Introduction

The Connecticut Department of Labor administers unemployment insurance benefits for workers in the state who are either partially or fully unemployed and who are either looking for new jobs, in training, or waiting to be recalled back to their jobs.  The state’s CT Direct Benefits is the system that is used to administer and process benefit requests.

Funding for benefits is paid completely by taxes on employers in Connecticut.  Workers do not pay any of the costs.  To qualify for benefits, workers must meet all eligibility requirements.

How unemployment works in Connecticut

Here’s how unemployment insurance benefits works in Connecticut.

  1. Determine that you meet all requirements before you apply.  You must meet all requirements to be eligible to collect unemployment insurance in Connecticut.  This includes earning enough wages in your base period, losing your job through no fault of your own, being ready, willing and able to work, and being registered with the state’s American Job Centers, among others.
  2. Apply for unemployment insurance online.   File a new claim for unemployment insurance benefits online here as soon as you become unemployed.  If you need help filing an application, you can also visit one of the American Job Centers located throughout the state.  
  3. Determine the amount and duration of your benefit.   Your benefits are generally determined by the amount of wages you earn during your Base Period. Your base period is based on the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the beginning of your benefit year.  In some cases, you will be able to use wages from an Alternate Base Period.   In most cases, you will be able to collect benefits for 26 weeks.
  4. Know how and when you will be paid.  Benefits are paid for calendar weeks that begin on Sunday and end on Saturday. You cannot be paid until you have certified that you have met all eligibility requirements during that week. You can choose to either have payments made via direct deposit into your own checking or savings account or by having benefits loaded on to a debit card for your use.
  5. Conduct an ongoing job search.  You are required to look for full-time work on a weekly basis while drawing benefits.  Although there is no specific number of activities you are required to make, you must show a reasonable effort to secure a new job.
  6. You can file an appeal if you are denied benefits.  If you are denied unemployment benefits in Connecticut, you can file an appeal where you can present evidence and witnesses to support your claim.  

Eligibility requirements

To collect unemployment insurance benefits in Connecticut, you must meet all eligibility requirements.

  • You must meet the monetary requirement by having earned sufficient wages during your base period.
  • You must have lost your last job through no fault of your own.  You may be disqualified from receiving benefits if you were terminated for misconduct or illegal activities, among other reasons.
  • You have to be physically and mentally able to work and also be available to work.  This means you must not have any child or dependent care issues and that you have adequate means of transportation to get to and from a job.
  • You must be registered with the American Job Center.  This is the state’s employment services agency that will assist you with finding another job.
  • You must actively seek work by making reasonable efforts to find employment each week.  You may be exempted from this requirement if you are participating in approved training.
  • You must participate in selected reemployment services if you are selected to do so.
  • You must file weekly claims as directed.
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must be in legal alien status now and during the time that you earned your base period wages.  You will need to present proof of satisfactory legal alien status as part of the new claim process.
  • You will need to keep a weekly record of your job search efforts and maintain the record for as long as you are drawing benefits so that you can substantiate your claim if asked to do so.  

How to file a claim

Before you file a claim

Before you file a claim, you will need to have several pieces of information in hand to support your claim:

  • Social Security number
  • Home address/Mailing address
  • Telephone number
  • A valid email address
  • The reason why you lost your last job
  • Alien registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • A DD Form 214 if you were on active military for any part of the past 18 months.
  • A Standard Form 8 and Standard Form 50 if you worked for the federal government at any time in the past 18 months.
  • All employment information for the past 18 months, including contact information and dates worked 
  •  Additional wages you have received from vacation, severance or other sources
  • Other states where you have worked in the past 18 months.
  • If you choose to have your payments made by direct deposit, you will also need to supply appropriate information for that option (bank name and address, account and routing number).

Filing a claim

CT Direct Benefits is available 24/7 and can be accessed here.  You can file or reopen an unemployment claim.  Upon successful completion of a new claim you will receive an email with your claim status and next steps. 

If you cannot file a new claim online, you can visit one of Connecticut’s American Job Center locations throughout the state.

The Connecticut Tax and Benefits System (CTABS) and the Telebenefits line will allow you to manage your existing unemployment claim, including filing your weekly claims.  You can also get answers to questions regarding your benefits.  You can call or go online for general information on Sundays from midnight to 11 pm and Monday through Friday, 7 am to 6 pm. 

You can file your Weekly Continued claim online or by phone on Sundays from midnight to 11 pm, and Monday through Friday from 6 am to 8 pm.

Do not delay filing your claim, even if your employer has not or will not issue you an Unemployment Notice.  File your claim immediately because benefits will not be paid retroactively for those claims that precede the filing of your claim.

Automated Telebenefits phone numbers where you can file weekly claims and make claim inquiries will depend on your location.  Use the number that is the most local to your calling area.

When you open a new claim, it is valid for one year.  During that time you can collect up to 26 weeks of full benefits.

A claim for benefits begins with the Sunday of the week in which you file your claim.

Filing a weekly claim

After you have opened a new claim or reopened an existing claim, you will need to file weekly claims.  When filing, you will be doing so for the week that has just ended which runs Sunday through Saturday.  Failure to file your continued claim in a timely way may result in a denial of benefits for those weeks.

To file a weekly claim use the online system at www.FileCTUI.com or use the Telebenefits telephone system.  After accessing the system, you will be asked seven eligibility questions that apply to the week just ended.  If you do not answer these questions truthfully, it may be deemed fraudulent activity and could result in overpayments, penalties and possible loss of benefits.  If you worked during the week that you are filing, the system will ask you some additional questions.

How much will I be paid?

After you submit a new claim, it will be reviewed, and a Monetary Determination Letter will be mailed to you.  This will state the benefit amount you may qualify for, as well as showing you how that amount was calculated.  Your amount is heavily dependent on how much wages you earned during your base period.

The 52 weeks after your claim becomes effective is your Benefit Year.  This is the period that you can collect your maximum benefits, which is 26 weeks out of the Benefit Year. 

The 12-month period from which wages are used to calculate how much your benefits will be is called your Base Period.  The Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters.  An Alternate Base Period may be used only if you do not qualify for benefits during your regular Base Period.

The amount of benefits you will receive each week will be calculated based on 1/26 of the average total wages paid during the two highest quarters in your Base Period.  If you have less than $600 in your total Base Period earnings, then the Alternate Base Period may be calculated.

Here is an example:

Highest quarter of earnings            = $4,000

Second highest quarter of earnings = $3,800

Total Wages divided by two $7,800 = $3,900

Average total wages in two high quarters = $3,900

Divided by 26 = $150.

Your weekly benefit amount would be $150.

You may be eligible for a dependency allowance of $15 weekly for each child that you are the whole or main support and who are under 18 years old, or under 21 years old and a full-time student, or who is mentally or physically handicapped of any age.  Total dependency allowances may not exceed five dependents ($75) or may never exceed your weekly benefit amount.  Your spouse may also qualify for a dependency allowance in certain circumstances as well.

When and how will I be paid?

Connecticut gives unemployment insurance benefit recipients two options to receive a payment.  You can choose to either receive payments via direct deposit into your existing checking or savings account, or you can collect benefits through the use of a debit card that is issued to you.  Go here and click on “Manage Your Unemployment Claim and File your Weekly Claims”, then go to “Select/Modify Payment Option.” 

If you don’t select an option you will automatically receive a debit card.  When you receive benefits, the amount is loaded on to a debit card which can be used anywhere a debit card is accepted.  You can switch to either method at any point.

If you select Direct Deposit as your option, it will take about two business days to process your deposit after you file your weekly claim. 

If you choose the Debit Card option, the card will be mailed to you in about 7-10 days and then it will take about two business days after your weekly claim is processed thereafter for funds to be loaded on to your card.

NOTE:  Unemployment benefits are fully taxable by the Internal Revenue Service and the State of Connecticut.  You can choose to have taxes withheld at the time you file your new claim.

 Looking for a job while claiming benefits

To remain eligible for benefits, you must be physically and mentally able to work, be available to work and make reasonable efforts to obtain work. 

According the Connecticut Department of Labor, the following guidelines apply when searching for work:

  • During the weeks immediately after you first become unemployed, you may limit your work search to employment that is equivalent to your highest previous wage and skill level. However, after a reasonable period, if you have not found new employment, you will be expected to broaden your availability to other types of work and to jobs which may pay less than your highest previous wage.
  • You may be interviewed periodically by American Job Center staff who will advise you regarding your compliance with this requirement. You may also be selected for an UI Re-employment Services and Eligibility Assessment through the American Job Center . Participation, if selected, is mandatory.
  • You may be denied benefits on the grounds that you are not available for work within the meaning of the law if you significantly limit your exposure to your normal labor market by placing unreasonable restrictions on the type of work you are willing to accept or how far you are willing to travel to a job.
  • At the time you file a new claim, you will also be registered for employment services to help you return to work as soon as possible.

Exceptions to looking for a job while claiming benefits may include:  if you are able to produce a physician’s statement that establishes that you have an impairment; that you have a recall date from your employer or union hall; that you refused work, but for legitimate reasons; or that you are going to be attending school college or you are enrolled in an approved training course.

The State of Connecticut does not have a specific number of job hunting activities that you must accomplish each week to remain eligible, but you must make reasonable efforts to secure a job.  This can include activities such as networking, sending out resumes, searching newspapers, periodicals and job placement websites, cold-calling and applying in person, among others.

You must keep a record of your job search activities.  This is because the American Job Center may review your claim at any time, and you may be selected for an audit by the Labor Department’s Benefit Accuracy Measurement (BAM).  Failure to provide this information when requested could result in a retroactive denial of benefits.

The Department of Labor and American Job Centers offer a variety of career services to assist the unemployed with job search activities.  Some of these services include:

  • Job search assistance and employment referrals
  • Unemployment claim assistance
  • Résumé preparation assistance
  • Career guidance and/or career counseling
  • Re-employment workshops
  • Veterans employment and training programs
  • Labor market and training information
  • Self - service areas including: computers with Internet access, phones/fax, assistive technology and accessible workstations for persons with disabilities

Onsite recruitments with hiring employers

To find an American Job Center location near you, go here.

What if I am denied benefits?

You could be denied benefits for any number of reasons

  • You receive part-time wages or wages for any work performed, including tips.  Wages must be reported when earned, not when paid; two-thirds of the amount of your weekly gross earnings is deductible from your weekly benefit rate. This includes temporary assignments.
  • Remuneration from self - employment, whether full time or part time
  • Commissions/Stipends
  • Vacation pay
  • Severance pay or wages in lieu of notice
  • Holiday pay
  • Retention bonus
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Employer-sponsored disability payments
  • Employer-sponsored pensions
  • Unemployment Insurance under other state or federal law
  • Back pay awards

Other reasons why you may be denied benefits may include willful misconduct while you were employed, excessive absences, committing a felony during the course of your employment, committing larceny, participating in an illegal strike, sentencing and beginning to serve a term of imprisonment longer than 30 days, or violation of drug and alcohol testing that disqualifies you from performing the work you were hired to do.

If you are denied benefits for any reason, you may be able to request a hearing with an Adjudication Specialist.   You can file an appeal to any full-service American Job Center, through the Internet, or by faxing your appeal.  Full-service American Job Centers are located in Hartford, Hamden, Waterbury, Bridgeport, Danielson, and New London.

The hearing will be conducted by telephone, and you will receive an advance notice detailing the time and day it will take place.  You will have the ability to present evidence, documents or witnesses to support your claim.  You also have the right to be represented by anyone you choose, including an attorney. 

If your claim is denied, you can make an appeal to the Board of Review within 21 days of the mailing date of your notification.  If you lose your appeal to the Board of Review, you can appeal that decision to the state’s Supreme Court within 30 days.

For more information

Connecticut Department of Labor
200 Folly Brook Boulevard
Wethersfield, CT 06109

File an initial claim online at www.FileCTUI.com

Use local Telebenefits phone numbers for filing continued weekly claims.  Call the telephone number that is within your local calling area.

Full Service American Job Center (AJC) Locations can assist with filing claims, answering questions, job search activities and more.  There are also a number of Affliliate American Job Center locations as well.

BRIDGEPORT AJC

2 Lafayette Square

Bridgeport, CT 06604 - 6001

(203) 455 - 2700


DANIELSON AJC

95 Westcott Road

Danielson, CT 06239 - 2942

(860) 412 - 7000


HAMDEN AJC

37 Marne Street

Hamden, CT 06514 - 3693

(203) 859 - 3200


HARTFORD AJC

3580 Main Street

Hartford, CT 06120 - 9942

(860) 256 - 3700


NEW LONDON AJC

Shaws Cove Six

New London, CT 06320 - 4969

(860) 439 – 7400

 

WATERBURY AJC

249 Thomaston Avenue

Waterbury, CT 06702 - 1010

(203) 437 - 3380