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. You’ll need to apply for these benefits through your state’s unemployment insurance program, but if you have questions about whether you’re eligible for benefits read our COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits and Insurance FAQ. Also, before submitting a claim in Louisiana, check out Louisiana’s claimant handbook.
Louisiana Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility
A guide to unemployment benefits in Louisiana
The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) administers unemployment insurance benefits in the state. Benefits are funded completely by a tax on employers. Employees do not pay anything to fund the program.
Unemployment Insurance is a program designed to provide temporary financial assistance to workers who earn enough wages during a designated base period, who are unemployed through no fault of their own, and who meet all other eligibility requirements.
Qualified benefit recipients can file claims online through HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) or by contacting the state’s Unemployment Insurance Call Center at 1-866-783-5567.
Before you file a claim, you will need to gather several pieces of information:
- Social Security number
- Employer’s names, addresses, and phone numbers, including any part-time or staffing agency work you may have done for the past 18 months
- The start and end dates for current/most recent employer
- If you are not a US citizen, you will also need your Alien Registration Number.
- If you served in the US military during the preceding 18 months, you will also need your DD-214 Member Copy 4 form.
- If you worked for the federal government during the preceding 18 months, you will need your SF-8 form, if available.
To file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits in Louisiana, you can call the state’s Unemployment Insurance Call Center at 1-866-783-5567, or you can file a claim online. This applies both to initial claims and ongoing weekly claims.
For assistance in filing a claim and job search services, you can also visit one of the state’s Business and Career Solution Centers. You can use the LWC’s Local Office/Services locator tool to find the office nearest to you.
The HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) website provides a variety of reemployment services for job seekers.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has developed a call-in schedule based on the last four digits of a person’s Social Security number (SSN):
- SSNs ending with 0000-2499: Monday
- SSNs ending with 2500-4999: Tuesday
- SSNs ending with 5000-7499: Wednesday
- SSNs ending with 7500-9999: Thursday
- Anyone needing assistance can call on Fridays.
Louisiana Unemployment Contacts
Louisiana Workforce Commission
1001 N. 23rd Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment)
Include your full name, daytime phone number, email address, and last four digits of your Social Security number in your email in order for the Louisiana Workforce Commission to fully handle your request.
- Before you apply, you must meet all eligibility requirements. This includes both monetary and nonmonetary requirements. You must have earned enough wages during your base period and you must have lost your job through no fault of your own, among other requirements.
- If you meet all requirements, then you can apply for UI benefits. To file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits in Louisiana, you can call the state’s Unemployment Insurance Call Center at 1-866-783-5567 or you can file a claim online.
- After you apply, and if your application is approved, you will receive a determination letter. This letter will detail how much your benefit payments will be and for what duration. You have the right to appeal the determination if you feel there are any errors.
- Keep filing claims for every week you’re out of work. You can only be paid for those weeks that you claim. You’ll be paid either through funds that are loaded onto a debit card or through direct deposit at the bank or financial institution of your choice.
- Conduct an ongoing job search. You’re required to look for full-time work while drawing benefits. You must contact at least three different employers each week and also keep detailed records of your job search efforts.
- You can file an appeal if you are denied benefits. If you’re denied or disqualified from receiving benefits, you can request an appeal to challenge your eligibility determination.
What are the requirements to qualify for unemployment benefits in Louisiana?
To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Louisiana, you must meet the following requirements:
- You’re no longer working through no fault of your own, or your work hours have been reduced. If you quit or were fired, you may not be eligible for benefits, depending on the circumstances.
- If you’re still working less than full-time, but you earn less than what you would receive in weekly benefits, you may still be eligible.
- You must report all earnings for the week that you work, even if you have not been paid yet. This includes all income, tips, gratuities, and other sources. And you’ll need to report the gross amount before any deductions are taken out.
- If required to do so, you must report to your nearest Business & Career Solutions Center to take part in reemployment activities to help you get back to work. Failing to report may result in a denial of benefits.
- You must file a weekly claim in a timely manner to collect benefits. You can file online through HiRE or by phone at 866-783-5567. Continue to file for each week that you are not employed. You will not be paid for any week that you do not file a claim.
- You must be ready and able to go to work immediately. If you are sick, have childcare issues or transportation problems that prevent you from this, you may be denied benefits. If you were offered a job today, you must be able to accept. If there is any time that you cannot accept work, it is your responsibility to tell LWC.
- You must conduct an active and ongoing job search by contacting a minimum of at least three different employers each week that you claim benefits. You should keep a list of your work searches, including the employer’s name, address (mailing, web, or email), phone number, date of contact, person contacted, method of contact, and results. Union members and those on temporary layoff with a definite date of return may not have to follow this rule.
Why would my unemployment claim be denied or disqualified?
Even if you earn enough wages in your benefit period to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, there are other reasons why you might be denied or disqualified. The Louisiana Employment Security Law says you cannot receive benefits under any of these circumstances:
- You left your employer without good cause.
- You were fired for misconduct or illegal activities related to your employment. This includes the use of illegal drugs and/or alcohol. Misconduct shall include discharge for either on- or off-the-job use of nonprescription controlled substances.
- You fraudulently seek or receive benefits to which you are not entitled.
- You did not apply for available and suitable work as directed by LWC, or you did not accept suitable work that was offered to you.
- You are unemployed due to a labor strike where you were employed—if you are participating in or stand to profit from the dispute.
- You seek or receive benefits from another state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, or Canada.
- You receive wages in lieu of notice, compensation under the workers’ compensation law, payments under any pension plan (excluding Social Security benefits) toward the cost of which a base period employer is contributing or has contributed in your behalf, vacation pay, severance or dismissal pay, or holiday pay. However, if the amount of money you received through these is less than the weekly benefit amount you would receive, you will be paid the difference.
What if I am denied benefits? How can I appeal a denial of my claim?
If you’re denied benefits either for monetary or nonmonetary reasons, you have the right to request an appeal. To file your claim, you have 15 calendar days from the mailing date of the determination letter that is sent to you. If you file an appeal late, you’ll need to provide an explanation. Full instructions for filing an appeal are included in the decision.
You have four different ways you can file an appeal:
- File online through the HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) website.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to file.
- Mail an appeal to the Appeals Unit:
Louisiana Workforce Commission, Appeals Unit
P.O. Box 94094
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9094
- Fax an appeal to (225) 342-4223.
Since you cannot be paid for weeks in which you do not file a claim, you should continue to file your weekly claims until a final decision has been issued.
After LWC receives your appeal, you will be notified of a date and time that the hearing will be conducted.
With few exceptions, appeal hearings are usually conducted by telephone. When you file your appeal, it is critical that you provide LWC with a telephone number to reach you at least one day before the hearing. You’re asked for a phone number on your initial application, but you may update your phone number at any time through HiRE or by calling the Claim Center at 1-866-783-5567.
There are several levels of appeal that you can go through: You have a right to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge of the Appeals Tribunal. If you disagree with that decision, you can appeal it to the Board of Review. You can also appeal a Board of Review decision to the Judicial District Court where you live.
There is no charge for an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal or the Board of Review.
How much will I be paid?
The minimum weekly benefit amount of unemployment insurance in Louisiana is $10. The maximum is $247.
Your weekly benefit amount could be anywhere in this range, depending upon the total amount of wages paid to you during your base period. The total amount of unemployment insurance benefits payable to you would be equal to 26 times your weekly benefit amount.
During periods of high unemployment, the Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 1970 provides for additional unemployment insurance benefits to claimants. When this occurs, potentially eligible claimants will be notified by the Louisiana Workforce Commission and through the local news media.
Louisiana Unemployment benefits are subject to federal income taxes. If you do not elect to have federal income taxes withheld from the benefits you receive, you are required to make quarterly estimated income tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service. You’re given the option to have taxes withheld when you file your initial claim.
Do I have to look for a job to get Louisiana unemployment benefits?
You must conduct an active and ongoing job search by contacting a minimum of at least three different employers each week that you claim benefits. You should keep a list of your work searches, including the employer’s name, address (mailing, web, or email), phone number, date of contact, person contacted, method of contact, and results. Union members and those on temporary layoff with a definite date of return may not have to follow this rule.
You’ll be automatically registered for work in Louisiana through the state’s HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) system when you file your initial claim. Registering for work gives you access to search the LWC database of jobs. The HiRE website also provides a wealth of job information, services, data, and other assistance to help job seekers and employers connect in the state.
When and how will I be paid my weekly unemployment?
Benefits are paid either by debit card or direct deposit in Louisiana. You can decide which method you prefer when you file your initial claim.
If you select a debit card, you will receive it from U.S. Bank soon after you file your claim. You’ll need to follow instructions to activate your card, which you should do as soon as you receive it.
If you’ve already received a debit card from a past claim, you’ll use that one again instead of receiving a new card. If you need to replace a lost or expired card, or have any issues, contact U.S. Bank at (855) 274-0354 or (855) 282-6161.
If you meet all eligibility requirements, a deposit will be made to your debit card each week. It generally takes three to four days after you file your weekly claim before you can access benefits through the debit card. You can always check the balance by calling the customer service number listed on the card.
Your debit card will remain current for three years after it is issued and can be used repeatedly if you file additional unemployment benefit claims.
If you choose to receive your benefits through direct deposit, your funds will be deposited into your bank account or any financial institution that you choose. You’ll need to supply the Louisiana Workforce Commission with your banking information, which will be kept strictly confidential.
If a problem with your direct deposit develops, you will be notified and information will be sent to you to assist in resolving the problem. Payments will be sent to your mailing address until the problem is resolved.