Nebraska (NE) Unemployment Benefits Guide

Calendar Icon Updated February 26, 2019
Unemployment

Introduction

The Nebraska Unemployment Insurance Program is governed by the Nebraska Employment Security Law and administered by the Nebraska Department of Labor.

Unemployment insurance benefits are paid from the Nebraska State Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which is supported by a tax on employers throughout the state.  No deductions are taken from employees’ paychecks to fund the program.

The first step in applying for benefits is to create an account at NEworks.nebraska.gov and post your resume online for employers to view. On NEworks, you can search job listings and apply for positions that match your qualifications. While you are receiving unemployment benefits, at least one of the required weekly job contacts must be completed through NEworks.

How Unemployment Benefits work in Nebraska

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

  1. Make sure you meet all benefit requirements before you apply.  This includes meeting all monetary wage requirements, being able and willing to go back to work, being registered on NEworks, among others.
  2. Apply for unemployment insurance if you meet all the requirements.   All claims must be filed online here.  If you do not have access to a computer or the Internet at home, you can use computers at any Nebraska Department of Labor Job Center location.  As part of your initial filing process, you must register for NEworks.   
  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.  The maximum amount you can receive in Nebraska is $414.
  4. Know how and when you will be paid.  It takes about 3 weeks to process an initial claim.  You will be paid 3 days after you file a weekly claim.  Claimants can choose to receive benefits by direct deposit or by the use of a debit card.
  5. Conduct an ongoing job search.  You are required to look for full-time work on a weekly basis while drawing benefits.  You must document your efforts and you must also register for work with NEworks.
  6. File an appeal if you are denied benefits.  If you are denied benefits, you have the right to file an appeal to have the decision overturned.

Eligibility requirements

You must meet several eligibility requirements to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits in Nebraska.

  • You must meet all base period wage qualifications.
  • You must have become unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • You must be able to work and available for work four or more days of the week for each week you claim benefits. You are not considered able and available if you lack of transportation, have childcare problems, family care issues, are sick or injured in any way that would prevent you from working. You are also not considered available for work if you are in jail four or more days during the week.  
  • You must maintain an active NEworks registration and an online and searchable resume. The online resume is not required if you are going back to work for your employer or are a member of a union with a hiring hall.
  • If you receive a notice that you have been selected for the Reemployment Services Program (NEres), you are required to take part in this program to maintain eligibility.
  • You may be contacted and required to provide additional information regarding your claim. Failing to report and provide the information requested may disqualify you from benefits.   
  • It is also necessary that you update your address and contact information with the Nebraska Department of Labor in a timely manner
  • If you are planning to attend vocational training, you may apply for the Approved Training program. If your application is approved by the Commissioner of Labor, the work search requirements will be waived while you are in training until you exhaust your regular unemployment insurance claim. After your regular unemployment benefits are exhausted, you may be eligible for up to an additional 26 weeks of benefits if you continue your training.
  • If you quit your job, it must be for a good cause.  In Nebraska, a good cause for quitting includes but is not limited to the conditions of work, compelling health reasons, or quitting to escape spousal abuse.

Reasons why you might be denied benefits

  • You may be disqualified for 12 weeks for failing to accept an offer of suitable employment or failure to accept a Nebraska Department of Labor Employment Service referral.  
  • If you do not meet the minimum requirements for your weekly work search contacts during the benefit week, you will be disqualified for the period in which your work search was inadequate.   
  • If you are employed for or on behalf of an educational institution, benefits may be denied between terms and/or during regularly scheduled breaks.  
  • You can be disqualified for the week(s) you are unemployed due to a work stoppage resulting from a strike or lockout.
  • Benefits may be denied or reduced for any week in which you receive additional payments from your employer. This might vacation, severance, holiday, bonus, sick, workers’ compensation or pension payments.   
  • The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires all employers to verify employment eligibility of new employees. Failure to present the documents to your employer or the Nebraska Department of Labor may affect your eligibility for unemployment benefits.
  • If a person has quit a job without good cause, a disqualification is assessed for the week of the quit plus 13 weeks, as determined by the Nebraska Department of Labor.
  • If a person is discharged from a job for misconduct, a disqualification is assessed for the week of the discharge plus 14 weeks, as determined by the Nebraska Department of Labor. In cases of misconduct, the burden of proof is on the employer.
  • If a person is discharged for misconduct not considered to be willful and flagrant or unlawful, but which included being under the influence of any intoxicating beverage or being under the influence of any controlled substance not prescribed by a physician licensed to practice medicine or surgery, and when the person is under the influence on the work site or while engaged in work for the employer.
  • If a person is discharged due to an act or omission that is willful and flagrant or unlawful.
  • If you have a leave of absence from your employer.  A leave of absence is not a complete separation from employment. As generally defined, a leave of absence is a mutual agreement between the employee and employer. The employee is not separated and does not report for work for a mutually agreed upon time period.
  • If you are regularly attending school as a full-time student, you may be disqualified from benefits unless you were a student at the time you earned the majority of the wages in your base period.  

 How to apply for benefits

Before you apply

Before you file an initial application for benefits, you will need to make sure you have several pieces of information available: 

  • Social Security Number 

  • Complete home mailing address, including ZIP code 

  • Telephone number 

  • Email address 

  • County you live in 

  • Driver’s license number or State ID card number 

  • If you select direct deposit, your bank routing number and account number 

  • The company names for all your employers from the past 18 months as they appear on your paycheck stubs or W-2 forms 

  • Complete mailing addresses of employers, including ZIP code and the city in which the business is physically located 

  • Your start and end dates with each employer, including month, day, and year 

  • Your reason for leaving each employer (lack of work, voluntary quit, discharge, leave of absence) 

  • Employment authorization number and expiration date (if a non-citizen) 

  • If you served in the military the past 18 months, DD 214 Member #4 Form. 

  • If you worked for the federal government as a civilian employee in the last 18 months, Standard Form 8 or Standard Form 50. Also, compile your total wages earned with the federal employer in the last 18 months and indicate how you were paid (hourly, weekly, and monthly). 


Filing an initial claim

File an initial claim the same week you are unemployed or working reduced hours. Your unemployment insurance claim DOES NOT begin on the date your job ended or your hours were reduced. Your claim is effective the week you apply.

All claims must be filed online here.  

If you do not have access to a computer or the Internet at home, you can use computers at any Nebraska Department of Labor Job Center location.

As part of your initial filing process, you must register for NEworks.  All claimants must complete an online resume unless you have a recall date with your employer or are a member of a union with a hiring hall. If you are filing a claim from another state and do not live in a county bordering Nebraska, you must also register for employment services in the state of your residence.

When filing for unemployment benefits online, you will choose a secure password and use it to file your weekly claim each week. You may also be required to create a 5 digit-PIN to access claim information through the Nebraska Claim Center automated phone system.

Unemployment Insurance claims are typically processed within 21 days from the date the claim is filed. Federal and State law require that a request for separation information be sent to each employer to verify work history, earnings and details regarding the separation.

While your claim is being processed

Read all communication about your claim. Check your email, the NEworks Message Center, telephone messages, and the mail for any claim-related updates. Keep your address current because you’ll receive letters outlining what you need to do to maintain benefit eligibility.  

File for weekly benefits. You have from Sunday to Friday to file your claim for the previous week. If you don’t file your claim on time, your benefit payments may be affected.

Report your gross earnings (before taxes are deducted) each week. You must report all earnings for the week that you perform the work. Do not wait until you are paid. Keep track of the total hours you work each week, Sunday through Saturday. Misreporting wages is fraud and could result in penalties and criminal charges.

Filing weekly claims

After you file your initial claim, file weekly claims online at neworks.nebraska.gov for every week you are unemployed or your hours are reduced. You must file a weekly claim for any week that you want payment or waiting week credit, even if your eligibility is being decided or you have an appeal pending.

 For step-by-step instructions on filing your weekly claim, go here.  

You have from Sunday to Friday to request benefits for the previous week. Failure to file your weekly claim on time could result in denial of benefits.

The first eligible week is called your “waiting week.” To get credit for the waiting week, you must file a weekly claim and meet all eligibility requirements for that week. The waiting week is never paid. However, you must serve a waiting week to be eligible for payments for later weeks.  

How much will I receive?

The maximum weekly benefit amount for 2018 is $414.

Your individual benefits are calculated by identifying the highest quarter earnings in your base period. That amount is then divided by 13 to arrive at the average weekly wage, then divided again by two and rounded down to the next even dollar amount to arrive at your weekly benefit amount.

Filing your initial claim online will allow you to receive an estimate of your weekly benefit amount at the end of the filing process. You will also be advised of your weekly benefit amount when you receive your monetary determination.

You may be eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits during a 12-month period. The maximum amount of unemployment benefits you may receive during your benefit year is 26 times your weekly benefit amount, or 1/3 of your total base period wages, whichever is less.

The Base Period is the time period of employment used to evaluate your claim. A quarter consists of three consecutive months. Each calendar year consists of four quarters. The regular base period is the first four of the last five completed quarters at the time of your claim  

If eligibility cannot be established for a regular base period claim, the Department of Labor will explore alternate base period eligibility. The alternate base period consists of the last four completed quarters.

To be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, you must meet the minimum earnings requirement from insured work during the base period. For 2018, the minimum earnings requirement is $4,145.74.

In addition to meeting the minimum earnings requirement, you must also have been paid at least $1,850 in one quarter and $800 in another quarter. Wages must be earned from employers required to pay unemployment insurance taxes (insured employers).

When and how will I be paid?

You are required to select a payment method of direct deposit or debit card when filing your initial claim. Nebraska does not issue paper checks.

If you are determined eligible, you will typically receive payment within 2-3 business days of filing your weekly claim.

Direct Deposit 

Direct deposit is an electronic payment transfer to an individual’s checking or savings account. When you file your initial claim and select direct deposit as your preferred method of payment, or when you modify your bank account information, you must enter the bank routing and account numbers.

Debit Card 

The ReliaCard debit card is a VISA prepaid card issued by US Bank. The ReliaCard debit card is mailed in a plain white envelope from Indianapolis, Indiana at the time a claim becomes payable.

Keep all information that is provided with the card. You can expect to receive the card approximately 7-10 business days after you receive waiting week credit.

If you have a change of address, you must report your new address to ReliaCard by calling US Bank/Reliacard Customer Service at 855-233-8429.

You can change your payment method by logging into your unemployment claim here.    

Looking for a job while claiming benefits

The first step in applying for benefits is to create an account at NEworks.nebraska.gov and post your resume online for employers to view.

On NEworks, you can search job listings and apply for positions that match your qualifications. You can even set up a virtual recruiter to automatically schedule job searches. Employers searching for workers with skill sets matching yours will be able to review your resume and contact you regarding potential employment.

While you are receiving unemployment benefits, at least one of the required weekly job contacts must be completed through NEworks.

Please log on to file an initial unemployment insurance claim, certify your weekly eligibility or reopen a claim. If you need assistance in filing your claim online, or if you have earned federal, military or out- of-state wages in the last 18 months, call the Nebraska Claims Center at 402-458-2500.

The Department of Labor provides a reemployment program that includes an orientation session and one-on-one assistance. Staff will review your employment history, help you create an employment plan and refer you to the reemployment services that fit your needs.

Job assistance is available at the following American Job Centers:

American Job Center, Beatrice
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
5109 W. Scott Rd., Ste. 413
Beatrice, NE 68310-7059
Phone: (402) 223-6060

Fax: (402) 223-6088

Email: ndol.beatricewfd@nebraska.gov

American Job Center, Grand Island
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
203 East Stolley Park Rd, Ste. A
Grand Island, NE 68801
Phone: (308) 385-6300

Fax: (308) 385-6029

Email: ndol.grandislandwfd@nebraska.gov

American Job Center, Lincoln
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
1111 O Street, Suite 205
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: (402) 413-9236

Fax: (402) 620-6221

Email: ajclincoln@rescare.com

American Job Center, Omaha Heartland Workforce Solutions 
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
5752 Ames Ave.
Omaha, NE 68104
Phone: (402) 444-4700
Email: ndol.omahawfd@nebraska.gov

The Nebraska Department of Labor provides a Reemployment Services (NEres) program, designed to help you find work. The program selects individuals early in their unemployment and offers job seeker services to help you become reemployed as soon as possible. If you receive a notice that you have been selected, you are required to take part in this program in order to remain eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

If you live in Nebraska or an out-of-state county bordering Nebraska, you must make and log five work search contacts per week, including at least one contact per week using NEworks.nebraska.gov. Work search requirements will change throughout the duration of your claim.

 

You have two options for logging your work search. You may log your work search contacts online at neworks.nebraska.gov as soon as you make them, before you submit your weekly claim for benefits. You may also log your work search contacts for the previous week at the same time you claim your weekly benefits.

What if I am denied benefits?

Adjudication is the process used to resolve questions regarding eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. Your claim may be referred to an adjudicator if there are questions about why you left your job or whether you are able and available for work.

During adjudication, a determination will be made about your claim based on all available information, including information from you, your employers, and sometimes other sources.

While your claim is pending adjudication, you should continue to file weekly claims and complete your weekly online work search logs. If your claim is determined payable and you have met all other eligibility requirements, you will receive back payments for prior weeks claimed in a lump sum.

If you disagree with a determination issued, you have the right to appeal within 20 days.

You can file an appeal several ways:

Online:  neworks.nebraska.gov

By mail: Nebraska Appeal Tribunal, Nebraska Department of Labor, PO Box 98941.

If your appeal is in writing, you must state the reason you wish to appeal, and include your signature, Social Security Number and employer’s name. Include the Determination ID from your determination letter.

By fax: 402-471-1734

By email:  NDOL.Appeals@nebraska.gov

After you file, you will be notified by the Nebraska Appeal Tribunal that an appeal has been received. In a separate notice, you will be informed of the time and date of the hearing.

It is important that you participate in the hearing. Appeal hearings are free and a lawyer is not required, although you may be represented at your own expense. Appeal hearings are conducted by telephone conference call.

While your appeal is pending, continue to file for weekly benefits, complete any required work search contacts, and log these contacts here.

If you disagree with the appeal decision, you may request that the decision be reconsidered or you may appeal to the District Court.

For more information

To file new or weekly claims for benefits, go here.

ReliaCard – Debit card inquiries 

(855) 233-8429

Administrative
General information
402-471-9000

Unemployment Insurance Benefit Claims
402-458-2500
Email: ndol.nichelp@nebraska.gov
 
Unemployment Insurance Program Office Locations

Alliance
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – Th; 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. F
1750 Sweetwater Ave., Room 009
Alliance, NE 69301
Phone: (308) 763-2935

Fax: (308) 763-2936

Email: ndol.alliancewfd@nebraska.gov

Columbus 
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
3100 23rd St., Ste. 22
Columbus, NE 68601-3161
Phone: (402) 564-7160

Fax: (402) 563-2715

Email: ndol.columbuswfd@nebraska.gov

Hastings
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
2727 W. 2nd St., Ste. 338
Hastings, NE 68901-4684
Phone: (402) 462-1867

Fax: (402) 462-1896

Email: ndol.hastingswfd@nebraska.gov

Lexington 
Hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tu and Th
1501 Plum Creek Parkway, Ste. 3
Lexington, NE 68850
Phone: (308) 324-2064

Fax: (308) 324-6320

Email: ndol.lexingtonwfd@nebraska.gov

Lincoln 
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
1111 O Street, Suite 222
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: (402) 471-4474
Email: ndol.lincolnwfd@nebraska.gov

McCook
Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. M; or by appointment
402 Norris Ave, Suite 304
McCook, NE 69001
Phone: (308) 345-8470
Email: ndol.mccookwfd@nebraska.gov

Nebraska City 
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tu and W; 8 a.m. – Noon Th
917 Wildwood Lane, Room 104
Nebraska City, NE 68410-3312
Phone: (402) 873-3384

Fax: (402) 873-3552

Email: ndol.nebraskacitywfd@nebraska.gov

Norfolk 
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
105 E. Norfolk Ave., Ste. 120
Norfolk, NE 68701
Phone: (402) 370-3430

Fax: (402) 370-4431

Email: ndol.norfolkwfd@nebraska.gov

North Platte 
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
306 E. 6th, Ste. 140
North Platte, NE 69101-4160
Phone: (308) 535-8320

Fax: (308) 535-8085

Email: ndol.northplattewfd@nebraska.gov

 Scottsbluff 

Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M – F
505A Broadway, Ste. 300
Scottsbluff, NE 69361-2708
Phone: (308) 632-1420

Fax: (308) 632-1414

Email: ndol.scottsbluffwfd@nebraska.gov

York 
Hours: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. M; or by appointment
510 Lincoln Ave.
York, NE 68467-2997
Phone: (402) 362-5891

Fax: (402) 362-5901

Email: ndol.yorkwfd@nebraska.gov

Eligibility Team

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