A Guide to Mississippi (MI) Unemployment Benefits

Calendar Icon Updated February 26, 2019
Unemployment

Introduction

In Mississippi, unemployment benefits are administered through the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES).  Unemployment insurance benefits are provided to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own, and are designed to ease the economic burden of a job loss on a temporary basis.

Employees pay no part of the funding for unemployment benefits.  In Mississippi, employers pay all of the costs necessary to fund unemployment benefits. 

To receive benefits initially and on an ongoing basis, individuals must meet all eligibility requirements, including having earned enough wages during their base period, providing proof that they have become unemployed through no fault of their own, and that they are ready and able to work, among others.

How unemployment insurance works in Mississippi

Here’s a quick overview of how the unemployment insurance process works in Mississippi.

  1. Before you apply, make sure you meet all eligibility requirements.  You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, meet minimum wage requirements during your Base Period and be ready, willing and available to work, among others.
  2. If you meet all the eligibility requirements, then you can apply for unemployment insurance.   To file by phone, call 601-855-3133 or 1-888-844-3577, Monday through Friday between 8 am and 4:30 pm.  To file online, you can do so anytime by setting up an account on the MDES online employment services website.
  3. Determine the amount of your benefit.   After you apply, you will receive a Monetary Determination.  This will detail the amount of weekly benefits you can receive.  In Mississippi, this is between $30 and $235 and is based on the amount of wages you earned during your Base Period.  You can collect benefits for up to 26 weeks if you continue to meet all eligibility requirements.
  4. Know how and when you will be paid.  You will be paid after you you’re your second weekly claim.  Your first week is a waiting week and you will not be paid for that period, but you must still file to claim benefits.
  5. You will receive payments by check or through a debit card and your benefits will be loaded onto that card.
  6. Conduct an ongoing job search.  You are required to look for full-time work while drawing benefits.  You are expected to find and apply to appropriate job openings on a weekly basis and will be asked to report these activities as part of your weekly claim process.
  7. You can file an appeal if you are denied benefits.  If you are denied benefits for any reason, you can file an appeal to seek if your denial can be overturned.

Eligibility requirements

You must meet several eligibility requirements to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits in Mississippi:

  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own.  If you were dismissed for anything other than a lack of work, MDES will conduct an investigation to determine eligibility. If you were not discharged for misconduct connected with your work, or you can prove you had good cause to leave your employer, you may be entitled to benefits.
  • You must be physically and mentally able to work.  If you are offered work, and it is determined that it was suitable work, your benefits may be denied for up to 12 weeks.
  • You must be available for work and seeking full-time work.  You must have transportation and have made necessary childcare arrangements. You cannot have barriers or conditions, which prevent you from accepting work immediately.
  • You must have earned at least $780 during the highest quarter of your Base Period to monetarily qualify for benefits. 
  • You must have worked at least two quarters during your Base Period
  • You must have earned at least 40 times your Weekly Benefit Amount in your Base Period
  • You must be registered for work at the WIN Job Center in your area.
  • Continue to file weekly claims on a timely basis.

How to file a claim

Before you file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits in Mississippi, you will need to gather some information that will be used to process your claim.  You will need:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your current mailing address
  • Your phone number
  • The names, addresses and phone number for all your employers for the past 18 months
  • The dates you worked at those employers
  • The reason you left each employer
  • An alien registration number of Visa number if you are not a U.S. citizen

Filing initial and ongoing claims

You can file an initial claim two ways.

To file by phone, call 601-855-3133 or 1-888-844-3577, Monday through Friday between 8 am and 4:30 pm.

To file online, you can do so anytime by setting up an account on the MDES online employment services website.

You will also use this website to file weekly certification claims, including entering your work search record.

After you file an initial claim for benefits, you will receive a Monetary Determination.  This will show the amount of wages reported by your employer during each quarter of your base period.  Verify that it is accurate and contact the MDES Call Center if you find any errors.

If you worked in more than one state you may be eligible for a Combined Wage Claim.  Wages earned during your base period from all the states you worked can be combined to establish a new amount under a single state to help you qualify for benefits.  Contact MDES and speak with an unemployment claims representative who can go over your options with you. 

How much will I be paid?

In Mississippi, the maximum Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) IS $235.  The minimum WBA is $30.  The amount you receive for your WBA is based on the total wages in the highest quarter of your Base Period divided by 26.  The Base Period of a claim includes the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the effective date that you filed your claim. 

You can get an estimate of your WBA by accessing this Benefit Chart on the MDES website. 

The maximum amount of benefits that you can be paid during your 52-week Benefit Year is 26 times your WEBA, or one-third of your total Base Period Wages, whichever is the lesser amount. 

In addition, you must have worked and received wages in at least two quarters of your Base Period and earned at least $780 in the highest quarter of the Base Period

If you file a claim, but it is determined that you do not have enough wages to qualify for benefits, you can apply again after quarter changes if you are still unemployed. 

If you work part-time while collecting benefits, you may still be eligible to continue to receive benefits as long as the amount of wages do not exceed your claim amount.

You should also note that child support can be deducted from your benefit amount.  The amount will be determined by the state’s Department of Human Services.  You are also responsible for paying income tax on your benefits.  You can elect to have taxes withheld from your benefit payment, or simply pay the taxes due when you file your return. 

When and how will I be paid?

Assuming you meet all eligibility requirements, the first week that you claim benefits is known as a waiting week.  You must file for benefits, but you will not be paid for this week.  You can expect to receive your first check shortly after you have filed your second weekly certification. 

You can also choose to receive benefits by signing up for the Mississippi EPPICard debit card.  Cards are issued under the MasterCard brand.  Unemployment benefit payments will be loaded on to the card which can then be used as a regular debit card for purchases and payments. 

Looking for a job while claiming benefits

You must conduct an active an ongoing job search while you are claiming unemployment benefits in Mississippi. 

As part of your claim registration process, you will be required to sign up with the MDES Win Job Center program. 

At all WIN Job Centers state employment experts provide job placement assistance, job and skill training, priority services for veterans, career counseling and referral to many other valuable services.

To find the location of the WIN Job Center location near you, go here

If you are receiving unemployment benefits, you will be periodically scheduled to report to your local WIN Job Center for an Eligibility Review. You will receive a written notification in advance of the Eligibility Review appointment informing you of the date and time that you are to report.

What if I am denied benefits?

If you are denied unemployment insurance benefits, you have the right to appeal that decision and receive a hearing.  To file an appeal, within 14 days of the mailing date of your decision, you may file by mailing an appeal request to:

MDES Appeals Department

PO Box 1699

Jackson, MS  39215-1699

You can also call the MDES Call Center at 601-855-3133 or 1-888-844-3577, Monday through Friday between 8 am and 4:30 pm to get more information about filing an appeal.

After you file your appeal, you will get a written notice of the time and date of your hearing, which are scheduled as soon as possible.  After the hearing, you will receive a written decision from the Administrative Appeals Office within 14 days.  During this time, you should continue to file weekly claims.  You can only be paid for claims during the weeks that you file.  If you do not file you will not be paid if your denial is overturned. 

If you disagree with the Administrative Appeals Officer’s decision, you can file an appeal to the Board of Review and send it to the contact information on the letter you receive, or by calling the MDES Contact Center.

If you get an unfavorable decision from the Board of Review, you can file an appeal to the Circuit Coart in the county where you live.  If you disagree with the Circuit Court Judge’s decision, you can then file to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

If you have questions regarding any aspect of the appeals process, call the MDES Appeals department at (601) 321-6294.

Key terms

Appeal – The right to challenge a determination because the the determination is not legally correct or has been based on incorrect or incomplete facts.  

Base Period- The first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the calendar quarter in which a claim begins.

Benefit Week – A calendar week that starts at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and ends at midnight the following Saturday.

Benefit Year –  A one-year period beginning that begins when a valid initial claim for unemployment benefits is filed.  

Maximum Benefit Amount – This is the maximum amount that can be paid to you during your Benefit Year.  It is 26 times your WBA or one-thrid of your total wages during your Base Period, whichever is the lesser.

Qualifying Amount – To qualify for benefits, your total earnings during your Base Period must equal at least 40 times your Weekly Benefit Amount.

Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) – The weekly amount payable to an individual based on a valid claim.  In Mississippi, the maximum WBA is $235 and the minimum WBA is $30. 

For more information

Filing a claim

To file by phone, call 601-855-3133 or 1-888-844-3577, Monday through Friday between 8 am and 4:30 pm.

To file online, you can do so anytime by setting up an account on the MDES online employment services website.

To file an appeal

By mail:

MDES Appeals Department

PO Box 1699

Jackson, MS  39215-1699

By phone:

Call the MDES Call Center at 601-855-3133 or 1-888-844-3577, Monday through Friday between 8 am and 4:30 pm.

For questions about the appeals process, call the MDES Appeals department at (601) 321-6294.

Eligibility Team

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