Unemployment Basics

What Are Unemployment Benefits?

The Unemployment Compensation (UC) program provides temporary income support to individuals unemployed through no fault of their own or individuals who are working less than their full-time hours. You may apply for benefits the first day after becoming separated from employment or after your employer has significantly reduced your work hours. If eligible, you will receive money for a limited time to help you meet expenses while you’re seeking new employment. To be eligible for UC benefits, you must be a worker who performed services that are covered by the West Virginia Unemployment Compensation Law. New to unemployment? Start with the West Virginia Claimant Handbook to learn more about eligibility, benefit payments, and how to file a claim. 

All applications for benefits are checked thoroughly. Always provide complete, accurate, and truthful information when filing for benefits. Fraudulent claims may result in fines, criminal prosecution, and/or other penalties. Visit Understanding UI Fraud for more information. 

How do I Apply for Unemployment Benefits?

To file for unemployment benefits: 

  • The fastest and most efficient way to apply for benefits is online.
  • If you are unable to file online from your home/cell phone, you may visit the nearest WorkForce WV local office and utilize the computer lab to file your claim. Staff will be available to answer any questions. 
  • If you are unable to visit the nearest WorkForce WV local office, contact 1-800-252- JOBS (5627) for further assistance. 

Follow the instructions below for filing a claim.

Step 1: Eligibility 

Any unemployed individual may file a claim for UC benefits. Once the application for benefits has been filed, eligibility is based on the information provided by you and your employer(s). Individuals who are unsure if they qualify for unemployment benefits should still apply. There are three basic steps to determining eligibility for UC benefits: 

Financial Eligibility 

The first step is to determine whether you are financially eligible for benefits, also known as monetarily eligible. You must have covered West Virginia wages during the past 12 to 18 months and have earned at least the minimum amount of wages as determined by West Virginia UC Law

Benefit Eligibility 

If you have been determined financially eligible, the second step involves the nature of the job loss, also known as separation from employment. Are you unemployed through no fault of your own? This decision is based on the information provided on the initial application and information collected from the former employer. 

Maintaining Eligibility and Requalifying for Benefits

The third step is to meet weekly eligibility requirements. For example, you must be able to work full-time, be available for full-time work, not refuse suitable work when offered without good cause, and participate in reemployment services if required. To learn more, visit Maintaining My UI Eligibility and Avoiding Problems with Your UI Claim for more information.

Step 2: Apply 

Apply online to save time and receive benefit payments faster. You may apply online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Have the following information available prior to applying for benefits: 

Personal Information:

  • Social Security Number
  • Home and mailing address (if different)
  • Telephone number and valid email address
  • Government issued photo ID
  • Direct deposit bank information- bank name, account, and routing number
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen or national: Alien Registration Card
    • If you worked for the federal government in the past 18 months, Standard Form 8; Standard Form 50
  • If you were on active duty in the U.S. military during the past 18 months: DD Form 214, Member 4 or Service 8.
    Also, email a copy to: uiinitialclaim@wv.gov or you may mail it to: 
    WorkForce West Virginia
    Initial Claims Unit- 5106
    1900 Kanawha Blvd E
    Building 3, Suite 3
    Charleston, WV 25305

Information about Separating Employer: 

  • Employer’s name and mailing address
  • Employer’s phone and fax number
  • First and last day worked with employer
  • If filing during the last week of employment, gross earnings for that week 
  • Reason for leaving/Reason for reduced hours
  • If you are being recalled to this employer, date of recall
  • If you worked for a college, university, or school: your return date following a break and original terms of contract
  • Pension or severance package information (if applicable)
  • Other states you have worked in the past 18 months

Step 3: After you apply

After you have completed your initial application for benefits, you should immediately start looking for full-time work and submit your weekly certification as addressed in steps 4 through 5 below. 

Waiting Week

The waiting week is the first week you file a weekly certification and meet all eligibility requirements. Before you can start receiving benefits, West Virginia UC Law requires one waiting week per claim. You will not be paid money for the week, but claiming the week is required to receive credit for it as a waiting week.

Monetary Determination

After you have applied for benefits, you will be mailed a Monetary Determination noticeThis notification is not an approval of benefits but tells you how much you could receive if you are approved. This document explains how many weeks you may receive unemployment. Do not confuse the “benefit year” with how many weeks you’ll be eligible. The maximum number of weeks you can draw unemployment in West Virginia is 26 weeks.

The information on the Monetary Determination is what is used to determine your weekly benefit amount and benefit weeks. Review this document for any errors. If an amount is incorrect or if an employer during the past 18 months is missing, report to the nearest WorkForce WV local office or call 1-800-252- JOBS (5627) for further assistance. 

Some Individuals will receive a Deputy’s Decision

No Issue on Claim: If you have submitted your weekly certification, served the waiting week, and there’s no eligibility issue on the claim, your benefit payment should be deposited into your bank account or debit card within 72 hours of filing your first payable weekly certification. 

Disqualifying Issue on Claim: If you have submitted your weekly certification, served the waiting week, but there’s a disqualifying issue on the claim, you will not receive payment until a Deputy’s Decision has been made. Once a decision on the issue has been made, you will receive a Deputy’s Decision in the mail. If this letter awards you benefits, you can expect to receive payment within 72 hours of filing your first payable weekly certification. If this letter denies benefits and you do not agree with the Deputy’s Decision, you may file an appeal. Follow the instructions on the denial letter and submit the appeal to the nearest WorkForce WV local office by the date indicated on the denial letter.

Other Important Information

  • Submit weekly certifications
  • Report honestly and accurately
  • Watch for and read all information from WorkForce WV. This information may be time sensitive and affect your eligibility for benefits. 
  • Start seeking full-time work

Read the West Virginia Claimant Handbook to learn more about the requirements. 

Step 4: Look for work

You are required to actively seek full-time work by completing four (4) work search activities every week to maintain your eligibility for unemployment benefits. You must also document and retain proof of your four (4) work search activities each week and submit this documentation to WorkForce West Virginia upon request by the agency. To simplify this process, you can upload proof of your work search activities during each weekly certification. This proactive approach allows you to provide your proof immediately, reducing the burden of retaining it and preventing future requests from the agency for this information. Failure to complete the required work search activities or to provide adequate proof may result in the delay or denial of your unemployment benefits for that week. Acceptable work search activities and acceptable forms of proof are outlined in detail below:

Job Referrals and Suitable Work

WorkForce West Virginia may refer you to suitable job openings. You must apply for referred jobs within one (1) week of receiving the referral and accept employment if offered. Failure to apply for a job when directed by WorkForce West Virginia, or failure to accept a job offer, may result in a disqualification of benefits and a reduction of total benefits available to you. 

Employer Reporting

Employers who receive referrals from WorkForce West Virginia must report any refusal of job offers by individuals receiving unemployment benefits and must also report those who accept but leave or are dismissed within six (6) weeks of starting employment. 


The following individuals are exempt from work search activities: 

  • Those who have been summoned for jury duty 
  • Those who are in approved vocational training
  • Members in good standing of a union hiring hall 
  • Individuals receiving Low Earnings Reports
  • Individuals receiving Short-Time Compensation benefits

Visit Completing My Work Search Activities for more information. Need help logging work search activities? Utilize WorkForce WV’s Work Search Activity Log.

Now hiring: Individuals interested in working for WorkForce WV can see available jobs here. Just change the filter option to WorkForce WV to see all available positions.

Get job-search assistance

WorkForce WV can provide you with your job search! This includes job hunting tips and techniques, job referrals, and career exploration. Visit Find a Job for assistance.

Step 5: Weekly Certification

Once the unemployment benefits application has been submitted, you must submit a weekly certification for every week you wish to receive benefits. A weekly claim covers the prior week. For unemployment purposes, a week is Sunday through Saturday. A weekly certification cannot be completed until the week is over. It is recommended that you file your weekly certification on Sunday, but you may file up through Friday by 5pm.

West Virginia UC Law requires you to report all work and earnings, including tips and commissions each week, Sunday through Saturday. You must report all gross earnings, even if you have not yet received payment from your employer. Visit Reporting My Earnings for more information. 

Reopen Claim

If you have applied for unemployment benefits within the past 12 months but stopped filing your weekly certifications, you will need to reopen your claim. Do not submit a new initial claim application. To reopen a claim, click the button below and choose, “To file a new/additional Initial Unemployment Claim” and answer yes to the question, “Have you filed a claim with West Virginia in the last 12 months?” 

Benefit Denials and Appeals

If you disagree with a decision about your unemployment benefits, you may appeal that decision. Follow the instructions on the appealable notice and submit the appeal to the nearest WorkForce WV office. Note that not all correspondence is appealable. 

The Appeal Process

For more information on appeals, go to Disqualification and Appeals