Did you recently lose your job in Alaska? If so, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits, which are compensation available to employees who are temporarily out of work through no fault of their own. Although the basic rules for unemployment are similar across the board, the eligibility rules, prior earnings requirements, benefit amounts, and other details vary from state to state. Below you’ll find information on collecting unemployment in Alaska.
In Alaska, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development handles unemployment benefits and determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must meet the following three eligibility requirements in order to collect unemployment benefits in Alaska:
Virtually all states look at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year "base period" to determine your eligibility for unemployment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Unemployment Compensation: Understanding the Base Period). In Alaska, you can qualify for unemployment using either one of two different base periods: the regular base period or an alternate base period.
The regular base period is the earliest four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your benefits claim. For example, if you filed your claim in April of 2020, the base period would be from January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019. The alternate base period is the last four completed quarters before your claim's effective date.
To qualify for benefits in Alaska, you must have earned at least $2,500 in two quarters of the base period.
In Alaska, as in other states, you must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits.
If you were laid off, lost your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or got "downsized" for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement.
If you were fired because you lacked the skills to perform the job or simply weren't a good fit, you won’t necessarily be barred from receiving benefits. However, if you were fired for misconduct relating to your job, you may be disqualified from receiving benefits for six weeks. In Alaska, misconduct is defined as willful or wanton disregard for the employer’s interests, including willful violation of reasonable workplace rules or standards of behavior and gross or repeated acts of carelessness. You might also be disqualified for willful and wanton behavior off the job in disregard of your employer’s interests, if it makes you unfit to perform the job or has a direct and adverse impact on the employer’s interests.
If you quit your job, you will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for six weeks unless you had good cause. In general, good cause means that your reason for leaving the position was job-related and was so compelling that you had no other choice than to leave. For example, if you left your job because of dangerous working conditions or sexual harassment that your employer refused to stop, you may be able to collect benefits. You may also remain eligible for benefits if you quit for certain compelling personal reasons, including a disability or illness that makes it impossible for you to perform your job duties; to care for a seriously ill family member; to relocate with a spouse (depending on the circumstances); or to escape domestic violence.
To keep collecting unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to work, and looking for employment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Collecting Unemployment: Are You Able, Available, and Actively Seeking Work?) If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it.
In Alaska, a suitable position is one that is in your occupation and meets the prevailing wage and working conditions in your local labor market. But, as time goes on, you must be more flexible in your job search. This may mean you have to accept work that pays less than your previous job.
In Alaska, you will be considered “available” for work only if you don’t have any restrictions preventing you from taking a job if one is offered. For example, you must have transportation and child care arrangements.
You must engage in a good faith search for work. Each week, you must report the employers you contacted, the date of contact, and how you made contact.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit rate is based on your earnings during the base period. The current minimum benefit is $56 per week and the maximum is $370 per week. In addition, you can collect a dependent’s allowance of $24 per week per dependent, for up to three dependents.
You may receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. (In times of very high unemployment, additional weeks of benefits may be available.)
You may file your claim for unemployment benefits online or by phone. You can find online filing information, as well as regional telephone numbers for filing by phone, at the website of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
If your unemployment claim is denied, you have 30 days to appeal the decision to the Appeal Tribunal. The Tribunal will schedule a hearing before a Hearing Officer, who will receive evidence and hear witnesses, then issue a decision.
If you disagree with the Hearing Officer’s decision, you may appeal it to the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. If you disagree with the Commissioner’s decision, you may file an appeal in court.
For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.