Steps to request Unemployment Benefits in Georgia

Local governments grant several economic aids to their inhabitants since sometimes (for different reasons) people cannot provide the basic needs of daily life for themselves. In fact, one of the most requested assistance programs is for unemployed people, so in this opportunity, we’ll explain to you how to apply for unemployment benefits in Georgia.

Like many other procedures, you may think that the application to this program is a little bit cumbersome; however, if you are in a situation of need, this represents a relief to our pockets.

So, if you are thinking of applying for unemployment benefits, you’ve found the right article.

Eligibility Criteria

The program in charge of giving unemployment benefits in Georgia is called the Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) and its purpose is to provide temporary payments to unemployed people. However, not all unemployed people qualify for this benefit.

The first step to apply is verifying if you meet the eligibility requirements; in case you do, you can start the process to send your application (keep reading, further we will explain how to).

The requirements for applying to the UI are:

Unemployment situation

At this point, the reason why you had to separate from your last employer is decisive: it must be something beyond your control and through no fault of your own.

  • For instance, if you were fired because of personnel reduction in the company or if you are still working but your hours were reduced due to lack of work.
  • You cannot get the benefits if you resigned from the job without a justified reason; or if you were fired because of misconduct.

It is important to remember that your last job is not necessarily your previous employer; the most recent employer is the last employer you worked for and that was responsible for paying the taxes necessary to cover unemployment insurance from your salary.

Sufficient insured wages

First, insured wages are those paid by employers who have filed taxes for unemployment insurance; this is why your last job isn’t always your last employer based on unemployment benefit purposes.

Now, in order to comply with this requirement, it is necessary that you have earned sufficient insured wages during your “base period“; this period includes the first 4 quarters out of the last 5 quarters prior to the quarter that you file the claim

If you cannot calculate your wages based on this calculation, you can use the “alternative base period” which is the four quarters prior to the time you file the claim.

For your convenience, you may check these images:

  • Regular base period

regular base period - georgia unemployment

  • Alternative base period

alternative base period - georgia unemployment

wage requirements - georgia unemployment

Lawful presence

Due to Georgia state law, all applicants over the age of 18 must testify whether they are a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or a person who is not a citizen but lives in the United States legally.

You must also present an identification document with a valid and government-issued photo; for example, you may present your Georgia state driver’s license.

If your local stay in the US is not verified, you will not receive the benefit. You must complete this requirement through an “Applicant Status Affidavit” by the time you submit your application to the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL).

Work Search

Since one of the requirements is that you must be unemployed for reasons other than your own, to obtain unemployment benefits in Georgia you need to be available for work and actively search for employment.

The DGOL conducts random audits of all program applicants to verify that they are effectively searching for a job; if you stop complying with this or if you are not honest, you will be denied the benefits and in some cases, you will have to return the payments you have received.

Now, you may be wondering how to meet this requirement? Here is what you should do:

  1. Register with the Employment Services Division through the GDOL page
  2. You must have the capacity and availability to accept a suitable job offer.
  3. Search for employment every week and keep a record to present it to the GDOL.
  4. Make at least three job contacts a week.
  5. Apply for all job offers made by the GDOL.

Can I refuse a job offer without being penalized?

Yes. There are certain exceptions where you can decline a job offer if you are applying for unemployment benefits in Georgia. However, you must notify the GDOL of this situation and they will evaluate if you did it for a valid reason; for example, if the salary is lower than the minimum wage or if it is lower than the wages of the same type of work in the same area.

Required Documentation

The second step to obtain the benefits is to collect the documents required by the GDOL. Some of the documents you need are as follows; however, GDOL agents may request additional documentation from you if it is needed.

  • A current government-issued photo ID (such as your driver’s license).
  • Your Social Security number (if you do not have it, you cannot apply).
  • The dismissal letter issued by your previous employer.
  • A copy of your last income tax payment return.
  • Names, addresses, and details of the jobs you had in the last 18 months.
  • If you are not a citizen of the US, your alien number and its expiration date.
  • If you are former military personnel, your most recent W-2 Form.
  • Details of your personal bank account and the routing number (for direct deposit purposes).
  • SF-50 or SF-8 form and paystubs for federal employment in the last two years.

➡ READ ALSO: What to do if your employer owes you money?

How To Apply – File The Claim

The last step is to submit your claim to the Georgia Department of Labor. You have two ways to do it, online or in person.

GDOL Career Center

It is perhaps the easiest way for those who prefer personal attention; you should go to any career center of the GDOL and bring with you all the required documentation.

The only thing you need (in addition to documentation) is to have a valid email address and to file the Georgia Internet claim through the GDOL official website.

Note that only people who have earned a salary in Georgia in the last 2 years will be able to fill out the online application. If you reside in Georgia but have earned wages from another state, you should personally go to the GDOL offices to obtain information on interstate claims.