Since the COVID-19 crisis began, forty-eight states have closed non-essential businesses, and the effects are already clear to see. Over 16.8 million Americans have finally sought unemployment benefits, with workers in some states hit harder than most. As The Associated Press reports, in Arkansas, unemployment claims have jumped by almost 50%… and also the situation is far from over. If you are an Arkansas resident who's lost their job or suffered a loss in income as a result of the pandemic, don't start digging into those savings at this time. In response to the economic downturn, the government has introduced a series of measures to help those and businesses stay afloat.

Arkansas has also been quick to respond to the situation, becoming one of the first states to waive the usual 7 day waiting period for brand new unemployment claimants. \”This will be a relief to anybody who is laid off, that they can have more quick cash assistance to make sure their own families are cared for,” Gov. Hutchinson explained of the decision to THV11 Digital.

And the measures don't hold on there. Effective March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act aims to relieve some of the financial burdens developed by the crisis through the following provisions:

  • A $1,200 rebate for taxpayers, with an additional $500 for each dependent.
  • A $600 per week, across-the-board payment in addition to state unemployment benefits, payable until the end of July.

A further 13 weeks of paid benefits along with what the state allows, up to and including maximum of 39 weeks as a whole, until the end of July. An expansion of the eligibility criteria for unemployment advantages to include the self-employed, gig workers, contractors, and people who are unable or unavailable to work because of COVID-19.

Eligibility for Unemployment in Arkansas

In Arkansas, eligibility for benefits is determined by the Department of Workforce Services (DWS). If you have lost your job for any of the following reasons, you may be eligible to claim unemployment underneath the newly expanded unemployment benefits package.

  • You are sick with COVID-19.
  • You have come across COVID-19 and are under quarantine.
  • You are caring for someone who is sick or perhaps in quarantine after exposure to COVID-19.
  • You have been furloughed without pay due to COVID-19.
  • You are working reduced hours due to COVID-19.
  • Your workplace has closed because of COVID-19.
  • You cannot work because of school closures.
  • You are unable to get to work because of COVID-19 and are unable to work from home.
  • You are self-employed or a gig worker whose business has been affected by COVID-19.

As well as considering why you are out of work, the department will even look at what you've earned on the one-year base period. The base period is viewed as the earliest four of the five calendar quarters before your initial claim is filed. To qualify for unemployment, you will need to have worked in a minimum of two-quarters of the base period and earned at least 35 times your weekly benefit amount within the entire period.

Applying for Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas

The DWS accept unemployment claims in a single of two ways:

By phone: Call (501) 907-2590, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Online: Create a merchant account at ArkNet Portal and stick to the prompts to file the claim.

Regardless from the method you choose, you'll need to provide the following information:

  • Your personal information (complete name, date of birth, mailing address, phone number, and email account).
  • Your Social Security Number.
  • Your Alien Registration Number, if applicable.
  • Your union name and native number, if applicable.
  • Your history of employment, to include the name, address, and phone details for each employer, your occupation with this employer, the period of your employment, and the reason for the employment ending.
  • The names, dates of birth and social security numbers for the dependents, if applicable.
  • Severance Information, if applicable
  • Military Form DD-214, if applicable.
  • Form SF-8 or SF-50, if applicable.

Amount of Unemployment in Arkansas

If your claim works, you will be paid a weekly benefit rate equal to 1/26 of your income during the highest-paid quarter of the base period. For 2021, the minimum amount of state benefits is $81 per week, and the maximum is $451 per week.

If you want to check the amount of benefits you're likely to receive, enter your previous income in to the online calculator provided by the DWS. The estimate provided might not be the exact amount you end up receiving, but it'll provide you with a good indication of your potential entitlement.

In addition to what the state allows, you will also be eligible to claim a supplementary $600 per week under the terms of the newly introduced CARES Act. You don't need to file a separate payment with this: the department will take a look at eligibility and issue a separate payment on top of your usual benefits payment, backdated towards the end of March. You will continue to receive the supplementary payment until the end of July.

Duration of Unemployment in Arkansas

Under the normal rules, unemployment benefits can be claimed for a maximum of 25 weeks. However, the CARES Act has extended this to some maximum of 39 weeks, valid 'till the end of July.

How to Appeal

Once you've filed your claim, you'll receive a written determination within 21 days. If your claim is denied, you will find the right to appeal the decision within 20 times of the mailing date from the determination. Claims can be made either at the local DWS office or through the Arkansas Appeal Tribunal. The appeal will often be conducted over the phone, and you'll have the opportunity to provide any evidence you feel is relevant to the decision. If the appeal doesn't end in your favor, you've got a further 20 days to file an appeal with the Arkansas Board of Review. Should you then wish to contend the Board's decision, you will need to file a court appeal.

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