COVID-19 UPDATE: Because the coronavirus pandemic has left so many Americans jobless, the federal government has given states more flexibility in granting unemployment benefits. If you have questions about whether you’re eligible for unemployment benefits read our COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits and Insurance FAQ and check out Georgia's UI claimant handbook.
Georgia Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility
A guide to unemployment benefits in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, unemployment insurance benefits are administered by the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL). Citizens who have become unemployed through no fault of their own, and who are ready and able to go to work, may meet Georgia unemployment eligibility to receive this help. It is provided to individuals at no cost.
To collect unemployment benefits, you must register with the GDOL and start a job search effort that will be monitored by the department to ensure that claimants are meeting requirements.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How to file an unemployment claim
- How unemployment works
How do I apply for Georgia unemployment benefits?
When you become unemployed, you can file a Georgia unemployment application in person or online. If you prefer to do so at home, you can visit the Georgia unemployment website. To file a physical Georgia unemployment application in person, you can visit a Georgia unemployment office.
To be able to file for Georgia unemployment online, you must be at least 18 years old, have a personal email address, and have earned wages from a Georgia employer within the past 24 months.
After you submit your application, you will receive a confirmation email with a confirmation number.
If you want to file in person at a local GDOL Career Center, check out this list of Georgia unemployment office locations, broken down by county.
Whether you apply for Georgia unemployment online or in person, you will need the following information:
- A signed affidavit that proves you are a US citizen, permanent resident, or noncitizen
- A passport, driver’s license or DHS Employment Authorization
- Your Social Security number
- Personal contact information, including name, address, and date of birth
- Complete information about your past two years of employment, including all of your previous employers, wages earned, and the reason for your separation from your most recent employer
- If you are a former government employee, you must provide an SF-50 or SF-8 form.
- Former military members must provide a DD214 form.
After you submit an initial claim, it will be reviewed to make sure it is complete. If it is certified as such, the claimant will be required to enroll in GDOL Employment Services, which is one of the Georgia unemployment department’s requirements to actively conduct a job search.
You will also be required to start claiming your first and subsequent unemployment insurance payments by undergoing a weekly recertification process. This will include providing information on your job search as well as certifying that you are in compliance with all other requirements.
To file weekly claims, you will need to have your Personal Identification Number (issued when you file an initial claim) and your Social Security number.
Georgia unemployment benefits contacts
If you have additional questions about Georgia unemployment, contact the state’s Department of Labor:
In person: Find a Georgia DOL Career Center.
To reach UI Customer Service, call 1-877-709-8185. If you’re in Atlanta, call 404-232-3001 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
How unemployment works in Georgia
- As soon as you become unemployed, file a Georgia unemployment application with the state’s Department of Labor.
- After receiving an approval from the Georgia unemployment department, you must enroll with the Georgia DOL Employment Services to receive benefits. This department will help with your job hunt.
- You will begin receiving Georgia unemployment weekly claims, anywhere between $55 and $365, depending on your previous work history and case.
- To continue receiving benefits, you must file a Georgia unemployment weekly claim to prove you are continuing to search for new work. This is mandatory and must be done weekly.
- You are eligible to receive Georgia unemployment weekly claims for between 14 and 20 weeks, depending on the Georgia unemployment rate, and so long as you continue meeting Georgia unemployment requirements.
- In times of high unemployment, the state may provide additional help. While Georgia unemployment extensions are rare, you may qualify based on a case-by-case basis.
What are the requirements to qualify for Georgia unemployment benefits?
To be eligible to receive Georgia unemployment compensation, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be completely separated from your job or have experienced a significant reduction in the number of hours you are working.
- If you are working part-time or on a temporary basis, you are earning less than what your weekly benefit amount would be.
- You must make a reasonable and sustained effort to find meaningful and suitable full-time work. You will be required to document your search efforts when you file for unemployment insurance every week. If you find part-time work, you must keep searching for full-time work. You must make at least three contacts each week.
- You must be able to prove that you are a lawful US citizen, a permanent resident, or a lawfully present noncitizen.
- You must have earned wages in at least six months of your base period. The standard base year consists of the first four completed calendar quarters in the 15 months leading up to a Georgia unemployment claim filing. You must also have earned wages that are at least $1,134 in each quarter, and your total amount of wages is 1.5 times or higher than the wages you earned in your highest base period quarter.
- If you live in another state but want to collect benefits in Georgia, you must register with your new home state’s workforce agency and follow that state’s requirements for conducting a job search. If you don’t do this in a timely manner, your benefits could be delayed or stopped.
- You will be required to serve a one week unpaid waiting period. This is usually the first week that you file a claim.
- To keep getting benefits, you must certify that you are still unemployed every two weeks. You can do this via the Internet, through the Georgia unemployment phone number, or in person through a local Georgia DOL center. Failure to claim benefits for two consecutive weeks will lead to a temporary closure of the applicant’s UI claim.
How much will my weekly unemployment check be?
The amount of benefits you will receive will be determined by what your average salary is. You will need to supply this information when you apply. Currently, the amount of benefits in Georgia ranges from $55 to $365 per week.
Your benefit amount will be determined by the amount of wages in your base period, which is the first four completed quarters in the 15 months prior to your filing of a claim. However, if you do not meet insurance eligibility criteria for wages, then you can request that you be assessed for an alternate base period, which is the last 12 months prior to filing for benefits.
How long you can collect unemployment insurance benefits is dependent on Georgia’s unemployment rate on the date you file your claim. Currently, applicants can expect to draw benefits between 14 and 20 weeks.
Once you file your claim, it is valid for 12 months, and this becomes known as your benefit year. At the end of 12 months’ time, you will need to re-file a new claim and meet unemployment insurance criteria all over again.
How will I be paid?
In Georgia, payments are made by direct deposit to a bank account or funds are loaded onto a debit card.
Reasons your Georgia unemployment claim might be denied
- You quit your job or you were fired. To collect benefits, you must be laid off or let go through no fault of your own.
- You are not actively conducting a job search.
- You are not certifying and claiming your weeks in a timely manner.
- You were not able to look for work due to childcare, illness, transportation, or other related circumstances. Remember, you must be ready, willing, and able to look for and accept work every day that you are without a job.
- You turned down a job for which you were qualified. To collect benefits, you must be ready to accept a job that matches your skill set. If you turn down a job then your claim may go into review and could ultimately be denied.
- You started school or training. You may or may not be denied benefits. Your case will be reviewed to determine if you still qualify.
- You earned money during your claimed week. You may be denied if you earned too much, or you may only get a partial benefit if the total amount falls below your benefit threshold.
What should I do if my unemployment claim is denied?
If you are denied benefits, you can go through an appeal process. You must appeal an initial determination regarding a denial within 15 days of receiving a notice. If you do not act within this time frame, the decision becomes final.
There are several levels you can go through as part of the appeal process, and you can file an appeal via email, in person, or by mail.