How To Determine Your Base Period

Eligibility Team
Researcher & Writer
January 31, 2016

In order to receive unemployment insurance benefit payments, you are required to meet state income and time worked requirements in a period of time called a “base period.” In the majority of states, your base period is a one-year time span consisting of the last four out of the most recent five calendar quarters worked before filing your claim. In most cases, your unemployment agency will look at a base period of these four full calendar quarters when determining eligibility.

If you file your unemployment claim in January through March, your base period is January through September of the previous year as well as October through December of the year prior to that. For claims filed April through June, the base period is January through December of the previous year. A base period of April through December of the prior year and January through March of the current year is used for claims filed in July through September. Finally, claims filed in October through December have a base period of July through December of the previous year and January through June of the current one.

Date of Claim
Base Period
Jan-MarOct-Dec [2 years previous], Jan-Sept [previous year]
April-JuneJan-Dec [previous year]
July-SeptApril-Dec [previous year], Jan-March [current year]
Oct-DecJuly-Dec [previous year], Jan-June [current year]

The standard base period does not capture your most recent work activities. Because of this gap, some states allow you to file a claim using an alternate base period to determine eligibility. This alternate period is almost always the four most recent calendar quarters before filing your claim. For example, if you file a claim in December, the alternate base period is January through December of the previous year. This method counts more recent time worked and wages earned, which may have a positive effect on overall eligibility as well as the amount of your benefit payment.

If determining your base period seems daunting, have no fear. It is our mission at to answer every question you may have. Further, your unemployment insurance agency is well-versed in the subject and will calculate your income eligibility using the base period. That being said, the more you know about how your eligibility is determined, the better equipped will be to make your claim as strong as possible and catch any mistakes that might happen. Never be afraid to ask questions about how your income and other eligibility requirements are calculated and have us walk you through the process.

Learn more about Unemployment Eligibility in your state by selecting it below:

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Eligibility Team
Written by
Eligibility Team
We are a team of experts dedicated to finding the right government programs for you. Our mission is simple: help people quickly and easily understand which programs they might be eligible for—all in one place. Our team is dedicated to researching and providing you with the most relevant information. We compile only the most trusted information from government sources into one place so you can find the facts you need and skip what you don’t.
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