Unemployment Compensation: Eligibility

Last Updated On: 2/5/2018 3:32:00 PM

View the Unemployment Compensation Toolkit for more information on Unemployment Compensation.

Who is entitled to receive unemployment benefits in WV?

Any one who is eligible and is not disqualified.  

Who is “eligible” to receive unemployment in WV?

Anyone who is unemployed and meets the following requirements:

  1. Is Able to Work; AND
  2. Is Available for Full Time Work; AND
  3. Has registered for work with a WV Job Service Office; AND
  4. Has earned sufficient wages ($2,200) in “covered employment” in the "base period."

What does “able to work” mean?

You must be physically and mentally capable of performing some type of work. If you cannot perform any type of work, then you cannot get unemployment compensation benefits. You will need to apply for disability benefits.

There are situations where a person may be medically unable to do the kind of work they've done in the past. But they may be able to do other kinds of work. For example, a back injury may prevent a person from doing manual labor. But there may be other jobs that person can do, even with the back injury. This person would be considered "Able" to perform employment.

Just because a person has applied for disability benefits does not mean they are disabled. Many applications for disability are turned down. A person cannot be denied benefits on the basis of Disability unless the evidence shows that the person is in fact disabled and cannot perform any work. An application for disability is not enough to show that the person is in fact disabled and cannot perform any work.

What does “available for full time work” mean?

This means you have to be willing to work full time. Not part time. Not intermittent, a little here and a little there. Not “I’ll work if it fits with some other obligations in my schedule, like school or caring for family.” It means Full time. If you limit your search just to part-time jobs, you won’t get unemployment compensation benefits.

For example, suppose a person is in a school or training course. The training is really important to her, because it will give her the possibility of much better jobs in the future. So she would turn down a job if it conflicted with her school schedule or classes. That person is not "available for full-time employment." School has become primary. Employment is secondary.

But suppose the person WOULD take an offered job even if it meant quitting or delaying the school or training. Then she would be considered "available." The employment is primary; the school is secondary.

Simply being in training or education does not necessarily mean the person is not available for full time work. It depends on what the person says when she applies for unemployment benefits. If she says she would take offered full time job, no matter what the conflict with school, then she is “Available for Full Time Work.” If she says she would turn down jobs that conflict with school, then she is not “Available for Full Time Work.”

What is "covered employment," and what is not covered?

Most jobs are covered by the unemployment compensation system. That means that wages earned in these jobs do count for proving eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits.

But some jobs are not covered by the unemployment system. Here are the most common types of jobs that are not covered:

  1. Employees of the U.S. government and elected officials.
  2. Some employees in the farming and agricultural industries.
  3. Employees who perform domestic services in a private home (for example, as a nanny or a live-in housekeeper).
  4. People employed by their own child or spouse.
  5. Young people under age 18 who are employed by their parent.
  6. Some employees of schools, colleges, and universities.
  7. Some employees of a church or other religious organization.

If you fall into one of these categories, check with a neutral and knowledgeable source (preferably a lawyer) before deciding whether to pursue a rejected claim for benefits.

What is the “base period” where I have to have earned at least $2,200 in covered employment?

This is a little tricky. It starts with the concept of a “calendar quarter.” That is, a quarter of a year. The “first quarter” of every year is January, February & March. The “second quarter” is April, May & June. And so on.

The base period is defined in the following steps:

  • the first four calendar quarters
  • out of the five calendar quarters that were completed
  • before the calendar quarter in which the claimant filed for benefits.

Whew, who can understand that? Let’s use an example. Suppose Mary was laid off and filed for unemployment in November 2016.

  • She has filed her claim in the “Fourth Quarter” of 2016. (That is, the months of October, November and December.)
  • Counting backwards, the five quarters that came before the Quarter when Mary filed were 3rd Quarter 2016, and 2nd Quarter 2016, and 1st Quarter 2016, and 4th Quarter 2015, and 3rd Quarter 2015.
  • The “first four” out of those five are: 3rd Quarter 2015 (July, August, September); and 4th Quarter 2015 (October, November, December); and 1st Quarter 2016 (January, February, March); and 2nd Quarter 2016 (April, May, June).

So for Mary, her “base period” is from July 2015 through Jun 2016. If she earned at least $2,200 during that time, from all employers, then she will meet this requirement for unemployment benefits.

Wow, do i have to figure out all this “base period” stuff before I apply?

No. The unemployment system will get all this information from the earnings and tax records submitted by the employers where you worked.

Soon after you file your claim, the unemployment agency will issue a “base period wages” form to you. This will show the amount of wages that you earned during the “base period,” according to the agency’s records.

If you think the agency’s figures are wrong about your earnings, you have the right to object and provide evidence to correct the records.

What if an employer failed to report my wages?

Sometimes the agency information is wrong because one of your employers didn’t report your wages and earnings. That’s the employer’s fault, not yours. But it can affect your eligibility. And it can affect the dollar amount of the weekly unemployment benefits you may get.

You can’t be denied because the employer didn’t follow the rules. If the official records are wrong, you have the right to appeal and present evidence at a hearing to show the truth.

But it will be up to you to prove what you are saying. You will need to provide evidence that you really were employed. Take pay stubs, time sheets, or other proof of employment to your local claims office. You may want to bring witnesses who worked with you. After that, the Unemployment Compensation agency will deal with the employer. If necessary, contact a lawyer.

View the Unemployment Compensation Toolkit for more information on Unemployment Compensation.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.