Kentucky workers who have recently lost their jobs may be eligible for unemployment benefits: payments available to employees who are out of work temporarily, through no fault of their own. Although the basic rules for unemployment are similar across the board, the benefit amounts, eligibility rules, and other details vary from state to state. Here's how unemployment benefits work in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training (OET) administers unemployment benefits. You may file your claim for unemployment benefits electronically or by phone. You can find contact information and online filing information at the Kentucky Career Center website.
Once the OET receives your application, it will send you information on your potential weekly benefit amount and how to claim your benefits.
The Kentucky OET determines eligibility for workers claiming benefits in the state. You must meet the following three eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits:
Like every state, Kentucky looks 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 Kentucky, 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 September of 2020, the base period would be from April 1, 2019, through March 31, 2020.
To qualify for benefits in Kentucky, you must meet all four of the following requirements:
You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits in Kentucky.
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. If, however, you were fired for good cause, you may be disqualified from receiving benefits. For example, if you were fired for willfully violating company policies of which you were aware, you might not be eligible for benefits.
If you quit your job, you won't be eligible for unemployment benefits if you left the job voluntarily, without good cause related to the job. In general, good cause means 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 still be eligible for benefits if you quit for certain compelling personal reasons. For example, you won't be disqualified from receiving benefits if you quit your job to move with a spouse who was relocated by the military or to shorten a commute that was 100 miles or more in one direction.
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.
Whether a position is suitable depends on a number of factors, including how similar the job is to your previous employment, how much you will be paid, the working conditions, and the skills, experience, and training required for the position. The longer you are unemployed, the more likely you will have to consider jobs that pay less and require less skill than your previous position.
You must engage in a good faith search for work. You must also register for work with the Kentucky Career Center. The Center may also ask you to provide information about potential employers you've contacted.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit rate in Kentucky will be 1.1923% of your total wages during the base period. You will receive a maximum of $522 each week; the minimum amount is $39 (in 2021). You may receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. (In times of very high unemployment, additional weeks of benefits may be available.)
If your unemployment claim is denied, you have 15 days to appeal the decision to a referee. A hearing will be held on your appeal, typically by phone. If you are unhappy with the referee's decision, you may file an appeal with the Unemployment Insurance Commission within 15 days. If you are still dissatisfied, you may file an appeal in court within 20 days.
For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the website of the Kentucky Career Center.