Unemployment Requirements in Kentucky
May 13th, 2020 by Bunch & Brock
You may qualify for benefits if you meet the unemployment requirements in Kentucky. This article gives you essential information on how unemployment works in Kentucky, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll find links to resources provided by both Kentucky state government and the federal Department of Labor.
There has been a massive slowdown in the economy due to COVID-19. The pandemic has led to a record 26 million Americans’ filing for unemployment benefits nationwide by the third week of April. In the second week of April alone, over 100,000 Kentucky residents filed for unemployment. Though the unemployment process is generally the same as usual, there have been some changes because of the failing economy.
How Does Unemployment Work in KY?
If you find yourself out of work due to the pandemic, you may want to know how does unemployment work in KY. Unemployment benefits are issued by the Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI) to those who lost their jobs for no given reason or no fault of their own. This money helps people by providing them with cash benefits until they find another job.
What Qualifies You for Unemployment in KY?
It depends on three issues: what you were paid in the past, the fact that you lost your job, and staying eligible during the payment period. The COVID-19 pandemic has sidelined a large number of workers, including those who are self-employed, “gig workers,” part-time workers and millions employed by small businesses.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
In an effort to support this ever-increasing base of workers who lack paychecks, the federal government developed a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA). The U.S. Department of Labor provides details on qualifications and how to apply for PUA. Many workers who had been ineligible for unemployment insurance before the pandemic now qualify for PUA.
The PUA program also extends unemployment benefits from six to ten months. During the first four months, payments would increase by $600. Unemployment benefits traditionally were limited to jobless employees. Payments for jobless freelancers and independent contractors would be available under this legislation. There was a one-week waiting period before approved applicants received their benefits. That’s no longer the case.
Unemployment Qualifications in Kentucky
While unemployed workers in Kentucky can be eligible for PUA, it is important to also understand what qualifies you for unemployment in Kentucky.
The unemployment qualifications in Kentucky are:
- Up until recently (see below), you needed to be an employee to receive benefits.
- You lost your job under conditions that allow you to collect.
- You have enough wages in the base period, which is the first four of the five completed calendar quarters.
- You must have worked for more than a year to qualify for benefits, making at least $1,500 in one of the quarters during the base period, for Kentucky unemployment eligibility.
- The total wages outside of the highest quarter must be at least $1,500.
- The total of these four quarters must be at least 1-1/2 times the amount in the highest quarter. Total wages in this period impact how much you’ll get, ranging from $39 to $552 per week.
Some Workers Who Are Denied Unemployment Insurance in Kentucky Can Get PUA Coverage
Some unemployment insurance applicants are denied coverage. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the options for coverage are expanded. It is a two-step process. Workers who may not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance must first apply for that program through the Kentucky Career Center site. Upon being denied, those workers can take the second step and apply for PUA. Be sure to read the details about each step in the application process here.
There are many reasons your application for benefits may be rejected for traditional unemployment insurance in Kentucky, according to OUI, including that you …
- Lost your job due to misconduct
- Quit without a good cause related to your job
- Can’t work at all
- Have a medical condition that prevents you from working
- Don’t have reliable transportation
- Don’t have someone to care for your children while you work
- Aren’t a U.S. citizen and are not allowed to hold a job
- Unreasonably limited the pay you’ll accept, the hours or days you’re willing to work, the location of a job or the types of jobs you’ll accept
- Are attending school without prior approval from OUI
- Work for a school and are between terms.
Rules to Maintain Your Kentucky Unemployment Eligibility
After you’re approved for benefits, there are more rules you need to follow to keep them. You must be ready, able, and available to work and register for work with the Kentucky Career Center (KCC). That includes naming at least your last three employers or listing your last ten years of work experience and completing the work registration.
You must also …
- Respond quickly if KCC contacts you about a job opportunity.
- Accept referrals for suitable employment.
- Come to job interviews when referred by KCC.
- Report for follow-up meetings with KCC as instructed.
- Get involved in reemployment services and case management when they’re referred to you.
- Look for a job on your own.
- Accept suitable employment if offered.
To continue to collect benefits, you need to try to find proper, full-time work. You should document your job search. You’ll be required to meet with KCC at times to talk about your work search efforts. You will need to tell them the names of the employers you contacted, when, who you spoke to, and what happened as a result. You will also need to provide that information to the KCC online.
You’re allowed a reasonable time to find work that’s comparable in pay and skills to your last job. If too much time passes and you haven’t found anything, you’ll have to lower your standards and look for work that pays less and/or is at a lower skill level.
COVID-19 Changes to Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment benefits are much better if you qualify, thanks to the CARES Act, a federal stimulus package that was passed by Congress on March 25, and subsequent federally-funded programs. Among the benefits are a one-time payment to most Americans, regardless of their employment status during the pandemic.
Employed or not, if you earn less than $75,000, you should receive a payment of $1,200 (it lowers as incomes increase and ends at $99,000), and you get an additional $500 per child, according to the New York Times. Joint filers making less than $150,000 will receive $2,400.
How Bunch & Brock Can Help
This country hasn’t had this kind of health scare since 1918. No one is certain what the economy will do in the upcoming months. If you lost your job, you need to find out whether Kentucky’s unemployment benefits can help you and your family.
For more than 35 years, the attorneys at Bunch & Brock have been serving our community and the entire state of Kentucky with their legal needs. We don’t just serve the community – we are members of it, and we look forward to helping our neighbors who need help handling debt after a job loss. If you have legal questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 859-254-5522.