Montana Unemployment Insurance Benefits Guide

Calendar Icon Updated February 26, 2019
Unemployment

Introduction

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Unemployment Insurance Division administers Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for the state of Montana.  The UI program pays short-term benefits to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own. 

Employer taxes pay all costs for the program.  No money is deducted from workers’ paychecks to fund the program.

How do Unemployment Insurance Benefits work in Montana

  1. Make sure you meet all benefit requirements before you apply.   You must meet minimum wage earnings in your Base Period, have an acceptable reason why you are unemployed and other related requirements.
  2. Apply for unemployment insurance if you meet all the requirements.   To file an initial claim you can do so online here.  Filing online can take place 24-hours-a-day, 7 days a week.  You can also file a claim at any Job Service Montana Office during normal business hours.  To find your nearest Job Service Montana location, go here, or check your local phone book.
  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.  You will receive a monetary determination after your initial application that will detail how much and how long you will receive UI benefits.
  4. Know how and when you will be paid.  Claimants can choose to receive benefits by direct deposit or by the use of a debit card.  You can choose to collect benefits weekly or bi-weekly.
  5. Conduct an ongoing job search.  You are required to look for full-time work on a weekly basis while drawing benefits.  You must register for Job Service Montana as well as contact employers, documenting your efforts in case you are audited.
  6. File an appeal if you are denied benefits.  If you file for unemployment in Montana and you are denied benefits, you have the right to file an appeal.

Eligibility requirements

The Montana DLI bases UI eligibility on these factors:

  • Your Base Period or Alternate Base Period wages
  • The reason for your job separation
  • Your continuing ability and availability to work and your ongoing active searches for work.  

Specifically, your can be eligible for benefits if you meet the following criteria:

  • No more work was available with your employer through no fault of your own
  • The employer reduced your hours due to lack of work
  • Your discharge was not due to misconduct on your part
  • The reason you left is related to the work and allowed by law
  • You moved with your spouse due to a military reassignment
  • You were forced to leave your employment because you or a child of yours are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • Verification of your citizenship or legal-to-work status if you are not a US citizen.
  • You must be physically and mentally able to work.
  • You must be available to accept work immediately if a job is offered.
  • You must be actively seeking work and meeting your work search requirements.
  • You must keep a complete record of your work searches and produce them if you are selected for a job search audit.
  • You must register for work at www.jobs.mt.gov or in person at your local Job Service Montana office
  • You must respond to all requests to information from Montana DLI
    After you have requested benefits on your claim for 13 weeks, you must be willing to accept work paying 75% of your previous wage in the type of work you have previously done or have the training to do, but never less than the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher.
  • You might be eligible for UI bene ts while attending school or training. Your coursework or training will be reviewed based on its capacity to improve your employability or increase your earning potential. All coursework must be reported. This includes classroom attendance and taking online or correspondence courses.
  • If you begin to receive disability, retirement or pension payments, back pay awards, or workers’ compensation payments, you must contact the Claims Processing Center immediately.
  • You must update your mailing information within three days after it changes

Reasons why you may not be eligible to receive UI benefits

  • You left your job for personal reasons that were not work related, such as lack of transportation, childcare or family illness issues.
  • You were suspended or discharged for misconduct which could include theft, illegal actions, carelessness or negligence, insubordination, destruction of company property or other similar transgressions.
  • You are on an employer approved leave of absence
  • You did not respond to requests for information, did not supply accurate information or did not file a UI benefit payment request in a timely manner.
  • You are not available to work the hours or days that are customary for your occupation.
  • You are receiving workers’ compensation for an on-the-job injury
  • You did not conduct and report a viable and verifiable work search effort.
  • You are self-employed full time.
  • You did not register for work at Job Service Montana website.
  • You refused suitable work.
  • You took time off of missed scheduled work for any reason.
  • You committed fraud related to submitting accurate information regarding your UI claim. If you commit UI fraud, you will have to repay any benefits received, plus an Administrative Penalty equal to 50% of those benefits. In addition, you may be disqualified from receiving benefits for up to 52 weeks and be subject to criminal prosecution for felony theft.

How do I apply for benefits?

Before you apply

You will need to have several pieces of information available before you file a claim:

  • Social Security Number
  • Current mailing address
  • Current telephone number and email address
  • The full name, address and phone numbers for all employers you have worked for in the past 18 months
  • If you are an ex-military member, you will need to provide a copy of your DD214, Member 4
  • If you were a Federal employ, you will need to provide a copy of your SF8 or SF50
  • If you obtain work through a union, you will need to provide the name and local number of your union hall
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to provide your alien registration card number and expiration date
  • If you want to have your benefits paid to you by direct deposit to your bank account, you will need to provide your bank account number and bank routing number for the account you want funded deposited.

Filing an initial application

To file an initial claim you can do so online here.  Filing online can take place 24-hours-a-day, 7 days a week.

You can also file a claim at any Job Service Montana Office during normal business hours.  To find your nearest Job Service Montana location, go here, or check your local phone book.

After you file an initial application, you will receive a Monetary Determination notice that will contain all of your Base Period wages, the amount of benefit you can expect to collect and how many weeks you can expect to collect on your claim.  If you had wages from any federal, military, or out-of-state employment, the notice will indicate “pending”. That means we are waiting for information from another source and you will receive a new Monetary Determination notice once this information has been verified.

If you believe the wages or employers listed are wrong or there are wages or employers missing, contact the Claims Processing Center. Inaccurate wages could result in a benefit Overpayment or Underpayment.

Filing ongoing claims

You must meet all eligibility requirements every week that you file to claim UI benefits. 

You can file for ongoing UI benefits either online or by telephone.  To file by telephone, you must call the Claims Processing Center serving your area between 9 am and 4 pm, Monday through Friday. 

Make sure you report any hours and earnings for the weeks that you claim.

How much will I be paid?

In Montana, your weekly benefit amount will be 1% of your total wages in the base period, or 1.9% of your total wages in the two quarters of the base period in which you were paid the most.

Currently, the most you can receive each week is $487 per week; the minimum amount you can receive is $139 per week. These limits are adjusted from time to time for inflation.  You can receive benefits for up to 28 weeks.

The Base Period is the 12-month period used to determine your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) and the number of weeks you may be paid benefits.

The Base Period comprises of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your application for benefits. A calendar quarter is a three-month period ending March 31, June 30, September 30, or December 31.

If you are not eligible on a regular Base Period, an Alternate Base Period (ABP) will be used to determine your eligibility. Once a determination is made, you will be sent a Monetary Determination notice.

Earning up to 25% of your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) does not reduce your payment. After that, your WBA will be reduced by $0.50 for each dollar earned.

When and how will I be paid?

You can request payment online here for each week you want to get paid.

Eligibility Team

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