Frequently Asked Questions

Unemployment Insurance FAQs

Wage information and other confidential unemployment compensation information may be requested and utilized for other governmental purposes, including, but not limited to, verification of an individual’s eligibility for other government programs. 20 C.F.R. § 603.11(b).

You should file a claim for benefits if you have become unemployed through no fault of your own, you are willing to register for work and actively seek employment, and you are able and available to work if any work is offered to you. NOTE: If you are still employed, but are temporarily laid off due to a decrease in workload, your employer may file an attached claim on your behalf. Attached claims do not require that you register for work or actively seek work. If your employer refuses to file an attached claim on your behalf, you must file your own claim and meet all eligibility requirements.

New Claims

Who is eligible to file for unemployment?

If you quit or were fired, an issue (hold) will be placed on your claim until a determination of eligibility is made by OESC. An individual shall be disqualified for benefits for leaving their last work voluntarily without good cause (reference Oklahoma Employment Security Act section 2-405 for more information). There are also certain provisions for leaving work due to compelling family circumstances (reference Oklahoma Employment Security Act section 2-210 for more information). If you were discharged or fired for misconduct, reference Oklahoma Employment Security Act section 2-406.

What information is needed to apply for unemployment?

How are unemployment benefits calculated?

The amount that an individual qualifies for is based on wages earned from covered employers during the base period. The base period is the first four of the previous five completed calendar quarters (appx. first 12 of the last 15 months).

The weekly benefit amount is one twenty-third (1/23) of the highest quarter of taxable wages in your base period, not to exceed the maximum weekly benefit amount allowed by Oklahoma law. Taxable wages are is a tax paid by your employer and is not taken from your paycheck. If monetarily eligible, the weekly benefit amount will not be less than $16.00 nor more than the maximum allowed by law. For 2021 the maximum weekly benefit amount is $461.00. For example, if your highest quarter of earnings during your base period is $14,000, you would divide this by 23, which would be $608.70. Since the maximum weekly benefit amount allowed by law for 2021 is $461, your weekly benefit amount will only be $461. Please note that this amount does not reflect any special programs that provide additional monetary benefits on top of the weekly benefit amount.

Are unemployment benefits taxable?

All unemployment benefits are taxable. Individuals who filed for and received unemployment benefits will receive a 1099-G tax form from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

When you file for unemployment, you have the option to choose to have taxes taken out at the time benefits are paid. If you opt to have the deductions taken out of your unemployment benefits, the standard deduction used is 10% for Federal taxes, and 3% for State taxes. When filing your yearly income taxes, you will include the 1099-G as part of your income documents and report accordingly.

What is the process and timeline for reviewing my unemployment claim?

Once your claim is filed, OESC must first determine if you are monetarily eligible for benefits. We may need to request wages from other states, complete investigations on missing wages, request federal agency or military wages, or adjust your claim’s base period to accurately determine monetary eligibility.

Once determined monetarily eligible, we will review your claim to determine if you are allowed benefits under the Oklahoma Employment Security Act. The U.S. Department of Labor has established that this eligibility determination should be issued within 21 days of a claim becoming monetarily eligible. After a determination is met, you will be mailed a letter detailing the decision and further information.

How do I file an appeal against a decision that was made on my claim?

You can file an appeal in person, by mail, fax, telephone or email. Include your name, social security number, phone number, date of determination, section of law you are appealing and a detailed explanation of why you disagree with the decision. The mailing address, fax number, telephone number and email address will be listed on your determination.

What is the waiting period, and why is it required?

All individuals filing for unemployment are required to serve a one week waiting period per Oklahoma law (§40-2-206). The first week individuals file a weekly certification during which all eligibility requirements are met will be considered the waiting period and will have no payments issued. This will not subtract from your total benefit amount.

What do I have to do after filing my initial claim for unemployment?

Can I file unemployment, or receive unemployment benefits if I work part-time?

It is possible to work part-time and still draw unemployment. Full-time is defined as 32 hours or more. You must report the hours worked and gross amount of money you earned before any deductions were made. Earnings must be reported during the week you earn them, not when you actually receive the payment. “Work” means anything you do for wages during the seven (7) days of the week you are claiming unemployment benefits.

Are victims of domestic abuse or violence eligible for unemployment benefits?

If you are the victim of domestic violence or abuse and if it has resulted in your separation from employment, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Oklahoma law states: “If the claimant separated from employment due to domestic violence or abuse, verified by any reasonable or confidential documentation, which causes the individual to reasonably believe that the individual’s continued employment would jeopardize the safety of the individual or of any member of the individual’s immediate family.”

My payment was delayed or I did not receive it at all. Why is this happening?

The IDES sends a debit card a few days after your application is processed. However, it can take a few weeks for the IDES to determine your benefits. This may be why you received a debit card with a

What if I left work because I am concerned over the coronavirus?

It is unclear. If you have an underlying condition that may seriously compromise your health, you may stay home. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) allows you to refuse to go to work and file a complaint if you believe you are in imminent danger. This means, if “a danger exists which can reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm.” This may include co-workers testing positive for Covid-19. This is a high standard, and you may still lose your job.

As an at-will employee, you can be fired for any reason with a few exceptions. You cannot be fired for engaging in a protected activity, such as whistleblowing, or if you have legitimate health concerns. You may still be eligible for unemployment benefits.

If your employer will not let you miss work during the pandemic, you may refuse to return to work. The IDES website has additional information about refusing to return to work. You must show you have a good reason for refusing a suitable work offer. The IDES will consider:

balance. You can also set up your bank account to receive direct deposit by logging into your account on the IDES website.

If you are stuck at home because you were diagnosed with Covid-19, you are unemployed through no fault of your own. But you still need to meet all other requirements for benefits. This includes:

You are considered able and available for work if there is some work that you can perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services), and there is a labor market for that work.

Normally, if you leave work to address childcare needs it would be considered voluntary. This would disqualify you from receiving benefits. But the statewide school closure in response to the pandemic creates a unique situation. If your children cannot stay home alone and you do not have an alternative, you may be unemployed through no fault of your own. You still need to meet all other requirements for benefits.