A Complete Guide on Oregon Unemployment Benefits and How to File for Them

FT Contributor  | 

Unemployment Insurance is a program that provides financial assistance to workers who are unemployed and struggling financially. The program is funded by employer taxes paid to the federal government. In Oregon, it’s administered by the State of Oregon Employment Department. You can reach the department from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays, at (800) 237-3710 in-state or (503) 947-1394 directly.

If you lost your job or your hours were greatly reduced and you weren’t financially prepared for unemployment, you may be eligible to claim unemployment benefits to help replace some of your lost income. To successfully claim unemployment benefits, you must meet specific qualifications and be willing and able to look for work. Learning more about the program’s eligibility requirements and application process will help you find out if unemployment benefits can assist you during your period of unemployment.

Oregon Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

To qualify as unemployed, you must work less than 40 hours per week. Or you may qualify if you now make less than the weekly benefit amount that you’d be provided with through the unemployment program. Additional qualifications relate to your past earnings, the reason you lost your job, and your willingness to actively pursue a new job after being unemployed.

Past Earnings

You only qualify for unemployment benefits in Oregon if you earned at least $1,000 in your base year period, which consists of four out of the five last calendar quarters before you filed your initial unemployment claim. The total income you earned during your base year period must also be at least one and a half times the income you earned during the highest-paying calendar quarter of your base year.

The only income you can use as your past earnings is the income that your employer paid unemployment insurance taxes on. If you worked at least 500 hours in your base year period and were paid some income, you may also qualify for unemployment benefits.

Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must prove your termination wasn’t your fault. If you were fired due to misconduct or poor performance, you’re not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. If you voluntarily quit your job without good reason, you also don’t qualify for benefits.

If you were laid off or your company downsized and your position was eliminated, your termination wasn’t your fault. In this case, you may qualify for benefits. When you submit your unemployment claim, it may be investigated through an interview with your previous employer to confirm the reason for your termination.

Totally or Partially Unemployed

Before you receive unemployment benefits, your claim is investigated to confirm that you’re completely unemployed or working less than 40 hours per week. You may earn income while you’re unemployed and still receive benefits, but it can’t be a full-time job. You also can’t still be employed with your past employer and using paid or unpaid time off while claiming unemployment benefits.

You Must Be Able to Work

To maintain eligibility for unemployment benefits, you must be willing, available, and able to work. You’re required to actively search for employment and prove you’re conducting work searches each week. You cannot turn down a suitable job offer without good reason.

How to File for Unemployment in Oregon

You may file your initial unemployment claim online or by phone. Before you file your claim, gather the information you’ll need to complete the process, including:

  • Your Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Your Employment Registration Number, if applicable.
  • Your Alien Registration Number, if you aren’t a U.S. citizen.
  • Your past employers’ contact information.
  • The dates you worked for your past employers.
  • Information on any income you currently receive.
  • Your salary and earnings information for the past 18 months.
  • Information on the reason for your termination.

Once you have this information prepared, to file a claim online, visit the online claims system and:

  1. Choose “Begin Claim.”
  2. Answer all questions accurately and thoroughly on each screen.
  3. When completed, view your confirmation and summary screen.
  4. Print the confirmation screen for your records.

Your application is reviewed by the Employment Department. If you qualify, you’ll receive a letter confirming your eligibility, weekly benefit amount, and information on how to maintain eligibility through work searches.

To file your initial unemployment claim by phone, gather your information and call (877) 345-3484 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding federal holidays. You’ll reach an automated phone system that asks you to enter specific information to get your claim started. If you’re eligible for unemployment benefits, you’ll receive a statement by mail within 10 days that outlines the weekly benefit amount you’ll receive and your responsibilities to remain eligible for these benefits.

Appealing a Denial

If your unemployment claim is denied, you’ll receive an administrative decision by mail. This letter provides the reason for your denial and information on how to appeal the decision. If you feel your claim was wrongfully denied, follow the steps to file an appeal. You must provide information proving the denial was wrongful and you may need to provide proof and complete an interview with an Employment Office worker.

When Will I Get Paid?

When your claim is processed and approved, you’ll receive a Wage and Potential Benefit Report by mail outlining your weekly benefit amount. Your new claim is effective the week you submit your initial application. However, you must serve a “waiting week” before you receive your first benefit amount.

Claim Your Weeks

Each week that you’re eligible for benefits, you must file a claim. You can file your weekly claim online or by phone in the same manner you filed your initial claim. When you call or log on to file, you must:

  • Provide the PIN you created when filing your initial claim.
  • Answer the questions about what occurred during the week.
  • Offer information on any compensation you earned during the week.
  • Provide information on the work search activities you conducted that week.

If you turned down suitable employment, didn’t actively search for a job, or earned full-time compensation, you may not be eligible for benefits for the week.

Available Unemployment Benefits in Oregon

Benefits Available

Your weekly benefit amount varies depending on the average weekly salary you earned when you were employed. If you earn compensation while you’re unemployed, your benefits are reduced by these earnings.

Benefits Extensions

You’re eligible to receive unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks, as long as you maintain eligibility. Once you’ve received 26 weeks of benefits, you may file a new claim to start your benefits over, but only at least 52 weeks after you filed your initial claim.

WorkSource Oregon

WorkSource Oregon is a resource that provides career information and helps you search for jobs online.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a federal tax credit provided to employers who hire workers from target groups, such as veterans or ex-felons.

Oregon Labor Market Information

Use Oregon Labor Market Information to learn more about industries, career opportunities, and average salaries in the state.

iMatchSkills

iMatchSkills is an online system that uses your skills and past work experience to personally match you with careers and job opportunities.

If you need temporary help getting through a period of unemployment, Oregon unemployment benefits may provide temporary financial assistance. By filing an initial claim, you agree to actively search for work and report any income you earn while you’re unemployed.


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