Did you recently lose your job in South Dakota? If so, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits: payments intended to partially replace the wages of 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 South Dakota.
In South Dakota, the Department of Labor and Regulation 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 South Dakota:
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 South Dakota, 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 file your claim in September of 2015, the base period would be from April 1, 2014, through March 31, 2015.
To qualify for benefits in South Dakota, you must meet all of the following requirements:
In South Dakota, 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 will be disqualified from receiving benefits. Misconduct is defined by South Dakota law as:
On the other hand, misconduct does not include good-faith mistakes, inefficiency, inability to perform the job, unsatisfactory conduct, or conduct mandated by your religious beliefs which your employer could not accommodate.
Quitting. If you quit your job, you will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits 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 that your employer refused to remedy, you may be able to collect benefits. You may also be eligible for benefits if you quit for certain compelling personal reasons, including to relocate with a spouse, to escape from domestic abuse, to avoid violating your religious beliefs (but only if your employer refused to accommodate them), or because you would have had to relocate in order to keep the job.
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 incarcerated, on vacation, or in school, or you don’t have adequate transportation to get to work, you likely won’t be considered able and available to work.
In South Dakota, you must actively search for work each week, keeping a log of your job contacts and other job search activities. You must make at least two job contacts per week. Your log may be audited at any time. You must also register for work with the Department of Labor and Regulation or your designated state workforce agency.
If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it. Whether a job is suitable depends on a variety of factors including your prior experience and training, your prior earnings, the commuting distance, and how long you've been unemployed. You must be willing to accept a position that pays the going rate in your area for the work or occupation for which you have the most experience and training. If there is limited or no work available in that field, you must be willing to accept the going rate for work that you are capable of doing.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit rate is your total earnings during the highest paid quarter of the base period, divided by 26. The current maximum is $352 per week. 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 and telephone contact information at the website of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.
After you file, you will receive a monetary determination from the Department, stating the wages reported by your employers during your base period and how much you can expect to receive in benefits.
If your unemployment claim is denied, you have 15 days to file an appeal. You can file your appeal by mailing or faxing it to the Appeals Section of the Unemployment Insurance Division of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.
A hearing will be conducted, by telephone, before an administrative law judge. You will be able to present evidence and witness testimony at the hearing. The judge will then issue a decision on your appeal.
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you may appeal to the Secretary of Labor and Regulation within 15 days. If the Secretary rules against you, you may appeal to the South Dakota Circuit Court. (You may also skip the appeal with the Secretary and file your appeal directly with the Circuit Court, if you wish).
For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation website.