Collecting Unemployment Benefits in West Virginia

Did you recently lose your job in West Virginia? 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 West Virginia.

Eligibility for Unemployment in West Virginia

Workforce West Virginia 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 West Virginia:

  • 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 West Virginia 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 West Virginia, 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 December of 2015, the base period would be from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.

To qualify for benefits in West Virginia, you must meet both of the following requirements:

  • You must have been paid wages in at least two quarters of the base period.
  • You must have earned at least $2,200 during the entire base period.

Reasons for Unemployment

In West Virginia, 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 for misconduct relating to your job, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits. Under West Virginia law, misconduct is defined as willfully disregarding an employer’s interests by, for example, deliberately violating standards of behavior that the employer has a right to expect from its employees. Carelessness that is so frequent or so extreme as to demonstrate wrongful intent or intentional disregard of job duties also qualifies as misconduct. Simple mistakes, inability to perform to your employer’s expectations, or errors in judgment are not enough to disqualify you from receiving benefits. West Virginia law distinguishes between simple and gross misconduct. You will be disqualified for a longer period of time for gross misconduct, which includes such serious offenses as intentional destruction of company property, theft, assault, or working under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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 you had a compelling, job-related reason for the leaving the job and your employer was at fault for the separation. 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. Certain compelling personal reasons may also qualify, including the following:

  • You quit for reasons relating to your own health, you notified your employer before quitting or as soon as practicable after, and you provided a written certification from a licensed physician, within 30 days after leaving work, that your job aggravated, worsened, or will worsen your health condition.
  • You quit your job to return to a previous job from which you were laid off, and you did in fact return to that job within 14 days of quitting.

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 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 West Virginia, you must actively look for work each week, using the job search methods that are customary in your field. You must keep a record of your contacts and work search efforts, which may be audited at any time.

If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it. Whether work is suitable depends on many factors, including your fitness for the job, your previous work experience, how much the job pays, and how far you will have to commute. The length of your unemployment also plays a role. The longer you remain unemployed, the more likely you will have to consider taking jobs that are outside of your field (as long as you are still qualified to do them) and that pay less than you were previously earning.

Amount and Duration of Unemployment Benefits in West Virginia

If you are eligible to receive unemployment, you can look up your weekly benefit amount in the West Virginia UC Benefit Rate Table. The maximum weekly benefit amount is currently $424; the minimum amount is currently $24.

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 West Virginia

You may file your claim for unemployment benefits in person, at the claims office that serves your area. You can find addresses and hours for these offices at the website of Workforce West Virginia.

After you file, you will receive a monetary determination from Workforce West Virginia, stating the wages reported by your employers during your base period and how much you can expect to receive in benefits.

How to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in West Virginia

If your unemployment claim is denied, you may file an appeal. You can file your appeal by writing a letter or filling out a form at your local unemployment office.

The West Virginia Bureau of Employment Programs’ Board of Review conducts unemployment appeals. A hearing will be conducted before an administrative law judge (ALJ), in person or by phone. You will be able to present evidence and witness testimony at the hearing. The ALJ will then issue a decision on your appeal.

If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision, you may appeal it to the Board of Review within eight days after the mailing date on the decision. If you disagree with the Board’s decision, you may appeal it in state court.

For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the website of Workforce West Virginia.

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