Unemployment Insurance FAQ

Eligibility


I am unable to work due to COVID-19. Am I eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI)?
  • If you have been laid off, or your hours have been reduced, you may be eligible for regular unemployment insurance.
  • If you are an independent contractor, gig worker, self-employed, or a small business owner, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the new federal program that expands unemployment insurance eligibility to individuals who are not ordinarily covered by the regular UI program.
  • If you were denied regular unemployment insurance because of monetary ineligibility (i.e. insufficient qualifying wages/inconsistent employment history), you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
  • If your place of employment remains open, but you are unable to work as a direct result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation, if and only if, you can demonstrate good cause for voluntarily leaving your job when work is available.
How should I apply for these programs?

Please apply on our online at dlt.ri.gov. Those applying for regular unemployment insurance should apply via our standard application, found here.

Those applying for emergency benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance should file here.

What information will I need to file a UI claim?
You will need to provide your Social Security Number and the full name, address and telephone number of all employers you have worked for in the last two years. If you are not a United States citizen, you must provide your alien registration number. This guide will help prepare you.
What types of workers are eligible for regular unemployment insurance (UI)?

Most Rhode Island workers, on payroll, are covered by UI. Employer payroll taxes fund UI for all private, for- profit businesses. Public sector workers and employees of non-profit organizations are covered as well; however, their employers may opt to pay claims directly instead of contributing via payroll taxes. Business owners most likely qualify if they are also on payroll.

What about independent contractors, self-employed individuals, or gig-economy workers? Are they eligible to collect?

Normally independent contractors and self-employed individuals would not be eligible to collect, but as a result of recently passed federal legislation, those workers should apply for unemployment compensation through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance here.

I live in Rhode Island, but I work in another state. Where should I file for unemployment?

You should file for unemployment insurance in the state in which you work. Here are the websites for our neighboring states’ unemployment insurance applications:

I still have a job, but my hours were cut significantly. Am I eligible for any benefits?

If your hours are reduced, you may be eligible for partial benefits if you are being paid less than what your weekly Unemployment Insurance benefit amount would be if you were to be totally unemployed. Those applying for regular unemployment insurance should apply via our standard application, found here.

I still work my full-time job but have been laid off from my part-time job. Am I eligible for any benefits?

If you are working full-time, you are likely ineligible for Unemployment Insurance.

What are the wage requirements?

To qualify for regular unemployment insurance, you must have been paid at least $12,600 in either your base period or an alternate base period. Normally, your base period consists of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the starting date of your new claim. If you did not earn this amount, you may be eligible if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • 1. You were paid at least $2,100 in one of your base period quarters, and
  • 2. You were paid total base period taxable wages of at least one and one-half times your highest single quarter earnings, and
  • 3. You were paid total base period taxable wages of at least $4,200.

Also, if you have had a previous claim, you must have worked again since filing that claim and must have been paid taxable wages of at least eighty times the R.I. minimum hourly wage of $10.50, or $840.

What is a base period?

The base period is the period we look at to determine if you have been paid sufficient wages to be monetarily eligible. Normally, your base period consists of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the starting date of your new claim. The calendar quarters are:

January 1 through March 31
April 1 through June 30
July 1 through September 30
October 1 through December 31

If wages from one of these quarters had to be used to establish a previous claim using the alternate base period, that quarter's wages cannot be used again to compute your current claim. If you submit a new claim and you do not meet the minimum earnings requirements in the regular base period, we will re-compute your claim using an alternate base period. This period consists of the last four completed calendar quarters before the starting date of your claim. While you must still meet the same overall earnings requirements, the alternate base period will allow some of your more recent wages to be counted towards establishing your claim.

How much will I receive in weekly benefits?

Your weekly benefit rate will be equal to 3.85% of the average of the total wages in the two highest quarters of the base period, not to exceed the defined maximum amount. Effective 7/1/19, the minimum is $53 and maximum is $586, not including dependency allowance. Your weekly benefit rate remains the same throughout your benefit year.

If you have dependent children under 18 years of age you may be entitled to a dependency allowance. Children with disabilities over the age of 18 may also qualify for the allowance. The dependency allowance is limited to 5 dependents and is equal to 5% of your weekly benefit rate for each dependent. There is a $15 minimum per dependent.

What about the extra $600 that the U.S. congress passed?

Every claimant receiving unemployment compensation will receive an additional $600 per week through the end of July 2020. However, if a claimant is working part time and they do not receive their weekly benefit amount because they earn more in wages, they also will not be paid the additional $600 that week.

How long can I collect unemployment?

The duration of your claim is equal to 33% of your total base period wages divided by your basic weekly benefit rate (not including dependent's allowance). The most you are allowed to collect is an amount equal to 26 full weeks. You may claim these weeks any time you are unemployed during your benefit year.

Can I collect unemployment benefits if I'm receiving a pension? If I owe child support?

Any private pension that you are receiving from a base period employer may be deducted from your benefit rate.

If you owe child support payments, a deduction may be made from your benefit check and sent to the Office of Child Support Services.

Can I collect unemployment while on jury duty?

If you are currently receiving unemployment, you may continue to collect benefits while on jury duty, providing you do not earn more than your benefit rate. You must report the weekly jury duty stipend when requesting unemployment benefits for that week. If you are also working part-time while on jury duty, you must combine all earnings for the reporting week.

If you are called for jury duty while you are fully employed, you may not collect unemployment benefits as you are still attached to the employer and do not meeting the definition of an unemployed individual.

Can I collect unemployment while collecting Workers' Compensation?

No. You cannot collect both programs at the same time. In order to collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits you must be able, available and actively looking for work.

Once you are released from Workers' Compensation, if you are unemployed, you can file for Unemployment benefits. You will need to be able and available for full time work and released from your doctor with written authorization to return to work. Eligibility will be determined after you file a claim.

Can I collect unemployment while collecting Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI)?

No. You cannot collect both programs at the same time. To collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits, you must be able, available, and actively seeking full-time work. Once you are released from TDI, if you are unemployed, you can file for unemployment benefits. You will need to be able and available for full-time work and released from your doctor with written authorization to return to full-time work. Eligibility will be determined after you file a claim.

Can I collect UI benefits if I receive severance pay?

You will have your payment delayed by the number of weeks of severance pay received from your employer. Any severance pay received will be allocated on a weekly basis from your last day of work for a period not to exceed 26 weeks.

You will be eligible for a partial payment if your weekly severance amount is less than your benefit rate. If this is the case, the weekly severance amount will be deducted for the number of weeks of severance pay received.

Your employer should provide the severance amount and the number of weeks that the severance represents. If your employer does not provide this information, the severance pay will be allocated using your benefit rate.

I’m still not sure whether or not I’m eligible. What should I do?
You should still apply for UI; there’s no penalty for applying. Fill out the online application and DLT will let you know for sure.

Refusal to Work

My employer is reopening, or I’ve been offered a new job, but I can't return to work. Can I still collect UI benefits?

If your employer reports your refusal to work, then you'll need to demonstrate "good cause" to continue receiving benefits.

What is "good cause" to collect UI if I refuse employment?

“Good cause” may include:

  • You've tested positive for COVID-19
  • Your doctor recommends you stay home because you're high risk
  • You need to care for children due to school/daycare closures

For more information, please see the Returning to Work Fact Sheet.


Claim Information


My claim still hasn’t been processed. What should I do? Should I call the call center?

You should not call the call center to check on the status of your claim. If you received a confirmation number, then your claim has been received and is being worked on. The UI team will reach out directly if they need any more information from you. Please allow the lines to be open for people with urgent issues that the UI team will need to address.

My coworkers applied for Unemployment Insurance at the same time as me, but their claims have been processed and mine hasn’t. Why is this?
If you have a confirmation number, your claim has been received and is being worked on. You should not reapply as this might further delay your payment. For some context, there are two paths a claim can take. If the claim is straightforward, it might be processed automatically. That can take as little as 24 hours. If it needs any kind of staff review (for complex employment history or sources of income, for example), it will take more time – typically 7-14 days. The UI team will reach out directly if they need any additional info, and you will receive an email as soon as your claim has been processed. Again, please refrain from calling the call center to check on the status of your claim.
Why is my claim taking a long time to process?

There are several reasons a decision on your claim may be delayed:

  • Confirming out of state wages – if you have worked out of state, we must request your wage records from that state, which can slow down the processing.
  • Alternate calculation of benefits – if you do not have qualifying wages in the standard “base period,” we will run an alternate calculation or even wait to the start of the next quarter to review new wage records.
  • Errors on the initial claim – A typo on your date of birth or social security number may delay processing.
  • Adjudication – if there are questions about your reason for separation, or other details of your claim, a staff member may request additional information or an interview to determine your eligibility
What is my BYE number?

You will receive your BYE (Benefit Year Ending) number as soon as your claim has been processed. You will not need it before that. Once your claim has been processed, your BYE number will be on your Claim Status page.
How do I receive payments?

Once you've filed a UI claim, you must certify for your weekly benefit payment every week you are unemployed or under-employed using UI Online/TeleCert. More information on certification can be found under UI Online below.

When you initially file, you will have the option to select your payment method, either direct deposit or electronic payment card (EPC). We strongly recommend payment via direct deposit to reduce delays in receiving your benefit. Once a payment has been authorized, it is generally deposited in 48 hours.

I am unemployed due to COVID-19. Do I still need to post my resume and apply for three jobs per week?
If you are out of work due to COVID-19, then the work search is waived. But if you were already unemployed, then you must still conduct the work search.

UI Online (formerly Teleserve)


What is UI Online and when should I start using it?

Beginning with the week indicated on your UI Online Payment Instructions, you must use UI Online or TeleCert every week you are requesting benefits. You will need your BYE date, your social security number and your 4-digit PIN to certify for weekly benefits.

You can certify your payments online using UI Online or by calling 401-415-6772. Certification can be done any day of the week, Sunday through Saturday.

Why didn't I receive a payment for the first week I was on Unemployment?

You must serve a 7-day unpaid waiting period at the start of your new claim. The 7-day period is a Sunday through Saturday in which your earnings are less than your Benefit Rate. Note: The 7-day waiting period is waived for claims related to COVID-19.

How do I report any earnings I made working part-time?

When you use UI Online, you must report the gross wages you earned Sunday through Saturday of the prior week. Total gross wages include, but are not limited to, commission, bonus, stipends, vacation, tips, and overtime pay. You do not need a paystub to report your gross wages. To determine the gross wages you earned for the previous week, take your hourly rate and multiply it by the number of hours you worked. If you received commission or bonus pay during the previous week, add this to your calculation.

How long will it be before I receive a payment?

Payment is transferred to your direct deposit account or Electronic Payment Card (EPC) approximately 48 business hours after you request a payment. Should a bank holiday occur during a week, your payment will be delayed an additional 24 business hours.

What if I forget to contact UI Online on Sunday?

You can contact UI Online any day of the week; it doesn't have to be Sunday. You can certify on another day instead, and you will receive your payment approximately 48 hours after certifying. If you miss an entire week of certifying through UI Online, though, you must re-file your claim.

Why is my benefit amount less than the amount indicated in my Benefit Rate Decision letter?

If you choose to have your taxes withheld, are working part-time, or have other deductible income your benefit rate and dependency allowance will be reduced.

Why would UI Online require me to update my status or refile my claim?

If you earn zero wages during a week, you are considered “totally unemployed.” If you earn part-time wages during a week, you are considered “part-time unemployed.” If your status changes from part-time unemployed to totally unemployed and does not change back to part-time unemployed within three weeks, you will be prompted during your next UI Online certification to re-file your claim.

What do I do if I have forgotten my Personal Identification Number (PIN) or wish to change my PIN?

For security reasons, we cannot establish a new PIN for you. You must call 401-415-6772 during operating hours to choose a new PIN that only you know. You may also establish or change your PIN online. Click here to do so.

Do I need to notify the Department if my address changes?

Yes. Prior to your next use of UI Online, you must provide your new address here or by contacting the Call Center at (401) 415-6772.

I tried using UI Online (aka Teleserve) but I get an error message. What should I do?

Check your claim status page or mailings from the Department. Make sure that

  • 1) your claim has been processed
  • 2) you’re in the correct date range to begin using UI Online

If your claim hasn’t been processed, or you’re not in the right date range, then you will just need to wait for the claim to process or for the right date; you do not need to call. If the issue persists, please fill out out our support request form here.

Would there be a week when I don't need to use UI Onlne?

You do not need to contact UI Online if you have returned to work full-time. Instead, you are required to complete and mail the Return to Work Form sent to you when you filed your claim.

You do not need to contact UI Online if you are not requesting benefits for the prior week.

Customers collecting WorkShare (WS), Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA), or Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) do not need to contact UI Online.


Appeals and Adjudication


What is an adjudication interview?

An adjudication interview is a fact-finding telephone interview conducted by the Central Adjudication Unit (CAU). On the day of the interview, an adjudicator (investigator) will contact you and your employer (if necessary) to obtain the facts relating to the issue. A decision whether to allow or deny benefits will be based upon the facts obtained, the Unemployment Insurance laws, and the documentation provided.

Why do I need an adjudication interview?

An adjudication interview is a fact-finding telephone interview conducted by the Central Adjudication Unit (CAU). On the day of the interview, an adjudicator (investigator) will contact you and your employer (if necessary) to obtain the facts relating to the issue. A decision whether to allow or deny benefits will be based upon the facts obtained, the Unemployment Insurance laws, and the documentation provided.

How will I know if I need an adjudication interview?

You will receive written notification of the date and time of the scheduled telephone interview.

What do I need to do while my adjudication interview is pending?

You must continue to use the UI Online payment system via the Internet at UI Online or over the phone at 401-415-6772. Payments will be issued if you are eligible for benefits.

You may also complete a fact-finding questionnaire to expedite the adjudication process. Click here to access them.

What if I am denied benefits?

If you are denied benefits and disagree with the decision you may appeal the decision and must do so in writing within fifteen (15) days of the mailing date of the decision. CAU decisions may be appealed online at https://www.uiinfo.ri.gov/riuiweb2/AppealDecision.aspx, by submitting a request in writing to the Central Adjudication Unit at PO Box 20067, Cranston, RI 02920-0941 or by FAX at (401) 462-8318.

Why would I be denied unemployment benefits?

You may be denied benefits if you become unemployed for reasons other than lack of work.

If you quit your job without good cause, you will be denied benefits until you work and earn an amount equal to or greater than eight times your benefit rate and are unemployed through no fault of your own.

If you are fired for proved misconduct connected with your job, you will be denied benefits uuntil you work and earn an amount equal to or greater than eight times your benefit rate and are unemployed through no fault of your own.

If you refuse a suitable job offer, you will be denied benefits until you work and earn an amount equal to or greater than eight times your benefit rate and are unemployed through no fault of your own.

If you become unemployed because of a labor dispute, you may be denied benefits.

Whenever a question arises about your eligibility for benefits, you will have an opportunity to present your side of the case. You may bring witnesses or someone to represent you. You should bring any documents or other evidence that will support your claim. You will receive a decision that will either approve your claim or tell you why, and for how long, you are denied benefits. You have the RIGHT TO APPEAL any decision with which you do not agree. Decisions may be appealed ONLINE, by submitting a request in writing to the Central Adjudication Unit at PO Box 20067, Cranston, RI 02920-0941 or by FAX at (401) 462-8318.

You may email questions about adjudications to DLT.uihelp@dlt.ri.gov. Please place “Adjudication” in the email subject line. Your case will be assigned to a Referee (Hearing Officer) at the Board of Review who will schedule a hearing at which time you may state your argument in detail. Information on preparing your case, and the procedure for an appeals hearing can be found on the Board of Review website. The Board is an impartial authority not under the direction of the Department of Labor and Training.

What if I have a question after my appeal has been filed?

Once an appeal is filed, the case will be referred to a Referee at the Board of Review. Information on preparing your case and the procedure for a Referee hearing can be found on the Board of Review website. The Board is an impartial authority not under the direction of the Department of Labor and Training. If you are pending a decision from a Referee at the Board of Review, you may email questions to DLT.BOR@dlt.ri.gov


Overpayment


Am I required to re-pay the overpayment?

Yes. If you have an overpayment, you are required to pay back these benefits. If you do not repay your overpayment it will be recovered by future benefits, your tax refund(s), lottery winnings, or a referral to a collection agency.

RI State taxes can be taken for all overpayments. Federal taxes may be intercepted for all overpayments if a repayment agreement and payment is not received within 60 days of mailing date of the TOP (Treasury Offset Program) letter. It is important to update the Department with any address changes.

Can I file a claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits if I have an overpayment?

You may file a claim for benefits. However, if you are eligible for a claim and requesting weekly payments the Department will deduct the money owed from your weekly Unemployment Insurance benefits

Will I receive a notice of overpayment?

Yes. The Department mails an appealable decision when you have been paid Unemployment Insurance benefits that you were not entitled to receive. The decision shows the amount of the overpayment and interest, if any, the reason for the overpayment and information about your appeal rights.

What does my billing notice mean?
A billing notice is generated the first of every month to all customers with an outstanding overpayment balance. The billing notice includes the total principal and interest (if applicable) amount due. Please note, checks may take one to two weeks to clear your account and be reflected on your overpayment monthly statement.
Will the 1099g that I receive for tax purposes reflect payments made towards my overpayment?
No, the 1099 will only represent benefits paid to you by the department within the last calendar year. If you have made payments on an overpayment during the last calendar year this will not be reflected on your 1099, and you should advise your accountant of any repayments you made for income tax filing purposes.
What is the balance of my overpayment?
This information is provided in your monthly billing notice, which is mailed the first of every month. It is important to update the Department with any address changes. You may contact the overpayment unit at 401-462-8010 for information on your Unemployment Insurance overpayment.
Where do I mail payments toward my overpayment balance?

Payments (check or money order) should be mailed to:

RI Department of Labor and Training, Overpayment Unit
PO Box 20380
Cranston, RI 02920.

Accepted payment methods are checks and money orders payable to the Department of Labor and Training.

I had an overpayment in another state, will RI intercept my UI Benefits for another state’s overpayment?

Yes. Due to IRORA (Interstate Reciprocal Overpayment Repayment Agreement), the state of Rhode Island can intercept your Benefits to offset an out of state overpayment.

Do I have to pay interest on the overpayment amount?

If your overpayment is due to fraud/misrepresentation, interest will accrue at 18% per year as long as there is a principal balance.

If I decide to appeal, what do I need to include in my letter of appeal?

In your letter, please provide your name, last four digits of your social security number, current address, the case number you are appealing, and the reason for appealing the decision. Mail to or fax to:

Department of Labor & Training, Overpayment Unit
P.O. Box 20380
Cranston, RI 02920

If I am appealing my overpayment do I need to continue to pay back the funds?

Yes, if you are appealing your overpayment decision, you must continue to make payments. If the decision is ruled in your favor, any money you paid towards your overpayment will be returned to you. Rhode Island General Law, Chapters 42-62-7.1 and 44-30.1-1 allows for offset of state and/or federal income tax refunds and lottery winnings to repay any benefit overpayment.


For Employers


I received a Notice of Claim Filed form for a former employee but I do not agree with the reason for separation. What should I do?

Complete the form by answering all questions and indicating the reason for separation. The information provided will be reviewed and the Department will notify you if a telephone interview is necessary. You must return this form within 10 business days in order to have standing to contest any determination with respect to the individual’s claim.

Why did I receive a Notice of Claim Filed form for an employee that has not had any recent employment with my company?

If you received a Notice of Claim Filed this means that the wages this individual earned from your company are being used to establish a claim. Normally, the wages used to establish a claim consist of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the starting date of the claim. The calendar quarters are:

January 1 through March 31
April 1 through June 30
July 1 through September 30
October 1 through December 31

If an individual does not meet the minimum earning requirements, we will re-compute the claim using the last four completed calendar quarters before the starting date of the claim.

How do I update my address or name on the Employer Separation Report?

You can update your name and/or address here: https://dltweb.dlt.ri.gov/empaddchg2013/

Who is the chargeable employer?

The chargeable employer is the most recent base period employer for whom the claimant was separated and had worked at least 4 weeks and earned at least $210 each week.