How to get Alabama unemployment benefits

Unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in Alabama (AL) are administered by the Alabama Department of Labor. UI is just one of the employment programs administered by the AL Department of Labor, whose overall mission is to be a steward of tax dollars by offering workforce development programs that promote a positive economy for employers and job seekers in the state of Alabama.

Alabama unemployment insurance benefits help supplement income for individuals who have lost their job or are only partially employed by no fault of their own. The program is funded by employer taxes. Benefits are paid in weekly payments and are not based on financial need. If you’ve recently lost your job due to a company closure or downsize or have had your hours significantly reduced, you are likely eligible for these benefits.

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How Unemployment Works in Alabama

And How To Get Unemployment in Alabama

  1. File an unemployment claim with the Alabama Department of Labor as soon as you become unemployed.
  2. After receiving an approval or rejection notice from the Alabama unemployment department, begin receiving weekly unemployment benefits. If your application was denied, you will need to file an appeal.
  3. Begin (or continue) searching for new employment, submitting a weekly claim online or through the Department of Labor website. These weekly vouchers show you are looking for work and allow you to continue receiving benefits.
  4. You may recieve Alabama unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, with a weekly payout of at least $45, but at most $265.
  5. If necessary, such as times of high Alabama unemployment rates, you may consider filing an application for an unemployment benefits extention, enabling you to continue getting a weekly claim even if you have done so for 26 weeks.

What Alabama unemployment benefits eligibility requirements do I need to meet?

The state of Alabama unemployment guidelines requires you to submit your social security number in order to receive benefits. The Department of Labor uses this information to verify your identity, gather employment and income information maintain your payment records and collect other data. You must have a Social Security number or work authorization number to be eligible for UI benefits in Alabama.

How much, if any, Alabama unemployment benefits you are eligible for is based on two determinations:

1. Monetary determination

This determination will note how much you earned during the base period quarters and your maximum weekly benefit amount (also known as your Alabama unemployment weekly claim), should you meet eligibility. Your base period consists of the first four out of the last five quarters the week before you begin your Alabama unemployment claim. The wages you were paid during this time period will determine your benefit amount. 

To qualify for benefits, you must meet these Alabama unemployment qualifications:

  • You must have earned money via insured wages during at least two quarters of your base period.
  • The wages earned during your two highest-earning quarters must average out to at least the minimum income requirements of $1157.01.
  • Total earnings during your base period must be more than or equal to one-half times earnings in your highest base period quarter.

2. Separation determination

Unemployment benefits in AL are only paid to individuals who lose work or have reduced hours due to no fault of there own. You cannot receive benefits if:

  • You chose to quit without just cause.
    Just cause may include situations like hostile work environment, but do not include things like lack of transportation or too long a commute. If you quit your job the burden of proof is on you to show proper reasoning.
  • You were fired or let go for misconduct.
    As stated in Alabama Unemployment Compensation Claim (UC) Law, your employer will be asked to show documentation that you were terminated for a work-related cause.
  • You’re involved in a labor dispute.
    Individuals involved in a labor dispute are not often eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

In addition to meeting Alabama unemployment requirements for monetary and separation determinations, those wanting to collect unemployment benefits in the state must also meet and maintain the following requirements at all times while receiving benefits:

  • Be able to work.
    To qualify as able to work, you must have the physical and mental capabilities to accept and carry out a job. If you are ill or injured, you are not eligible for benefits until you are well enough to go back to work.
  • Be available for work.
    To qualify as available for work, nothing can prevent you from accepting a new job if the opportunity should arise. If you do not have transportation, are unwilling to accept a reasonable work schedule or allow your personal life to interfere with work commitments, you are not available for work and therefore ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. If you go on vacation, you are also unavailable for work and should not collect benefits during that time.
  • Be willing to register for employment services and participate in fact-finding interviews, profile updates and Alabama unemployment eligibility reviews as needed.
    Receiving unemployment benefits in Alabama is not a passive task. You are expected to engage with employment services, maintain accurate information and claims and offer up information to the Alabama unemployment deparmtent (also known as the Department of Labor) as needed. Failure to do so can lend you ineligible to receive benefits.
  • Be willing to accept suitable work.
    You are expected to accept a suitable job within your professional industry and reasonable commuting zone should a position be offered to you. The definition of suitable work varies based on prior earnings, positions held and training you may have had. As a general rule of thumb, if you are offered a job similar to one you’ve held before, you will likely be penalized for not taking the job. Additionally, as the length of time you’ve collected benefits increases, you are expected to be more flexible in the type of work you’re willing to accept. As time goes on, you are more likely to penalized for turning something down.
  • Be actively searching for work
    See section below for more information.

What are the work search requirements for receiving unemployment benefits in Alabama?

To meet Alabama unemployment eligibility requirements, you must be actively searching for work through reasonable means within your industry. You will be asked to report out on this activity in each of your weekly claims. The following guidelines outline practices that imply a reasonable and active job search:

  • Send in job applications weekly. Reach out to former employers about opportunities as well as researching new opportunities in your line of work.
  • Reach out to employers during business hours.
  • In-person meetings are often most effective. Use in-person networking along with phone calls and résumé submissions.
  • Apply directly with the person making hiring decisions.
  • Focus on jobs you are qualified for within normal commuting distance.
  • Create or upload your résumé on Alabama JobLink and make it available to employers searching for applicants.
  • Visit your Alabama JobLink workforce center weekly to take advantage of jobs leads and job search resources.

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I acknowledge and understand that by submitting this Contact Request form through clicking "Check Eligibility!", I provide my express consent to the following: (1) That I am bound by Eligibility.com LLC’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use; (2) That I am not required to submit this form, and thereby agree to all terms located herein, as a condition to receive any property, goods, or services that may be offered, and that I may revoke my consent at any time.

How do I apply for Alabama unemployment benefits?

The Alabama Department of Labor accepts claims in several ways; you can file your Alabama unemployment application online or by phone.

To submit a claim online, visit the Alabama Department of Labor website. You will need to have Javascript and cookies enabled to submit a claim. While the latest version of internet explorer is recommended, you may use any browser.

You can also apply for Alabama unemployment over the phone. To do so, call the Alabama unemployment phone number (also known as the Claims Line) at 1-800-234-5382. First, you will be guided through general eligibility questions by an electronic system then connected with a customer service representative to complete the rest of your claim. It is best to use a landline when submitting a claim by phone to ensure no information is lost should a call be dropped.

Whether you file your unemployment claim via phone or through the Alabama unemployment website, you will need the following:

  • Social Security number
  • Name, current address and dates of employment for your recent employer(s)
  • Driver’s license or State ID number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Work authorization number, if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Member 4 copy of you DD214, if separating from the military

How much will my unemployment insurance payments be? How will I get paid?

Alabama has a weekly minimum benefit amount of $45 and a maximum of $265. Your benefit amount is calculated based on earnings in your base period. After you have submitted an Alabama unemployment claim filing, you will receive a document called a monetary determination indicating all your eligible base period earnings and what your payments will be.

Alabama offers two payment options—direct deposit and Vantage Debit Card. To set up direct deposit, you must provide your bank routing number for your personal savings or checking account when you file for Alabama unemployment. Find this 9-digit number on the bottom left-hand corner of your personal check.

Weekly payments will be paid automatically. However, should you choose the debit card option, it will not be mailed until the first payment is released and can take up to 10 business days to arrive. All subsequent payments will automatically be loaded on the card. You may withdraw debit card payments at any MasterCard member bank without any fees.

How soon will I get paid? How long can I receive benefits?

You should file your claim as soon as you are out of work. This will ensure your benefits payments begin as soon as possible. Regardless of when you file, there is a one-week waiting period between losing your job and filing the claim during which you will not receive benefits. If you follow all procedures, payment comes quite quickly. In general, if you file a complete and accurate claim by 5 p.m. you will receive payment the next business day. Allow up to 48 hours for the payment to be processed by your bank.

How long can I receive Alabama benefits? Can my benefits be extended?

In Alabama, you are generally eligible to receive benefits for up to 26 weeks. In some cases, such as times of economic downturn where the Alabama unemployment rate is high, you can extend this period with High Unemployment Benefits Compensation (HEB), Alabama’s 20-week unemployment benefits extension program. This extra benefit is only available during periods of high unemployment and is not guaranteed. Individuals who file an Alabama unemployment extension request must meet and maintain the same eligibility requirements used to receive regular unemployment benefits.

Can I appeal the decision if my Alabama unemployment benefit claim is denied?

To appeal an unemployment insurance determination, Alabama unemployment laws require you to file an appeal to the Hearing and Appeals Division of the Alabama Department of Labor within 15 days of the original decision being mailed or within seven days of the decision being delivered in person. If this day falls on a weekend or holiday, you have until the next business day to submit your appeal. Appeals are required to be made in writing and faxed to 1-334-956-5891 or delivered to:

Alabama Department of Labor
Hearing and Appeals Division, Room 4677
649 Monroe Street Montgomery, Alabama 36131

To be accepted by the Alabama unemployment office, the appeal must include:

  • Printed full name
  • Last four digits of your Social Security number
  • Statement explaining why you do not agree with the decision
  • Your signature

After the appeal is filed you will receive a notice of hearing to let you know the date, time and Hearing Officer’s name for your Unemployment Compensation Telephone Hearing. You will submit any documents and evidence to the Hearing Officer prior to the hearing and may also ask witnesses to supply testimony during the hearing. After the hearing, the Hearing Officer will make a timely decision and mail it to all parties involved. Continue filing weekly claims as you move through the appeal process.

Check Your Eligibility

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I acknowledge and understand that by submitting this Contact Request form through clicking "Check Eligibility!", I provide my express consent to the following: (1) That I am bound by Eligibility.com LLC’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use; (2) That I am not required to submit this form, and thereby agree to all terms located herein, as a condition to receive any property, goods, or services that may be offered, and that I may revoke my consent at any time.

How do I Contact the Alabama Unemployment Insurance Program?

Keeping Alabama unemployment contact information with your benefit paperwork to ensures that you'll easily be able to solve problems with your claim or have questions answered quickly. Most unemployment benefit services can be conducted online at labor.alabama.gov. To file your claim over the phone, call 1-866-234-5382. If you have a specific question about your claim, call 1-800-361-4524. You can also visit one of multiple Alabama unemployment office locations.

Alabama Unemployment Related Key Terms

Alabama JobLink: statewide network of 49 career centers offering job search assistance and employment services to job seekers. 

Al Vantage Card: unemployment benefits payment option that loads payments directly onto a debit card. Payment can be withdrawn at any MasterCard member bank for free or cash can be withdrawn using any KeyBank and Allpoint ATM.

Base year: year-long period in which earnings are used to determine your Alabama unemployment eligibility and benefit amount. In AL, the base period is first four of the previous five calendar quarters (January/February/March, April/May/June, July/August/September and October/November/December) taking place the week before your claim was filed.

Claim week: seven-day period beginning Sunday and ending Saturday. Alabama unemployment weekly claims reports include only information from this time period and any corrections to previously submitted information.

Covered or insured employment: Work performed for an employer paying into unemployment insurance under Alabama’s Unemployment compensation law. Only wages earned from this type of employment are used to calculate your Alabama unemployment amount and eligibility.

Monetary determination: documentation sent by mail after filling out an initial unemployment insurance claim that outlines your eligibility and benefit amount.

Separation determination: decision made regarding the eligibility of the reason you separated from your previous employer to allow you to receive unemployment benefits.

Waiting week: one-week period between stopping work or working reduced hours before you are eligible to begin receiving unemployment benefits.