Guide to Alaska (AK) Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Calendar Icon Updated February 26, 2019
Unemployment

 

Introduction

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development oversees Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in the state.  Employers fully fund the program, and no taxes are taken out of employee’s pay to cover any expenses.

To be eligible, you must meet several conditions including being unemployed through no fault of your own, earning enough wages during your base period, and other several other requirements.

How Unemployment benefits work in Alaska

  1. Make sure you meet all benefit requirements before you apply.  Review all the requirements to ensure your application is accepted.
  2. If you meet all benefit requirements, then you can apply for unemployment insurance.    In Alaska, to file a claim and to manage your account, go here and create an online account.  You can file a claim online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You can also file by phone through the state’s VICTOR system in you are not able to file online.
  3. Determine the amount of your benefit.   The amount of your unemployment insurance benefit is calculated by the amount of insured wages paid to your during a one-year period called a Base Period.
  4. Determine the number of weeks you can draw benefits.  The number of weeks you can collect unemployment benefits will be determined by how much and when you earned wages in your Base Period.  You can draw benefits for between 16 and 26 weeks.
  5. Know how and when you will be paid.  Alaska makes UI payments to claimants either by direct deposit or through the use of a debit card.  You will need to decide which form you want when you file your claim.
  6. Conduct an ongoing job search.  You are required to actively seek full-time employment while collecting benefits by making either one or two job search contacts per week, depending on where you live.  You must also register with the state’s job search system and post a resume online at the Alaska Labor Exchange System (ALEXsys).
  7. You can file an appeal if you are denied benefits.  If you are denied or disqualified from receiving benefits, you have the right to file an appeal.

Eligibility requirements

You are responsible for meeting all eligibility requirements when you file an application for Alaska UI benefits.  Those requirements include:

  • Actively seeking suitable full-time employment.
  • Reporting weekly employer work search contacts.
  • Reporting all work activity and earnings for each week you file.
  • Registering for work as directed by your local state workforce agency.
  • Being ready and able to work.  You must be physically able and available to seek and accept suitable full-time work.  If you apply for or are a recipient of Workers’ Compensation or Social Security Disability, you must report this to your claim center.
  • Employers and department staff must be able to contact you.
  • You must have transportation and child care coverage.
  • You must not be incarcerated in a correctional center, city jail or community residential center.
  • You must be available and accept suitable work, meaning work you are suited for by experience or training that meets the prevailing wage and working conditions for your locality and is realistic to your labor market.
  • You are expected to be flexible in your work search and to accept suitable work even if the pay is less than you earned in your last job.
  • You may be eligible to receive benefits while attending approved vocational or academic training. Report any school or training when you file your biweekly claim or call your UI claim center.
  • You must report if you quit your job, are fired or refuse work so a determination of eligibility can be made.  If you left your job for good cause, such as dangerous working conditions, you may still be eligible for benefits.
  • When called to active duty, National Guard members must report encampments and wages earned. Do not report weekend drills.

How to file a claim

Before you file a claim

Before you file a claim, you will need to gather several pieces of information.

  • Social Security number
  • Name of your last employer, mailing address and phone number
  • Dates of employment for the past 18 months
  • Hours and gross wages earned in your last week you worked
  • If not a U.S. citizen, your alien registration number, work permit type, and/or passport number and expiration date
  • Gross amount of holiday, vacation, severance or bonus pay you received the last week you worked
  • Retirement information if currently receiving retirement payments
  • If you worked for the federal government in the past 18 months you will need Form SF8 or SF50
  • If you were active duty military in the past 18 months you will need copy 4 of your DD214

Filing an initial claim

In Alaska, you can file an unemployment benefits claim either online or by phone.  Claims are effective Sunday of the week in which you open or reopen it.

To file a claim and to manage your account, go here and create an online account.  You can file a claim online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you are unable to file online, you can file by phone using the automated filing system VICTOR. VICTOR does not provide full service and has limited hours. Alaska residents more than 55 road miles from an Alaska job center can file Wednesday-Saturday, 6 am to 7 pm. All other VICTOR filers can file on Thursdays, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Whether filing online or by phone, you are responsible for the answers provided and payments made using your username, password and PIN. These electronic signatures have the same legal authority as your signature on paper.

Filing biweekly claims

Once you’ve opened a new claim or reopened an existing claim, you will be given dates to file your biweekly claims. You must continue to file in a timely manner every two weeks to keep your claim active and to keep receiving benefits.  Weeks that are filed after 7 days after the last Saturday of your two-week claim period will be considered late and may be disqualified.

You should note that the first week that you file a claim is considered a “waiting week” and you will not receive any payment for this week.  However, you must file for benefits to get credit for this week before you can receive payment for subsequent weeks.

You must report gross wages for each week that you file.  Gross wages are the amount you earned before any deductions were taken out.  You must report these wages whether you were actually paid or not.

If you earn any wages from being self-employed, subtract your business expenses for that week from your total income earned for that week from your self-employment work.  If you did not and will not receive payment for the self-employment services, you must still report the hours you spent on your business.

How much will I be paid?

The maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA) in Alaska is $370. The minimum WBA is $56.   The duration of benefits you can collect is between 16 and 26 weeks, depending on the amount of wages that you earned during your base period and how they were distributed to you.

Your claim is based on wages paid to you in the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters from when you file your claim.

If you do not qualify for a regular base period claim, you may be eligible for an alternate base period claim. This uses wages earned in the last four completed calendar quarters from when you led your claim.

If you have worked in another state during the benefit year, those wages may be requested to increase your weekly benefit amount, or you may choose to file for benefits with the other state, but you can only file for benefits in one state at a time.

Dependents’ allowance 

You may be able to receive an additional allowance of $24 per week per child, for up to three children, subject to the following conditions:

  • A dependent is your natural child, stepchild (by marriage), legally adopted child or court-appointed legal ward.
  • Your dependent must be unmarried and under the age of 18, unless they have a permanent disability.
  • A dependent must reside with you, or you must certify that you provided more than 50 percent of the dependent’s support over the past 12 months or since the loss of custody.
  • If you certify to providing more than 50 percent support, you may be required to provide proof.

You can add a dependent to your claim anytime during your benefit year before you exhaust your benefits. To add a dependent, call a UI claim center.

Do not commit fraud

You must answer all questions related to your unemployment claim truthfully.  Failing to do and attempting to collect benefits as a result will be considered fraud.  All fraud cases may be subject to criminal charges, fines and in some cases, jail or prison time. Not only will you be required to repay any illegally obtained benefits, but you may also have to pay a penalty equal to 50% of the benefits that were paid to you as a result of the misrepresentation.  And, further benefits may be withheld.

You must report all the wages you earned each week. Your benefit payment will be reduced by 75 cents for each dollar you earn more than $50. If you do not know how much you earned at the time you report, call the UI claim center within seven days with the correct wage amount.

If you have gross wages equal to or more than one and one-third times your weekly benefit amount plus $50, you will not receive a benefit payment for that week.

If you suspect someone is committing fraud, contact the state offices by email at uifraud@alaska.gov or by calling  (907) 269-4835, (907) 269-4880 or (877) 272-4635.

Your benefits are taxable

When you file your tax return you will need to report any unemployment benefits as income and pay taxes accordingly.  You will be sent a 1099G by January 31 detailing the amount of your benefits paid to you for the previous year.  When you file a claim you can request that 10% of your benefits be withheld for tax purposes.

Extended Benefits

Extended Benefits may be available during times of high unemployment for recipients who exhaust their regular benefits.  They are available only when the program is active.  Eligible recipients will be contacted and provided with instructions when Extended Benefits becomes active.

When and how will I be paid?

Alaska unemployment benefits are paid either through direct deposit to you bank account or by debit card.

The default payment method is a debit card unless you choose direct deposit when you sign up for benefits.  Electronic payment is normally deposited within three business days of filing your biweekly certification.  A debit card and information packet will be mailed to you when you file a claim for benefits. Included in the packet is information on how to activate your card which is issued through KeyBank. If you have debit card questions, you can contact KeyBank’s toll-free customer service number at (866) 295-2955.

Looking for work while claiming benefits

While you are drawing UI benefits in Alaska, you must conduct an ongoing job search for full-time work.

Part of this involves registering for work and posting a resume online at the Alaska Labor Exchange System (ALEXsys).  You can also register by calling your nearest job center.  You must keep your resume current and accessible at all times. Your registration and resumes stay active while you are engaged in job search and referral activities in ALEXsys and/or while receiving reemployment services from job service staff.

If you are a member of a dispatching union you must be in good standing and on the out-of-work list. If you are outside of Alaska, you must register with the local state workforce agency office or with the local chapter of a dispatching union. Proof of out-of-state registration may be requested.

Your work search effort must be with employers and positions that are suitable based on your skills and capabilities.  To be considered valid, contact must be made with a person who has the authority to hire, using a method of contact appropriate for the occupation (i.e., in person, telephone, fax, mail, email or employer website).

For each work search you are required to report the date, name of the employer and the method of contact when you claim benefits.

You can get more information on conducting an effective work search by going here.

Alaska Job Centers assist seekers with job leads, training, and advancing your career, among many other services offered.  You can get more information on Job Centers online or by calling (877) 724-2539.

What if I am denied benefits?

If you are denied benefits for any reason, you can appeal that decision by filing an appeal. You must phone, fax, mail or email your request for an appeal to a UI claim center or an Appeals office within 30 days of the decision.

A hearing will be scheduled and you will be mailed a notice giving you details of when and where to report for the hearing.  If you are still denied benefits after an initial hearing you do have the right to file further appeals.  To make sure you are paid benefits for all weeks while waiting for your appeal to be heard, you must keep filing biweekly claims.  If your appeal is granted, you will be paid only for those weeks that you did file a claim.

For more information on the appeals process, you can go here.

Key terms

Benefit Year – typically 52 weeks following the effective date of your claim. The effective date of your claim is Sunday of the week in which you file.

UI – Unemployment Insurance

WBA – Weekly Benefit Amount.  This is the amount of benefits you will receive each week that you meet all requirements when claiming benefits.

Base Period – this is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters from when you file your claim.  You weekly benefits are determined based on the amount of wages you earn during your Base Period.

Alternate Base Period – If you have not earned enough wages during your Base Period, an Alternate Base Period may be used to see if you qualify for benefits.  It is the last four completed quarters from when you file your claim.

For more information

For general Alaska UI information online go here.

To file a claim online, go here.

If you are interested in seeking work, job training or advancing in a career, visit one of the Alaska job centers listed online or call (877) 724-2539.

Claim Center phone numbers

For UI claims assistance, call your nearest Claim Center or go online here.

Anchorage UI Claim Center (907) 269-4700

Fairbanks UI Claim Center (907) 451-2871

Juneau UI Claim Center (907) 465-5552

Toll free for remote locations: (888) 252-2557

(888) 25CALLS

Telephone hours are 10 am to 3 pm, Monday-Friday (except holidays).

Victor Phone Numbers

Call the number closest to your community:

Anchorage (907) 277-0693

Fairbanks (907) 451-6126

Juneau (907) 586-4650

Relay Alaska 

For the deaf and hard of hearing, if you need assistance with your unemployment claim, dial 711 from inside Alaska or (800) 770-8255 from outside the state.

Mailing address

Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Division of Employment and Training Services

P.O. Box 115509, Juneau, AK 99811-5509

Eligibility Team

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