Unemployment

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Benefits

What is Unemployment Insurance?

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a program designed to ease the economic burden of unemployment by providing a temporary source of income for individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own.

Who pays the unemployment tax? 

In Mississippi, employers pay all of the unemployment tax.

How do I file for benefits? 

As soon as you become unemployed, you may file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits online or by calling 601-855-3133 or 1-888-844-3577. Note: MDES will no longer accept new or reopened unemployment claims on Monday and Tuesday. However, people who served on active duty in the military or earned wages in another state or a federal agency may continue to file by phone on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can file claims online anytime on this website.

You should be prepared to provide the following information:
1. Your Social Security number,
2. Your complete mailing address and phone number,
3. The names, addresses, and phone numbers for all your employers for the last eighteen (18) months,
4. The dates you worked and the reason you left each employer.
5. Alien Registration number or Visa number, if you are not a U.S. Citizen.

What if I worked in more than one state? Can I file a claim against another state if I live in Mississippi?

If you worked in more than one state you may be eligible for a Combined Wage Claim. The base period wages from all states in which you worked are combined and you may be able to establish a combined wage claim under the law of a single state to qualify for benefits. An unemployment claims representative can explain the options and procedures for filing a Combined Wage Claim if you think you might qualify.

What is a benefit year? 

The benefit year is 52 consecutive weeks. It begins on the Sunday of the week in which your application for benefits is filed. If monetary eligibility requirements are met, your claim will remain in effect for one year. (Note: This does not mean you will receive benefits for a full year).

How is the weekly benefit amount calculated? 

A formula is used to calculate the amount of benefits based upon wages paid to you during the base period. Additionally, in order to be eligible one must have:
1. Worked and received wages in at least two quarters of your base period
2. Earned at least $780.00 in the highest quarter of the base period
3. Earned forty (40) times your weekly benefit amount in your base period 

What is the maximum weekly benefit amount?

In Mississippi the maximum is $235.00 and the minimum is $30.00.

What is a base period? 

The base period is defined as the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding your initial claim for benefits. Benefits are based on your earnings during this period of time.

What if I worked for an employer during the base period and the wages are not shown on my claim?

Once you file a claim for benefits, you will receive a Monetary Determination. The Monetary Determination shows the wages reported by your employer(s) during each quarter of your base period. Study the notice carefully. Be sure that it includes all wages paid during the quarters shown. If you believe that some wages you earned are not shown, you should contact the MDES Call Center and file a request for re-determination.

How long will it take to get my first benefit payment? 

Provided you meet all the eligibility requirements, and you are unemployed through no fault of your own, you can expect to receive your first check after you have filed your second weekly certification. The first week is a waiting period. 

What is a waiting period? 

If it is determined that you are eligible for benefits, the first eligible week that you file a claim will serve as your waiting period week. You will not be paid for this week.

If my claim is established for one year, why did I exhaust my benefits in six months?

The maximum amount of benefits you are eligible for is based on your base period wages. The maximum amount payable on any UI claim is 26 times your weekly benefit amount.

Can child support be deducted from my benefits? 

Yes. The amount deducted from your benefit payment each week is determined by the Department of Human Services. If you disagree with the amount of child support deducted, or if you have any questions regarding child support, you should contact the Department of Human Services.

What if my weekly benefit payment is late? 

Claims are processed Monday through Friday. Depending on when you submit your claim, whether it is online or by using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, you should receive your payment within 5 days from the date you filed your weekly certification.

Can an employer protest payment of a claim? 

Yes. The employer has the same appeal rights that the claimant has.

If I quit my job, or get fired, will I be eligible for benefits? 

Possibly. If it is determined that you were not discharged for misconduct connected with your work, or if you can prove you had good cause for leaving your employment, you may be entitled to benefits.

What does "misconduct" mean? 

Generally, misconduct is an act which is either willful or is an intentional disregard of the employer's interest.

What are the eligibility requirements? 

To be eligible for UI benefits, one must:
1. Must be unemployed through no fault of your own.
2. File a weekly claim as required - Claims filed late may be denied.
3. Be able to work - You must be mentally and physically able to work your normal work week.
4. Be available for work - You must be ready to go to work. You must be willing to accept full-time work. You must have transportation and have made necessary childcare arrangements. You cannot have barriers or conditions, which prevent you from accepting work immediately.
5. Be actively seeking work - To meet availability requirements you must make a "good faith" effort to find work. An active work search effort is required.

What is an Eligibility Review?

Periodically you will be scheduled to report in person for an Eligibility Review. You will receive a notification that will tell you the date and time to report. At this time, you will be asked to provide at least three places you have looked for work. If you fail to report as scheduled for your Eligibility Review, your claim may be affected.

Must I register for work with the WIN Job Center? 

Yes. Failure to register for work with the WIN Job Center in your area could result in a delay or denial of your benefits.

If I am registered with a union, or a private employment agency, am I still required to register with the WIN Job Center?

Yes. 

If I accept odd jobs, or part-time work, can I still receive benefits? 

Yes. But remember, you must report all wages when earned, not when paid. Your weekly claim form asks, "Did you do any work last week?" If you work, simply report the dates, name of the business you worked for, number of hours worked, and the gross amount you earned during that week.

Do I report my gross earnings or my net earnings on my weekly claim? 

Report your total earnings, before deductions, for the week you actually perform the work, regardless of when you get paid. We will deduct any earnings over $40.00 from your weekly benefit amount.

What if I refuse an offer of work?

If you are offered work, and it is determined that it was suitable work, your benefits may be denied for up to 12 weeks.

What if I go back to work full-time? 

Advise the MDES Call Center of the date you will return to work, or provide the date when filing your weekly claim form..

What do I do if my address changes? 

Notify the MDES Call Center as soon as possible. If you move out of the area, or to another state, you must report immediately to the claims center nearest your new address. Visit our list of Other States' Labor sites to find the office nearest you. 

Do I have to pay federal income tax on the unemployment benefits that I receive? 

Yes. You can elect to have tax withheld from each benefit payment, or you can wait and pay the tax when you file your tax return.

What should I do if I am separated from my part-time job while filing a claim for benefits as Working Part-Time?

Notify the MDES Call Center as soon as possible after the separation.

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Appeals

What are my rights if I disagree with an eligibility decision?

Whether you are an employer, or a claimant, you have the right to file an appeal and receive a hearing.

When should I file an appeal?

If you disagree with a decision you have 14 days from the mailing date of your decision to request an appeal. You may file by contacting the MDES Call Center, or mail in a written request to:

MDES
Appeals Department
P.O. Box 1699
Jackson MS, 39215-1699.

If I file an appeal, do I need an attorney? 

No.

Should I continue filing weekly claims if I file an appeal? 

Yes. You should continue to file your weekly claim forms as long as you are unemployed.

How long does it take to get a hearing scheduled?

Once you have filed an appeal you will receive written notification of the time and date of your hearing. Hearings are scheduled as soon as possible. After the hearing has taken place you should receive a written decision from the Administrative Appeals Officer, usually within 14 days. The Administrative Appeals Officer has the authority to reverse, modify, or sustain a decision.

Will the appeal process stop my benefit payments if I am currently receiving UI benefits? 

No. If you were deemed eligible and have been receiving benefits, your payments will not stop unless/until the Administrative Appeals Officer reverses the original decision.

After my hearing, if I disagree with the Administrative Appeals Officer's decision, what should I do? 

If you disagree with the Administrative Appeals Officer's decision, you can file an appeal to the Board of Review by writing to the address on your letter or by contacting the MDES Call Center. If you still disagree with the Board of Review's decision, you may then file to the Circuit Court in the county where you live. In cases where the plaintiff is not a resident of the State of Mississippi, such action may be filed in the circuit court of the county in which the employer is located, where the cause of action occurred, or in the county of employment. If you disagree with the Circuit Court Judge's decision you may then file to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Where can I get more appeals information?

You may call the Appeals department in the state office at (601) 321-6294.

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Overpayments

Why am I overpaid?

An overpayment occurs when a claimant receives benefits for which he or she is not entitled.

What is the penalty for failing to report my earnings?                                                     

An overpayment will be established and you may be assessed a disqualification for a time period up to one year. Unemployment fraud is punishable by Law. You could get up to 30 days in jail and/or be fined up to $500.00 for each week benefits are unlawfully received.

Will I be charged interest on the overpaid unemployment benefits?

Yes. Interest will accrue at the rate of 1% per month on the unpaid balance.     

Where do I send my payments?

Payments can be made at the nearest WIN Job Center or may be mailed to:

MDES - BPC Dept.
P.O. Box 23089
Jackson MS, 39225-3089

*Please write your Social Security Number on your payment to ensure that the correct account is credited*

Can I set up monthly payments?

Yes. Contact the Benefit Payment Control Dept. to set up a payment plan. The phone number is (601) 321-6468.  

Can I pay less than the required monthly payment?

In order to prevent legal action from being taken, you need to submit the required amount every 30 days.

Can you take the overpayment amount out of my benefits?

If you are eligible for unemployment benefits, and file weekly claims, the amount of your benefit payment will automatically be applied toward your overpayment.

Can you take half of my benefits, and send me the other half?

No. The entire amount of your benefit payment will be applied toward your overpayment until it is cleared.

I did not work for the employer that is stated on my Audit Letter or Notice of Determination for the weeks listed. How can I correct this error? 

You must contact the employer in question and have them write a letter (on their company letterhead) to the Benefit Payment Control Dept. This letter must include your name, Social Security number, and a statement regarding the incorrect wage information.

I did not get a benefit payment for the weeks listed on the Audit Letter or Notice of Determination. What do I need to do?

If a week is listed on your Audit Letter, our records indicate a payment was sent to you for that week. If you did not receive this payment, you will need to contact the MDES Call Center.

Why haven't I received a cancellation when I paid the full amount with a personal check?

Personal checks take up to 30 days to clear the bank.

If I have a collection lien/warrant on my credit report, how can I get it removed once I have paid the full amount of my overpayment?

We will send you a copy of the lien cancellation that is sent to the Circuit Clerk. You need to present that as proof to the credit bureau that you have paid your overpayment in full. We do not communicate with the credit bureau.

Why wasn't I informed that my wages could be garnished?

You were informed on your Notice of Determination about the legal steps that can be taken if you fail to make payments as required. You were also informed on a First and Final Notice.

What is a collection warrant?

A collection warrant is a lien that is enrolled on the judgment book at the Circuit Clerk's office to collect on an overpayment. (See Section 71-5-367 MESC Law and Regulations).