CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF LABOR’S
GUIDE TO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
ABOUT THIS HANDBOOK
OVERVIEW OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (UI)
ELIGIBILITY FOR UI BENEFITS
AMOUNT OF UI BENEFITS
MAINTAINING YOUR UI ELIGIBILITY
- Searching for Work
- Completing a Weekly Claim Certification
- Reporting Earnings
- UI Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA)
GETTING YOU BACK TO WORK
- Completing the Job Search Registration in CTHires, CTDOL's Online Job Bank
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)
WHEN YOU FIND A NEW JOB
OVERPAYMENTS AND UI FRAUD
- Examples of UI Fraud
- To Avoid Committing UI Fraud
- Penalties for UI Fraud
- What We Do To Stop UI Fraud
- Benefit Accuracy Measurement (BAM)
- Appendix A – Legal Disclosures
- Appendix B – Glossary
ABOUT THIS HANDBOOK
Purpose of the Claimant Handbook
This handbook provides important information about Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits. (See the Glossary in Appendix A for definitions of all highlighted terms.) You must read and understand the information in this document. If you do not understand or if you have questions, please contact our agency for help.
OVERVIEW OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (UI)
About the UI Program
The Connecticut Department of Labor is here to assist you through your time of unemployment. To make sure you are paid benefits in a timely manner, please help us by:
- Providing accurate information
- Responding to requests for information right away
- Completing all requirements to maintain UI eligibility, as outlined in this handbook
- Keeping your contact information up to date
Change of Address or Phone Number
If you move or change your phone number, let us know as soon as possible. Failure to notify our agency of your current contact information may result in a delay in payment of benefits or important notification from CTDOL. The easiest way to update your address or phone number is through the ReEmployCT system via our website.
You can check the status of your claim, request information, and move through our safe and secure website. Visit our website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
ELIGIBILITY FOR UI BENEFITS
Qualifying for UI Benefits
CTDOL will review your claim to determine if you qualify for benefits. Many issues will require a factfinding process before an eligibility determination is made. Please make sure to respond to all requests for information. In determining eligibility, we most often look at these three criteria:
(1) How much did you work in the 12-18 month period before filing a claim?
You must have earned sufficient wages in the 12 to 18 months prior to filing a claim. If you did not earn enough wages, you will not be eligible for benefits.
(2) Why are you no longer working for your past employer?
The reason you are no longer employed helps determine whether you can receive UI benefits. Below are some examples of separation from employment reasons that may qualify or disqualify you from receiving benefits.
You may receive benefits if you:
- Were laid off or your hours were reduced because your employer did not have enough work for you
- Left your last job and can show it was for good cause related to the job (such as unsafe working conditions)
- Are unemployed because you or your child were a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault
You may not receive benefits if you:
- Left your job for personal reasons unrelated to work
- Were fired for misconduct
- Are not legally authorized to work in the United States
- Are self-employed full-time
- Are currently receiving total workers’ compensation for an on-the-job injury
- Are an educational employee or professional athlete with reasonable assurance of returning to work.
(3) Are you able and available to work?
In order to qualify for UI benefits you must be:
- Actively looking for work
- Mentally and physically able to work
- Legally authorized to work in the United States
- Available to accept new work (for example, you do not have a personal responsibility that would prevent you from working)
OPTIONS FOR RECEIVING A PAYMENT
If you are eligible for UI benefits, you may receive your payment through (click here for more info):
- Direct deposit – this option puts money directly into your checking or savings account.
Prepaid debit card – this option provides you with a prepaid debit card from Key Bank. You can make purchases, get cash, and pay bills.
AMOUNT OF UI BENEFITS
After you file a claim for UI benefits, you will receive a Monetary Determination through your ReEmployCT account if you selected email for correspondence, or otherwise through the US Mail. The Monetary Determination explains:
- The amount of benefits you are eligible to receive, If approved, and how that amount was calculated.
- The number of weeks you will be eligible for benefits.
- Information about how to appeal if you disagree with the determination.
(Please visit filectui.com for detailed information on how the monetary determination is calculated).
When you file your claim, it is very important that you provide accurate information regarding your dependents as this may qualify you for a dependency allowance.
Your benefits may be reduced in the following circumstances:
A severance package, pay in lieu of notice, or a continuation of pay with full benefits from an employer may affect UI benefits. Be sure to report any separation payments when you file your claim. You may be contacted by CTDOL for additional details to help determine if your separation pay is deductible from your benefit payment.
Retirement income, disability payments, or survivor benefits may affect your weekly benefit amount (WBA). You must tell us if you receive or apply to receive payment from your retirement plan.
If you are working part-time, you may still be eligible for partial UI benefits (hyperlink). Be sure to report any gross earnings from part-time work. See the Reporting Earnings section for more information.
Some or all of your unemployment benefits may be reduced if you:
- Owe court-ordered child support
Previously received unemployment benefits that you were not entitled to, and did not repay the Overpayment
Your UI benefits are taxable by the federal and state government. You may choose if you want to have taxes withheld from your weekly payment or not. If you elect not to have taxes withheld, you will be responsible for the full taxable amount at the end of the year. Questions about taxes on UI payments should be directed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or your tax professional.
By the end of January each year, CTDOL will provide you with the IRS form 1099-G. This form shows the amount of benefits you were paid during the previous year and the amount of income tax withheld, if you selected this option. To obtain a copy, please visit your ReEmployCT account.
MAINTAINING YOUR UI ELIGIBILITY
Failure to search for work or report earnings can disqualify you from future benefits. If you fail to complete the weekly certification, you cannot be paid for that week.
SEARCHING FOR WORK
You are required to actively search for work every week you receive UI benefits by completing at least three (3) activities. At least one of the activities has to be contacting an employer about a job. For example:
- 3 employer contacts, or
- 2 employer contacts, plus 1 other work search activity, or
- 1 employer contact, plus 2 other work search activities.
Qualifying Work Search Activities
- Applying for a full-time job that fits your skills and qualifications (or part-time work if CTDOL has determined you are only medically available for part-time work). This is the only activity that counts as an “employer contact.”
- Interviewing for a job or following up on an interview (note – an interview or following up on an interview does not count as an employer contact).
- Participating in reemployment services at your state workforce center, such as a workshop or job fair.
- Attending a job fair or a networking event held by a formal organization like an industry association.
Invalid Work Search Activities
- Applying for a job that you are unqualified for
- Viewing job leads without applying
- Failing to apply for a job in the manner directed by an employer (e.g., failing to submit an online application when an employer tells you to apply online)
- Repeating attendance at the same workshop
Exemptions from Work Search Activities
You may be exempted from the work search requirement if you:
- are part of a trade union and are connected to a Union Hiring Hall
- are participating in shared work
- have a return to work date within thirteen weeks of filing your initial claim
- have obtained a new job that starts within 13 weeks of the particular week ending date
- are required to participate in jury duty, or
- are in training/education that has been approved by CTDOL.
Please visit our work search page.
You must enter all work search activities during the weekly certification process; you must also keep all materials relating to your work search as work search efforts may be audited at any time. Failure to provide information could result in a denial of unemployment benefits for that week and you may have to pay back benefits already received.
Did you know?
Unemployed workers who conduct more than the 3 required work search efforts find work faster than those who only complete the minimum each week.
COMPLETING A WEEKLY CLAIM CERTIFICATION
To continue receiving benefit payments, you will need to file a weekly claim certification to tell CTDOL that you are still jobless. The claim certification includes a series of questions that help determine if you are eligible to continue receiving UI benefits. For example, you will be asked if you:
- Were able and available to accept work
- Looked for work, along with details about your work search efforts
- Refused any jobs or offers of work
- Worked anywhere during the week and if so, how much money (gross earnings) you earned for that work (note, you must report earnings even if you haven’t been paid yet).
Under penalty of law, you are required to truthfully answer the questions for each week you claim UI benefits.
When to File Your Claim
The Sunday after you initially apply for benefits is the first day that you can submit a weekly claim. Weekly claims must be completed by 11:59 on Saturday of each week you are claiming benefits.
- If you lost your job on Monday the 3rd of the month, you file an initial claim for UI benefits on the same day or on any other day that week.
- Then you could submit a weekly claim for your first week of benefits starting on Sunday the 9th.
- Failure to submit the weekly claim before 11:59 on Saturday the 15th may result in a delayed benefit payment or a denial of benefits for that week.
How to File Your Weekly Claim
Online – For fastest service, visit http://www.filectui.com. For assistance filing, please go to a local American Job Center or contact the Consumer Contact Center.
If you are working while claiming UI benefits, you must report how much money you made. The amount you must report is your GROSS EARNINGS and not your net earnings.
When to Report Earnings
You must report your earnings for each week for the previous Sunday through Saturday period when filing your weekly claim for UI benefits, even if you have not yet been paid.
What Earnings to Report
Any money earned for work done. Common income sources include full or part-time employment, temporary or odd jobs, self-employment, and tips.
How to Calculate Gross Earnings if You Have Not Yet Been Paid
Number of Hours Worked during Week x Rate of Pay = Gross Earnings
- For instance, if you worked 30 hours in a week at $20 per hour, you would report $600 in gross earnings for the week.
Did you know?
The majority of residents of Connecticut who claim unemployment benefits accurately report their earnings. Are you one of them?
UI REEMPLOYMENT SERVICES AND ELIGIBILITY ASSESSMENT (RESEA)
UI RESEA is a program funded by the federal Labor Department (USDOL) to help UI claimants return to work faster. You may be selected to participate based on multiple factors, including most likely to exhaust UI benefits or if you are a transitioning service member. If selected, you will receive a notification either via your ReEmployCT account or US Mail within 5 weeks of filing your initial claim. During your virtual meeting, an American Job Center (AJC) representative will review your eligibility for UI benefits, including a review of your efforts to find work. You will receive information about services available through the AJCs as well as labor market and career information. You will also work with the representative on making a plan to get you back to work as soon as possible. This plan includes referring you to a mandatory service chosen specifically for you that will help you in your job search. If selected, you must participate in your meeting. If you do not, your payments could be delayed and you could be disqualified from receiving benefits until you comply with the program requirements.
GETTING YOU BACK TO WORK
The American Job Centers (AJC) offer a variety of no-cost programs and services – including job leads and career resources – to help you get back to work faster.
COMPLETING THE JOB SEARCH REGISTRATION IN CTHIRES, CTDOL's Online Job Bank
When you file your initial claim for benefits, and agree to share your information with the Workforce Development System and its partners, you are automatically registered with the CTDOL’s Employment Services System --- CTHires. You will receive a welcome email. However, to increase your chances of getting a new job, we strongly encourage you to go to CTHires and provide additional information, such as uploading your resume. This can also be considered a work search effort. You can browse the wide choice of Connecticut job openings – there is no charge to job seekers for this service. For more information visit CTHires.
TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE (TAA) AND TRADE READJUSTMENT ALLOWANCES (TRA)
TAA provides benefits to workers who lose their job or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports from, or shifts in production to, foreign countries The goal of the program is to assist workers in returning to work as soon as possible. TRA benefits provide temporary income support to qualified workers in a TAA covered group after the exhaustion of UI benefits. For more information, please visit the Trade Adjustment Assistance website.
If you are being laid off, or have already lost your job, you may be a dislocated worker and eligible for certain federal, state or community services, whether you’re seeking new skills or a new employer. For more information, please visit your local AJC.
FEDERAL EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT
The Earned Income Tax Credit is refundable tax credit for certain low income works. This program may reduce your federal tax burden. For information on the Earned Income Tax Credit, contact the IRS or call 1-800-829-1040.
WHEN YOU YOU FIND A NEW JOB
After you start a full-time job, you do not need to notify our office that you found work. Simply stop submitting the weekly claim certification to request UI benefit payments when you start your new job (even if you will not be paid for a week or more). Should you start your new job in the middle of the week, be sure to report your earnings on your weekly claim.
If you find part-time work, you may still be eligible for partial UI benefit payments. Be sure to report any earnings from part-time work. See the Reported Earnings section for more information.
OVERPAYMENTS AND UI FRAUD
OVERPAYMENTS DUE TO ERROR OR REVERSAL
If, after having been paid UI benefits, CTDOL determines that you were paid in error or the Appeals Division reverses the original decision to pay benefits, you will be given an opportunity to request a review of the exact amount of the overpayment, how the overpayment can be recouped (for example, offsetting a portion of the weekly benefits, normally 50%), and whether the benefits should be waived. It is very important to request the review within the fourteen days provided in the CTDOL notice.
Fraud is a serious crime. Detecting and preventing UI fraud is a priority for CTDOL. Claims are audited regularly to ensure benefits were paid according to state and federal law.
EXAMPLES OF UI FRAUD
Some examples of fraud include:
- Failing to report money earned while collecting benefits
- Being dishonest about why you are no longer working for a previous employer
- Saying you are able and available when you are ill, traveling, or otherwise unable or unavailable to work.
- Reporting that you looked for work when you did not make valid work search efforts.
- Using another individual’s identity to get UI benefits.
TO AVOID COMMITTING UI FRAUD
The most important thing is to be honest. If you intentionally make false statements or hide information to get UI benefits, you are committing fraud. If you are confused about what you are supposed to do or report, call the Consumer Contact Center for clarification. We are here to help!
PENALTIES FOR UI FRAUD
Penalties for fraud can include:
- Repayment of all UI benefits that you were not eligible to receive.
- A monetary penalty that is on top of the benefits you should not have received (50% for the first offense; 100% for each additional offense).
- Interest at a rate of 1% of the current balance will be charged each month.
- Being convicted of a crime in state and/or federal court.
WHAT WE DO TO STOP UI FRAUD
These are just some of the ways we identify people who are committing fraud:
- Sophisticated computer cross-matches with state and federal databases, return-to-work reports, and tips from the public.
- Auditing claims.
- Comparing earnings reported by workers and their employers.
- Verifying job search contacts.
Report Suspected Fraud --- You can report fraud by calling the fraud hotline at 1-800-894-3490 or completing the Report Benefits Fraud Form. Tips about possible fraud are pursued by our team of Investigators.
BENEFIT ACCURACY MEASUREMENT (BAM)
The Benefit Accuracy Measurement (BAM) program is federally-required audit program with a goal of preventing overpayments due to error and fraud in the UI Program. Claimants are randomly selected. The audit includes a review of payroll records from your former employer(s), your work search efforts and a review of all actions taken by CTDOL regarding your claim. You will be sent a detailed questionnaire which you will need to complete and return to the CTDOL BAM unit. You will also be contacted by a representative from the BAM Unit for any necessary additional information. Failure to comply with a request for information can raise questions about your weekly eligibility and possibly lead to a denial of benefits that you would be responsible to repay.
If you or your employer disagree with a decision regarding your UI claim, you each have the right to appeal. Appeals must be submitted within 21 days from the date the eligibility determination decision was sent to you.
HOW TO SUBMIT AN APPEAL
There are three ways you can file an appeal:
- By mail
- By fax
Please visit the Appeals Division site for more information.
THE APPEAL PROCESS
After your appeal is received, you will be sent a Notice of Hearing in the mail or via the ReEmployCT portal. It will inform you of the date and time of you appeal hearing. You must participate in your hearing to protect your benefit rights. An impartial Referee is responsible for the appeal hearing. The Referee will issue a written decision that is sent to you and any other interested party after the hearing. If you disagree with a Referee’s decision, you may appeal that decision within 21 days to the Board of Review. Instructions for filing the appeal will be in the Referee’s decision. The Board will review the Referee’s decision and the entire record, as well as the hearing. The Board may also schedule a hearing or request additional information. If you or an interested party disagree with the Board of Review’s decision, it may be appealed to the Superior Court within 30 days of the decision. Do not delay filing your appeal.
REMAINING ELIGIBLE DURING YOUR APPEAL
To maintain your UI eligibility during your appeal, continue to search for work, file your weekly claims, and report any money you earned during the claim week while your appeal is pending. If your appeal is decided in your favor, you will only be paid for the weeks for which you met these requirements.
APPENDIX A -- LEGAL DISCLOSURES
Your Legal Right to File a Claim
You have a legal right to file a claim for unemployment benefits or to testify on behalf of a co-worker or anyone else filing a claim for benefits. It is illegal for an employer to discharge, discipline, penalize or discriminate against you because you file a claim for benefits, testify in a UI hearing or exercise any other right under the UI law. If you believe that you have been discharged, disciplined penalized or discriminated against because you filed for UI, assisted someone in their claim, or any other related actions, you may file a complaint with CTDOL. All complaints should be mailed to:
Connecticut Department of Labor
200 Folly Brook Boulevard
Wethersfield, CT 06109-1114
Attn: Legal Division
Equal Opportunity Information
It is against the law for CTDOL to discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or political affiliation or belief, or against any beneficiary of, applicant to, or participant in programs financially assisted under Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), on the basis of the individual’s citizenship status or participation in any WIOA Title I-financially assisted program or activity.
What to Do if You Experience Discrimination
If you think that you have been subjected to discrimination under a WIOA Title I-financially assisted program or activity, you may file a complaint within 18- days from the date of the allected violation.
To file a complaint online, click here.
To file a complaint by mail, send to:
The Director – Civil Rights Center
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room N-4123
Washington, DC 20210
Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities
We will make accommodations to allow your participation in all UI programs, activities, and services. To request an accommodation for a disability, please contact us at the Consumer Contact Center or your local American Job Center.
Your Privacy Matters to Us
We follow all state and federal laws that protect your private information. In accordance with such laws, the information you provide is subject to initial and continuing verification through computer matching programs, according to agreements with other federal (such as the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services), state and local government agencies.
APPENDIX B – GLOSSARY
This section defines commonly used terms and acronyms.
A process for requesting a formal review of a prior UI decision.
A meeting to consider a UI benefit or employer appeal. You may testify, provide evidence, and have witnesses testify. You may ask questions of the other party. All testimony given is under oath.
The 12-month period from which wages are used to calculate your weekly benefit rate is called your base period. Your wages during a specific 12-month period will determine your weekly benefit amount. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. The alternate base period, which is only used when you do not qualify in the regular base period, is the four calendar quarters immediately preceding the quarter in which the claim is filed.
A 7-day period during which you have an active claim. The benefit week begins on Sunday and ends at midnight the following Saturday.
The 52 weeks after your claim is effective are called your benefit year. The benefit year is the period in which you may be eligible to collect your maximum benefits. Your benefit year begins on the Sunday of the week you file your claim. If your benefits are exhausted before the end of your benefit year, a new claim cannot be taken until the benefit year has ended. During that one-year period, the maximum entitlement cannot be changed except to correct information, or to reflect changes in dependency allowances.
The money given to eligible claimants.
A processed application for UI benefits.
Claim Effective Date
The Sunday of the week in which your initial claim for benefits if filed.
Claim End Date
Also referred to as the Benefit Year End (BYE), this is the last Saturday of a Benefit Year and falls 52 weeks after the Claim Effective Date.
A process to ensure parties have an opportunity to be heard before a determination is made. It is very important to participate and respond to all requests for information from CTDOL
Knowingly giving false information or failing to provide important information in order to claim or accept UI benefits when you are not entitled to them. Fraud is a crime.
Full-time hours for the particular industry.
The amount of money you get for work before taxes and deductions are taken out.
Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA)
The maximum amount of benefits you may receive during a benefit year, and is based on the wages earned in the Base Period multiplied by the number of benefit weeks you are eligible for within the Claim Year. This is listed on your Monetary Determination.
A form provided to you after you file an initial claim for benefits that explains if you are eligible, how much your payment will be each week, the Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA), and other details regarding the Claim Year. It also lists all employers you worked for during the Base Period, and the wages each employer reported each quarter. Be sure to check it for accuracy and notify CTDOL of any errors.
Your take-home pay, after deductions and taxes are taken out.
UI benefits you received that you were not entitled to under state or federal law.
Partial UI Benefits
The amount of UI benefits you may receive while working reduced hours (less than full-time for your industry).
Separation from employment
When you or your employer end the working relationship – perhaps due to a quit, discharge, or layoff.
Unemployment Insurance – a benefit program for workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own.
An active union member who gets work through a union hiring hall.
Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA)
The maximum amount of money you may be eligible for one week, plus the dependency allowance. This amount is listed on your Monetary Determination.
Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR)
The maximum amount of money you may be eligible for one week.
Careless or deliberate behavior that results in your suspension or discharge, such as dishonesty related to employment, unexcused absences, knowing violation of a company policy.