Collecting Unemployment Benefits in Alaska

Learn the rules for unemployment eligibility, benefit amounts, and more in Alaska.

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.

Eligibility for 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:

• You must have earned at least a minimum amount in wages before you were unemployed.

• You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by Alaska law.

• You must be able and available to work, and you must be actively seeking employment.

Past Earnings

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, as in most states, the 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 2015, the base period would be from January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014.

To qualify for benefits in Alaska, you must have earned at least $2,500 in two quarters of the base period.

Reasons for Unemployment

In Alaska, as in other states, you must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits.

  • Layoffs.  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.
  • Firing.  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.
  • Quitting.  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.

Availability to Work

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.

Amount and Duration of Unemployment Benefits in Alaska

If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit rate is based on your earnings during the base period. You can look up your weekly benefit amount in the Division's table,  Calculating Your Weekly Benefit Amount and Duration. 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.)

How to File a Claim for Unemployment Benefits in Alaska

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.

How to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Alaska

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.

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