Alaska Unemployment Guide

Filing for Unemployment:

Unemployed Alaska workers can file an unemployment claim online (click Unemployment Insurance Benefits), or call one of the state's UI Claim Centers (Anchorage 907-269-4700, Juneau 907-465-5552, Fairbanks 907-451-2871, or toll free 888-252-2557). Additional contact information can be found here.
File your as soon as you are unemployed or working less than full-time. Your claim starts the Sunday preceding your filing date, based on when you filed online or called. Because the benefits are not retroactive, if you delay you may lose out.

Eligibility is based on all three of these factors:
  1. You must have been paid by an employer that must comply with unemployment insurance laws (covered employment).
  2. You must have earned at least $2,500 in gross income over two calendar quarters of the base period (first four of the last five completed calendar quarters) before the claim is filed.
  3. You must continue to be eligible each week that you claim benefits – meaning you must be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work.

You'll need the following info to apply either online or over the phone:

  • Name
  • Address
  • SSN
  • Name/address/phone of prior employer
  • Last date you worked
  • Reason you left
  • Wages for last week worked.

If you are not a US Citizen, you'll need your Alien Registration Number, expiration, and type.

After you file your claim online or on the phone, you will be sent a monetary determination by US mail. This describes the weekly benefit and how many weeks the benefit will last. Be sure to call if you suspect errors.

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Filing Your Weekly Claim:

You should expect a weekly benefit between $56 - $370 per week plus an additional $24 per week for each dependent child (maximum three for maximum additional $72 per week). See the Alaska Unemployment Insurance website for details on dependency requirements.

File for bi-weekly benefits online, or over the phone through the state's automated attendant VICTOR system (call the numbers listed above). When you receive your monetary determination letter, you'll also get an unemployment handbook that will contain additional details about filing your bi-weekly benefits claim.

Beware of the Waiting Week. Your first week of benefits is called a "waiting week" – this means you will not be paid benefits during your first week of eligibility, but you must still file a claim to get credit for waiting.

Benefit Year – Your monetary determination letter will detail how many weeks your actual benefits will last, between a minimum 16 to maximum 26 weeks. Special rules apply if you are working part time while you are receiving unemployment benefits. Refer to the unemployment handbook for details.

Your benefit year begins on Sunday of the week in which you file. Your claim is then active for 52 (sometimes 53) consecutive weeks. If you are eligible to receive benefits for the filing weeks, a benefit check is mailed the business day after filing. Direct deposit and debit cards are offered as faster options.

Unemployment Benefits:

Alaska does not make health care insurance available to unemployed workers, but
Health benefits may be available under the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), crediting 72.5% of qualified health care premiums.

You may be eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) if:
  1. You meet one of the following candidate requirements:
    • Your company was Trade Certified and you receive Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits (TAA) - Click here for details.
    • You received pension payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and are 55 years or older
    • You are the spouse or dependent of someone who fell into one of the categories above at the time of Medicare enrollment, death, or divorce.
  2. You meet the general requirements.
  3. You are enrolled in a qualified health plan.
Alaska makes career and training benefits available through the Alaska Job Center Network.

Filing for extensions:

During high unemployment times, Alaska makes Extended Benefits (EB) available to unemployed workers. If EB is available, you can apply online (click Unemployment Insurance Benefits), or via the phone numbers listed above.

If you are not eligible for EB (or EB has run out), you may be eligible for Federal Emergencency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). Details on the EUC program and instructions can be found here (PDF).

Alaska has additional benefits programs available for Federal employees, Ex-Military personnel, and Unemployment due to disaster. Check Alaska's Unemployment Insurance website for more details.

Ending Unemployment:

Just stop filing the bi-weekly claim forms. If you have stopped filing for benefits for three weeks or longer, you'll have to open your unemployment claim again online (click Unemployment Insurance Benefits), or call one of the UI Claim Centers at the numbers above.

FAQ:

The Alaska Unemployment Security Division recommends applying online, and setting up direct deposit to speed your benefits. If you decide to file by phone there may be wait times or busy signals if you call at high volume times. The best times to call are afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Monday and Friday are the busiest times. Hours for reaching claim center staff are Monday – Friday 10:00am to 3:00pm.

See Alaska's Unemployment Insurance FAQ list here.

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Bruce Siuda

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