How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in Oklahoma
In today’s ever-changing economy, working diligently and professionally is not always enough to keep your job secure. Even if you’re good at your work or don’t commit any mistakes, you can be facing unemployment at the end of the day. In this unsteady economy and recession, many companies and organizations are forced to cut down on their workforce or let go of some employees to stay afloat and working. However, due to this many employees end up facing unemployment for no fault or reason.
Unemployment can be upsetting and distressing for most people. It takes time to come to terms with this sudden change in life and still keep moving forward. Government programs, like the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program, make sure you don’t face it alone and get some financial support in tough times.
Unemployment insurance is a program that provides financial assistance to those who lose their jobs without any fault. It is a benefit that the state government provides to those who are unemployed with no fault of their own. However, not every unemployed person is eligible for insurance benefits. An unemployed person needs to fulfill certain criteria or requirements to be eligible for the benefits.
Unemployment Benefits Eligibility
In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) handles the administration of unemployment insurance benefits. You need to meet the requirements of the state to be eligible to receive these benefits. While the eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis, the three main eligibility requirements for Oklahoma unemployment benefits are:
To collect unemployment benefits in Oklahoma, you must have earned a minimum amount in wages before losing your job. The OESC checks your work history and past earnings during a ‘base period’ of one year to determine your eligibility. You must have earned at least $1500 during your base period. Moreover, in the base period, you must also have earned at least 1.5 times the earning of the highest paid quarter of the period.
Reason for Unemployment
To be eligible to collect unemployment in Oklahoma, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. You can qualify if you are laid off from work or let go due to some reduction-in-force, business closure, or some other similar situation. Similarly, if you’re fired from work due to lack of skills or other performance issues, you can qualify for benefits. However, if you’re fired for misconduct or other behavioral issues, you will be disqualified. You’re not considered eligible for benefits if you voluntarily quit your job. However, if you have a genuine good cause for quitting, work-related or personal, you may be eligible for claim.
Availability for Work
Another criterion for eligibility is your availability for work. You must be able, available, and actively looking for a job when you file a claim. Moreover, you must accept any job offer that you receive willingly.
Calculation of Benefits
Unemployment insurance is a benefit given to compensate some of the income you lost with your job and support you till you find a new job. Every state in the US has its own rules for calculating this benefit amount. The amount of benefit a person receives is based on their previous earnings when they were employed. Like other states, in Oklahoma, the first four of the last five complete calendar quarters before the date of your benefits claim is considered the base period. Your income during the base period must be at least $1500 and 1.5 times the earning of the highest paid quarter of the period. The benefit is given on a weekly basis as a Weekly Benefit Amount. This benefit amount is more than the minimum wage amount and less than the maximum wage amount allowed by the Oklahoma law.
You can collect your benefit amount in a Benefit year which is a period of 52 weeks. This year begins on the Sunday of the week you file your initial claim and ends in a year. However, some jobs and fields like non-profits, real estate, religious institutions, etc. may not be covered by the state government unemployment programs. Remember that only wages from covered employment can be used to calculate unemployment.
How to Claim Benefits
There are two ways to apply for unemployment in Oklahoma. You can either apply online through the Oklahoma unemployment website, or you can apply through the unemployment numbers for Oklahoma City area and outskirts. Once you successfully file an initial claim, you will receive a mail with the Notice of Determination of Benefits. This document contains important details about your claim including the weekly benefit amount you are eligible to receive. In Oklahoma, the employer pays the amount of unemployment benefits. Hence, your most recent employer will also receive an eligibility notice based on your reason for separation.
The employer also has the right to contest the unemployment claim. And if they can prove it is false, the claim is dismissed. If your employer appeals against you or claims you were fired for misconduct or voluntarily left your job, you will get a chance to appeal. However, during an unemployment appeal hearing, the employer needs to prove that you were fired for a good reason or you voluntarily left the job. If they fail to prove it, you may be found eligible to claim even if your employer says otherwise.
What If Your Claim Is Denied?
Facing unemployment is difficult as it is. If you have some financial support to tide you over till you get a next job, it can make things easier. So if your claim is denied and you feel it is unjust, you have the right to appeal your determination.
Both you and your employer can appeal any decision within 10 calendar days of receiving the mail. Once you file an appeal, the OESC investigates the matter to determine if you do meet the requirements of Oklahoma unemployment benefits. While the investigation is on, do not forget to keep claiming for benefits. If your claim is approved, you will be paid back the benefits but only for the weeks that you claimed. You can contact the Oklahoma Unemployment Service Center for details or queries about the claim and appeals process.