail, or in person. If you choose to do the address change over the telephone, you must provide your Personal Identification Number (PIN). The Postal Service does not forward unemployment compensation checks. If you are not at the address shown on the check, the Postal Service will return the check to us.

Even if you change your address after you stopped filing for benefits, you should notify us of your new address so that you will receive the 1099-G statement you will need to use for income tax purposes.

If you worked in more than one state during the past eighteen (18) months, you may qualify for benefits in one of those states (or, you may qualify for a combined wage claim). Every state has its own wage requirements and not all states use the same base period as West Virginia. Your local office can give you information about the unemployment compensation laws in other states. If you want to file an interstate claim, we can take your application and forward it to the state you wish to file against.

NOTE: Many states use an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and, therefore, may require claimants to file for benefits using the telephone. Your local office will tell you if the state you are filing against is one of these states and provide you with a telephone number to use when claiming benefits.

If you have a West Virginia claim and move to a different out-of-state area, report immediately to the most convenient local office in that state and reopen your claim. Your records will be transferred from your former West Virginia local office to our interstate local office in Charleston. That office will process your claims.

You must report all unemployment compensation when you file your state and federal income taxes. However, you may, if you choose to, have ten percent (10%) of your benefit amount withheld for federal income tax purposes. All claimants that receive unemployment compensation benefits will be sent Form 1099-G before January 31 of each year. The form will show the amount of unemployment benefits you were paid during the prior calendar year and the amount of federal income tax withheld. It is your responsibility to determine the amount of additional tax you owe, if any, and pay it.

Your 1099-G shows benefit checks written during the year in question, not claims filed during that year. For example, suppose you were unemployed two (2) weeks in December 1999, and filed a claim for those weeks on December 27, 1999. Your benefit check was written and mailed to you on January 3, 2000. That payment would be considered 2000 income and you would pay tax on it when you filed your 2000 income tax returns.

It is your responsibility to tell us if you change your mailing address. We need this information to send you your Form 1099-G each January.

Obtaining information about your claim

From time to time, you may have questions about your claim. When this occurs, we encourage you to call our Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system at (304) 558-4686 or (304) 558-6046 for the hearing impaired. This system, which provides basic information regarding the status of your claim, is available twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week. In order to access the IVR system, you must have your Social Security number and your Personal Identification Number (PIN) handy.

Another means of obtaining claims information is through the Internet. The West Virginia Bureau of Employment Programs has a web site at http://www.state.wv.us/bep or at http://www.wvuc.org that provides the same data the IVR does. If, however, your questions cannot be answered by the IVR telephone system or by visiting our web site, the staff at your local office will be happy to answer your questions, but only if you contact us. It is against the law for us to give information about your claim to your spouse, other family members, or friends. Be sure to have your PIN and Social Security number available when you call the local office. Also, when telephoning, do not call collect. We cannot accept collect calls.

If you are unable to obtain the information you need through the IVR system (telephone or web site) or by telephoning the local office during local office hours and you cannot make an in-person visit, you can write your local office. When writing, please specify what information you need and be sure to include your Social Security number. Also, be sure to sign your letter. We will send you a written response.

Unemployment Compensation Claims offices:

P.O. Box 1577
Beckley, WV 25802

Mercer County
195 Davis Street, Suite 104
Princeton, WV 24740

P.O. Box 2753
Charleston, WV 25330

P.O. Box 1960
Clarksburg, WV 26302

1 Pleasant Avenue, Suite 3
Elkins, WV 26241

P.O. Box 1468
Fairmont, WV 26555

Greenbrier Valley
20 Red Oaks Shopping Center
Ronceverte, WV 24970

P.O. Box 1640
Huntington, WV 25717

P.O. Box 1619
Logan, WV 25601

P.O. Box 905
Martinsburg, WV 25402

P.O. Box 350
Moorefield, WV 26836

304 Scott Avenue
Morgantown, WV 26505

New Martinsville
P.O. Box 430
New Martinsville, WV 26155

P.O. Box 658
Parkersburg, WV 26102

Pt. Pleasant
P.O. Box 39
Pt. Pleasant, WV 25550

P.O. Box 100
Summersville, WV 26651

P.O. Box 2247
Weirton, WV 26062

P.O. Box 689
Welch, WV 24801

P.O. Box 6118
Wheeling, WV 26003

P.O. Box 10
Williamson, WV 25661

P.O Box 2761
Charleston, WV 25330

Source: West Virginia Bureau of Employment Programs