Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact Lombardi Law Firm. The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find the answers here, you should contact us for answers to questions specific to your case. The consultation is free.
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I’m in school or in a training program. Can I get Iowa unemployment benefits even though I’m not completely “available” for work?
You can receive benefits if you’re in school or a training program, but Iowa Workforce Development has to approve the school or training first. This is called Department Approved Training and details are available here and here.
To get your training approved by the department, you must apply in writing on a form that Iowa Workforce Development can provide for you. If you can do so when you apply for benefits, provide the name of the school, type of training, class schedule, and the beginning and ending dates of training. You will receive written approval or denial from the department, and you may appeal a denial. Department Approved Training are generally approved if the training has a substantial curriculum. Approval or denial is always in writing and you may appeal if you are denied.
If you are attending Department Approved Training program and otherwise qualify for benefits, you may also be eligible for Training Extension Benefits, which, if granted, would give you an additional 26 weeks of benefits. Training Extension Benefits are only available to individuals who have been “laid-off or voluntarily separated from a declining occupation or involuntarily separated as a result of a permanent reduction of operations at the individual's place of employment.”
To be eligible for Training Extension Benefits, you also must fulfill one of the following conditions:
- Your training is for a High Demand Occupation as defined by Iowa Workforce Development
- Your training is for a high-tech occupation or training approved under the Workforce Investment Act
- You are working toward a GED in an approved program.
I want to get Iowa unemployment benefits. What does it mean to be able and available for work?
To receive benefits for any given week, you must be both able and available for work. Here are some factors that can would make you unable or unavailable to work:
- Illness, injury or hospitalization
- School attendance
- Out of town or on vacation
- Loss of transportation
- Loss of child care
If any of these factors apply to you, you will be denied benefits for that week. You have to inform Iowa Workforce Development if you think you’re unable or unavailable to work—if you don’t, you may find yourself not only denied benefits, but also accused of fraud.
If you are ill, injured or hospitalized and you want to claim benefits, you may need to provide evidence of your availability for work, such as a statement from your doctor.
What do I do after I’ve filed my claim for Iowa unemployment benefits? How do I make weekly continuing claims?
To receive payments after filing your initial claim, you need to confirm your eligibility every week using the continued claims reporting system. You can do this online or by telephone at (800) 850-5627. When you file your continued claim, you will be asked to certify that all of these are true:
- You are able and available for work;
- You have not refused any job offers or referrals;
- You are actively looking for work (unless waived); and
- You are reporting any pay or pension you are receiving.
That is the information you will have to certify. But to ensure your continued eligibility, you also have to continue to meet all of the eligibility requirements.
How do I apply for Iowa unemployment benefits?
You can apply in person or online. But not everyone can file online. If you want to file online, you have to fulfill these criteria:
- You need to have worked in Iowa during the past 18 months;
- You must not have an existing unemployment claim in any other state with benefits still available;
- You must not have an existing Railroad Unemployment claim with any remaining money available;
- If you served in the U.S. military during the past 18 months, you MUST have an Iowa residence.
If you meet these criteria, you can file your claim here. .
If you do not meet the criteria or just don’t want to file online, you can file your claim at an IowaWORKS Center. Click here to find a center near you. Many IowaWORKS Centers hold group sessions where you can get help completing the forms. You can also use a computer in the Center to file your application on-line.
No matter what method you use to file your claim, you will need to provide this information:
- Your Social Security number;
- The name, address and telephone number of your most recent employer, and the beginning and ending dates you worked for that employer;
- An Alien Registration number, if you are not a U.S. citizen;
- A DD-214 (Member 4), if you served in the U.S. military during the last 18 months;
- An SF-8 form, if you worked for the federal government in the last 18 months;
- The name(s) of anyone you will be claiming as a dependent, up to a maximum of four;
- The amount your spouse earned in the preceding week, if you want to claim your spouse as a dependent (remember, you can only claim your spouse as a dependent if he or she earns $120 or less per week you claim eligibility).
I don’t know if I was fired or laid off, or if I quit. Can I still fulfill the requirement that I “lost my job through no fault of my own”?
If your employer said “I’ll fire you if you don’t quit” and you opt to quit, you will be considered fired, and your employer will have the burden of showing that you were fired for misconduct.
If your employer told you "I don’t need you anymore, don’t come in tomorrow" you might find yourself in a gray area. It sounds like you’ve been laid off but your employer might argue that you quit without good cause or were fired for not showing up to work. To avoid this, get a statement from your employer stating that you were laid off.
There are certainly some gray areas to these rules, and it can help to have a lawyer on your side.
I quit my job. Can I still fulfill the requirement that I “lost my job through no fault of my own”?
You can fulfill this requirement if you quit with good cause attributable to your employer. Generally what this means is that if your employer did something really wrong or illegal, or made a substantial change to your conditions of employment, you would have a good reason to quit your job and so you are eligible.
You would have good cause if your employer was forcing you to engage in illegal activity, or if you were made to work very different hours than you had originally. Furthermore, if you quit because you were forced to work in unsafe conditions, you quit with good cause attributable to your employer, and so you can fulfill the job loss requirement.
You can also fulfill the requirement if you quit to avoid violence, such as violence that might result if you crossed a picket line. However if you quit because a wage reduction that occurred pursuant to collective bargaining, you will not be considered to have good cause attributable to your employer.
If you quit your job to accept another job offer, you cannot fulfill the requirement.
I was laid off. Can I still fulfill the requirement that I “lost my job through no fault of my own”?
Generally, if you’ve been laid off, you lost your job through no fault of your own. Many construction workers are laid off in the winter, and they can receive benefits. However, different rules apply to some educational employees. School employees under contract or with reasonable assurance of being able to return to work during the next academic term are not generally considered “laid off”.
I was fired. Can I still fulfill the requirement that I “lost my job through no fault of my own”?
To get benefits, you have to have lost your job through no fault of your own. As long as you weren’t fired for misconduct, you’ve fulfilled this requirement.
Misconduct can include being rude to a customer, excessive absenteeism, being late too often, or insubordination such as fighting or drinking on the job. Threats are generally considered misconduct, but whether or not profanity is misconduct depends on the facts of the case and the employer’s policies.
Being unable to do your assigned work isn’t misconduct. Just making a single mistake isn’t misconduct either. But making the same mistake again and again can be misconduct.
I’ve filed an unemployment benefits claim, but I want to get benefits every week. What do I have to do to make this happen?
You have to do two things: Stay eligible, and let Iowa Workforce Development know that you’re still eligible. Here’s how.
- Confirm your eligibility every week using the continued claims reporting system. You can do this online or by telephone at (800) 850-5627. When you do this, you will have to certify that you are able and available for work, that you have not refused any suitable job offers or referrals, that you are actively looking for work (unless waived) and that you are reporting any pay or pension you may be receiving.
- Continue to be able and available for work.
- Look for work and record your job contacts in this form.
- Record your earnings using this form.
- Report your earnings as you earn them as opposed to when you are paid.
- Accept suitable work if offered.
- Report to IowaWORKS Center when requested.
- Participate in reemployment services when told to do so.
- Return your Work Search History form when requested.
- Register for work or continue to be registered for work.
What do I have to do to be eligible for unemployment benefits?
To be eligible for the unemployment benefits in Iowa you need to be able and available to work, and you have to be looking for work. You also need to have worked in Iowa during the past 12 to 18 months, and have earned at least a minimum amount of wages as determined by the Iowa Workforce Development guidelines. You will first make an initial claim, and then for each week that you want to claim benefits, you will make a continuing claim, meaning that you will contact Iowa Workforce Development and confirm to them that you are still eligible, providing whatever documentation they ask for.
So any given week that you want to claim unemployment benefits, you must…
- Be totally or partially unemployed;
- Have worked and earned a certain amount of wages in work as an employee in Iowa in the last 12 to 18 months;
- Have lost your job through no fault of your own;
- Be able to work and available for work;
- Be actively seeking work;
- Be registered for work (unless Iowa Workforce Development informs you that this requirement is waived);
- Keep a record of your contacts on the Work Search form and provide a copy of your work search contacts on the Work Search History form upon request;
- Report any job offers or referrals that you have refused when you call in your weekly-continued claim;
- Report if you quit or are fired from any job while claiming benefits;
- Notify Iowa Workforce Development if for any reason you move or leave the area for more than three working days;
- Report all earnings before deductions when earned, not when paid. Report any vacation, severance or holiday pay (Contact Iowa Workforce Development if you are receiving Workers' Compensation or any other type of pay that may be deductible.);
- Notify Iowa Workforce Development if you are in school or training or if you start school or training;
- Notify Iowa Workforce Development if you are receiving a private pension or workers’ compensation;
- Understand that if it becomes necessary for Iowa Workforce Development to conduct a fact-finding interview to determine your eligibility for benefits, you will be mailed a notice with the date and time of the fact-finding interview—and you should comply;
- Understand that if a decision on any issue of your eligibility for unemployment insurance is appealed, your claim becomes public record;
- Understand that UI benefits are fully taxable income for federal and state income taxes;
- Understand that you may choose to have income taxes withheld from your benefit payment and that you may change the withholding choice
- Understand that attempting to claim and receive benefits fraudulently can result in loss of benefits, repayment of benefits, fines or imprisonment.