Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Find     
Site Image
Issues That Could Affect Benefits
The Review Process
 
The issues listed below will cause a stop to be placed on an unemployment account until a decision to pay or deny has been made.  If an issue exists on your claim, you should continue to file weekly claims during the investigation.  An adjudicator will usually complete an investigation within two to three weeks once you have claimed a week.  If additional information is needed, you will be contacted by letter or phone with questions on issues with your claim.  Be sure to respond immediately with complete information. 
 
Any time we reduce or deny your benefits, we notify you in writing. These written notices are called Administrative Decisions and have appeal rights. If you do not agree with the decision, you have the right to have the decision reviewed through the appeals process, which means you can have a hearing. Your employer has the same right if a written decision allows benefits.  
See also Hearings and Appeal Process 

 
 
NOTE:  The information presented here is fairly simplistic and does not present all the legal aspects that can impact an eligibility determination.  Please do not call our offices to see if an issue would result in a denial of benefits.  Our staff are not authorized to pre-determine an issue before the issue exists and we have received a claim for benefits. 
 

Able to work
 
In order to be eligible for benefits, you must be physically and mentally able to work each week you claim.  A benefit denial can result from being unable to work the majority of a work week.  A benefit denial can also result if you are unable to work less than the majority of a work week, and caused you to miss available work.  If you are not able to work during a week claimed, you may be disqualified for the weeks affected by this issue.
 
If you are limited to part time work because of a permanent or long-term disability, you may still be eligible for benefits.

Available for work
 
To be eligible for unemployment insurance, you must be willing to work all days and shifts normal for your occupation. You must also be available for full, part-time and temporary work.  A benefit denial can result from being unavailable for work due to lack of childcare, transportation to work, shift limitations, etc.  If you are not available for work during a week claimed, you may be disqualified for the weeks affected by the issues.
 
If you are limited to part time work because of a permanent or long-term disability, you may still be eligible for benefits.
 

Away from your labor market
 
When you file a weekly claim, you must inform us if you were away from your permanent residence for more than 3 days in the prior week.  If you leave the area of your permanent residence and still want to receive benefits, you must:
  • Look for work in the other area
  • Keep track of your job contacts on your Work Search Record form, and
  • Be willing, ready, and able to take a job in the new area..
 
This requirement applies to everyone, even those on a temporary layoff or who obtain work through a union hiring hall. Leaving town for a day or two won’t usually stop your benefits unless you miss an opportunity to work. If you are on a vacation or traveling for reasons other than seeking work for more than a few days, you may not be eligible for benefits for that week.
 

Job separation
 
Unemployment insurance is based on the premise that a claimant has become unemployed due to no fault of the claimant.  We notify the last employer you worked for to verify why you are out of work.  If you became unemployed for any reason other than a lack of work, then an adjudicator will conduct an investigation to determine if benefits are payable based on the circumstances surrounding the separation from work. Based on the type of separation, the investigation will pursue answers to the following questions:
 
 

Discharged from a job:
Were you suspended or discharged for misconduct connected with the work?
 
Quitting a job:
Did you leave work with good cause?  Did you leave work within two weeks of a scheduled layoff? 
 
Leave of absence:
Did you pursue all alternatives to leaving work, and are you now able and available for work?  Why didn’t you return to work when the reason for the leave of absence ended?
 
Labor dispute:
Are you involved in the labor dispute?  Are you a member of a group actively participating, or supporting the labor dispute?
 
NOTE:  The information presented here is very simplistic and does not present all the legal aspects that can impact an eligibility determination.
 
If the investigation results in a denial, the following disqualifications (two parts) are applied:
  • Benefits are denied until you work and earn at least four times your weekly benefit amount in wages and you have no new disqualifying separation from work.  For example, if your weekly benefit amount is $200, you must earn at least $800 to requalify. You must earn this money by working for an employer who is required to pay unemployment insurance taxes; you cannot use self-employment to requalify for benefits. You must do this work after the week in which you were discharged, suspended, voluntarily left work or failed to accept or apply for suitable work.
  • Your total benefits for your benefit year are also reduced by eight times your weekly benefit amount. For example, if your weekly benefit amount is $200, your total benefits are reduced from $5200 to $3600.
 
 

Pensions
Employment Department Law provides that weekly benefits may be reduced by a pro rated weekly share of retirement pay received from any retirement plan maintained or contributed to by an individual’s base period employer(s).   Lump sum retirement payouts from base year employers also may result in a deduction from your benefits.   
 
If your retirement pay changes during the life of your claim, you must notify the Employment Department. 
 

Refuse/Fail to apply for work
 
Failing without good cause to accept suitable work when offered; or failing without good cause to apply for suitable work when referred to a job by the Employment Department, can result in a disqualification from benefits.  When investigating these issues, an adjudicator will ask why you failed to apply or accept the work.  The adjudicator will also determine if the work was suitable for you, based on your location, skills and prior work history.
 
If the investigation results in a denial, the following disqualifications (two parts) are applied:
  • Benefits are denied until you work and earn at least four times your weekly benefit amount in wages and you have no new disqualifying separation from work.  For example, if your weekly benefit amount is $200, you must earn at least $800 to requalify. You must earn this money by working for an employer who is required to pay unemployment insurance taxes; you cannot use self-employment to requalify for benefits. You must do this work after the week in which you were discharged, suspended, voluntarily left work or failed to accept or apply for suitable work.
  • Your total benefits for your benefit year are also reduced by eight times your weekly benefit amount. For example, if your weekly benefit amount is $200, your total benefits are reduced from $5200 to $3600.
 

School attendance
 
School attendance can affect your eligibility for benefits if you limit the hours and days you can look for or accept work. During an investigation of this issue, the adjudicator will determine if you can attend class at other times, make special arrangements with your instructors, or if you would drop school to work.  If you are not available for work due to school attendance, you may be disqualified for the weeks affected by the issues.
 
If benefits are allowed while attending school, you must still keep looking for and be willing to accept full-time as well as part-time work. Tell your Unemployment Insurance Center the week before you start school, even if you take only one class.
 
You can attend school and receive benefits if you are in an approved training program.
See also Special Unemployment Programs
School employees
 
If you have wages from an educational institution in the base year of your claim, Oregon laws ORS 657.167 and ORS 657.221, in conformance with federal law, require that benefits cannot be paid to those employees during customary holiday or vacation breaks and/or between terms and academic years, if the person is reasonably assured that he or she will return to work after the end of the recess period. This applies to all employees of educational institutions no matter what type of work they perform. This also applies to only wages earned from an educational institution.
 
The Employment Department must make a decision about your eligibility to use these wages on your claim. Your benefits will be delayed during the investigation and decision-making process.
 
You can help shorten the delay by promptly completing and returning the School Employee Questionnaire which have or will be mailed to you. The form is needed regardless of occupation and is required even if you have worked year round.
 
Continue to make weekly claims for each week that you are unemployed and seek benefits.  If you have further questions about the Adjudication process for school employees, please contact the Benefits Adjustment Unit at 1-800-237-3710 and select option 1.

Seeking work
 
You must seek work immediately if:
  • you do not expect to return to full-time work for your last employer, or
  • if you expect to return to full-time work for your last employer, but not within four weeks from the last day worked, or
  • if you are unsure when you will return to full-time work with your last employer.
 
If you are temporarily laid off and have a definite date to return to work within four weeks from the last day of work for your regular employer, you are considered to be actively seeking work if you stay in touch with your employer.
 
If your return to work date is delayed, you must advise your UI Center immediately and you must begin seeking work immediately.
 
Union Members:
  • If you are affiliated with a closed referral union (one that does not allow its members to seek work on their own) and get all your work through a union hiring hall, then you are actively seeking work by being a member in good standing and remaining in contact with your union.
  • If you are affiliated with a union that allows its members to seek work on their own, you must seek work by contacting employers within your trade.
 
Seeking work means applying each week with employers who hire people with your experience, training and skills. You must actively seek and be available for full-time, part-time, permanent and temporary work.  Contact new employers each week. You may also contact former employers if you have reason to believe they may rehire you. When possible, file written applications or résumés, even if there are no current job openings. Keep detailed written records of your work search. This means:
  • Employer names, 
  • Addresses, 
  • Phone numbers, 
  • Dates contacted, 
  • Names of individuals contacted, and
  • Type of work sought.
 
In addition, you must fully register for work with our electronic job match system (iMatchSkills®). You are exempt from this requirement if you are union-attached or have a return to work date with your regular employer within four weeks from your last day worked.
 
You can register for work using iMatchSkills from any computer with Internet access at www.WorkingInOregon.org. If you do not have Internet access, you can register in person at the local Employment Office or WorkSource Oregon office. It is not possible to register by phone. If you are claiming benefits while living in a state other than Oregon, you must register for work in the state where you are living (instead of iMatchSkills).

 
 

Self employment
 
Establishing a valid unemployment insurance account: 
You must establish a valid unemployment claim before you can receive benefits. You may have enough hours of work and wages for a claim if during your base year:
  • you were self-employed, but also worked as an employee of one or more other employers; and/or
  • you were self-employed, and your business was incorporated. 
 
For more information about what employment and wages qualify for a claim, contact an Unemployment Insurance Tax representative.  
 
If you have questions about whether you should or should not be treated as self- employed (independent contractor), find helpful information and resources at our Independent Contractor page.  
Being self-employed while claiming:
You may be eligible for benefits if you are self-employed. Your eligibility will depend on several things, such as:
  • your prior jobs,
  • the type and size of your business,
  • how much time you spend on your business,
  • whether you are willing and able to drop self-employment for full-time work, and
  • other factors.
 
If you are self-employed now or start a business while claiming benefits, call your Unemployment Insurance Center about expenses that you can deduct from the earnings you report on your weekly claims. Failure to tell us that you are self-employed may cause a denial of benefits and result in a fraud investigation.
 

Other issues
 
Other issues that can affect your benefits include, but are not limited to: 
  • Failing to complete a full iMatchSkills registration or complete in-person enrollment activities.
  • Failing to participate in Worker Profiling
  • Failing to provide information required to process your claim:  benefits are denied on a week-to-week basis. It ends when you provide the needed information.
  • Being a school employee who is unemployed between terms or school years:  If you have reasonable assurance of returning to work after the recess, you may only be eligible for benefits based on your non-school wages. Many factors apply in making this determination. 
  • If you do not have authorization to work in the United States, we cannot pay you benefits.
  • If you were fired because you committed a felony or theft connected with your work, your benefits based on wages earned before you were fired are eliminated.
  • If you intentionally withhold or misrepresent facts to obtain benefits, you can be penalized for up to 52 unpaid weeks. The penalty remains in effect until it is satisfied or up to five years. You must also pay back the benefits and face other penalties that could include a jail sentence.