The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) is the governing body for administering unemployment insurance benefits in Oklahoma. It assists workers by paying benefits if they have lost their job through no fault of their own. Insurance costs are paid by employers and no deductions are made from employees’ wages to pay for Oklahoma unemployment insurance.
In addition, the OESC helps job seekers by matching them to employers as well as preparing workers to become more skilled, allowing them to enhance and align their abilities to better meet local labor market needs. The agency also gathers, analyzes and disseminates information about the labor force to improve local economic decisions.
OESC also works with the business community to assist in the recruitment and attraction of new employers or to enhance the stability of current employers. A Talent Acquisition Team is a unit of recruiters assigned to assist employers with a customized strategy of recruitment services, better connecting individuals with employment opportunities through services that allow job seekers to know and improve their skills to get the best possible job.
To assist with meeting its goals, the OESC staffs 36 Workforce Oklahoma Centers throughout the state, providing a wide range of services for job seekers and employers, including job training, education and job search functions.
NOTE: Domestic abuse victims may be eligible for Oklahoma OK Unemployment Insurance benefits. Oklahoma unemployment laws state: “If the claimant separated from employment due to domestic violence or abuse, verified by any reasonable or confidential documentation, which causes the individual to reasonably believe that the individual’s continued employment would jeopardize the safety of the individual or of any member of the individual’s immediate family.”
How Unemployment Works in Oklahoma
And How To Get Unemployment in Oklahoma
- You’ll want to file Oklahoma unemployment paperwork as soon as you become unemployed. This can be done through the Oklahoma unemployment department’s website, phone line, or in-person at an unemployment office.
- Following your application, the OESC will determine if you meet Oklahoma unemployment benefits eligibility. If you do, you will move on throughout the process; if you do not, you can consider filing an appeal.
- After being approved for benefits, you will be informed of how much you can receive per each week. Currently, Oklahoma allows a maximum payout of $490 per week.
- To keep receiving benefits through Oklahoma unemployment, contact the automated phone line or website to file a weekly claim. This information shows you are searching for new employment, and is necessary to stay eligible for benefits.
- The state only allows up to 26 weeks of benefits, and in most cases, Oklahoma unemployment extensions are rare. In some situations, such as high Oklahoma unemployment rates, extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
Oklahoma Unemployment eligibility requirements
Oklahoma unemployment eligibility is determined by a few factors. You are eligible to collect Oklahoma unemployment insurance benefits if you meet all requirements:
- You lost your job through no fault of your own, such as through a business closure, a downturn in work or other similar circumstances.
- You must be able and available to seek and accept work that is compatible with your past work and experience. Under some conditions, a work search requirement may be waived if you are accepted into an approved training program in association with the Oklahoma Works Centers.
- You must actively be seeking work.
- You meet the minimum requirements for the qualifying amount of wages during your Base Period.
- You must be registered for work through the state’s OKJobMatch system.
- To remain eligible for benefits in Oklahoma, you must file your weekly claim each week.
- You must notify the OESC if your current mailing address changes. You may be mailed important documents or instructions that you must follow and if you do not do so in a timely manner, your Oklahoma unemployment application could be delayed or you could be denied benefits.
Issues that may affect your claim can include:
- You were discharged or fired from your job. You may still be able to receive benefits after an investigation reveals the nature for your termination. If it was due to misconduct, you will not be approved for benefits. Misconduct may include the breach or neglect of your duties, dishonesty, wrongdoing, a violation of the law, or a violation of a policy or rule to ensure the orderly and proper job performance of you or your coworkers.
- You quit your job. If you can prove you quit for a good reason, such as a dangerous working condition, or that you were the victim of unfair treatment or difficult working conditions, or that you were not paid for the work you performed, you may be able to collect benefits. If you quit, the burden of proof will fall upon you to show good reasons.
- Quitting for medical reasons. If you quit due to a medical condition or to care for an immediate family member, you may be able to collect benefits. However, you must be ready and able to work and be available to seek work while filing your claim, as well as be willing to accept any suitable job offers.
- Working less than full time. You can possibly still collect Oklahoma unemployment benefits if you work less than full time. Your part-time wages will be applied against your claim. Earnings must be reported during the week you earn them, not when you actually receive payment.
You will be denied Oklahoma unemployment benefits for one or more weeks if:
- You do not participate in required reemployment services
- You fail to search for an accept work
- You refuse a suitable job offer
- You are not able to seek and accept work
- You are not a U.S. citizen who is authorized to work in the United States
- You have limited wages, hours or geographical areas of a job you will accept
- You are self-employed
- You received retirement, bonus, severance or vacation pay
- You are a union members involved in a strike
How to file an initial claim or an ongoing claim for Oklahoma unemployment insurance
Before you can apply for Oklahoma unemployment, you will need to gather the following information to be used in your claim:
- Name, including any prior married or maiden names
- Social Security number
- Mailing address
- Telephone number
- E-mail address
- Alien registration number and expiration date if you are a non-citizen
- DD Form 214 if you served in the military in the last 18 months
- Form SF 8 or SF 50 if you were employed by the federal government in the last 18 months
- Oklahoma driver’s license or ID card, if applicable
- Your last employer information, including the name of the company as it appears on your paycheck stub or W-2 form, your start and end date, the amount of wages you earned and how you were paid (hourly, weekly, monthly, etc.)
- Employment history for the past 18 months including the name of the company as it appears on your pay check stub or W-2 form, your start and end date, the amount of wages you earned and how you were paid (hourly, weekly, monthly, etc.).
You can file a new Oklahoma unemployment claim or make a claim on an existing claim two possible ways:
Online through the Oklahoma unemployment website, www.unemployment.ok.gov
Through the Oklahoma unemployment number at (405) 525-1500 inside the Oklahoma City area or (800) 555-1554 outside the Oklahoma City area.
The online system is called the Oklahoma Network Initial Claims (ONIC). It will allow you to perform a variety of actions ranging from filing a claim to updating contact information and getting information regarding electronic payment options.
The Oklahoma unemployment phone number system, called Oklahoma IVR, is an interactive voice response system that will allow you to perform many of the same functions. In addition, if you call during normal working hours, you will also be able to speak to a customer service representative.
When filing an Oklahoma weekly claim by phone, you must remain on the line until you have answered all questions and the IVR tells you “goodbye.” If you are disconnected before “goodbye,” it means your answers have not been recorded and you will need to call back again.
When filing a claim, it is important to remember that Oklahoma unemployment weekly claims filed 15 or more calendar days after the week has ended are considered untimely and with rare exceptions, will not be paid.
In addition, all responses to Oklahoma weekly claim filings are documented and recorded. They become a part of your claim. Therefore, remember that making false statements is fraud and can be punished accordingly.
How much Oklahoma unemployment insurance will I be paid?
After you file an initial claim for unemployment insurance benefits, you will receive a Notice of Determination of Benefits in the mail. This document will show what you are eligible to receive as well as other important information about your claim.
You will be assigned a Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA). The Oklahoma unemployment amount is generally 1/23rd of the highest quarter of taxable wages in your Base Period. It may not exceed the maximum amount allowed by Oklahoma law and it will not be less than $16, the minimum under Oklahoma law. In 2016, the maximum benefit amount was $505.
As an example, if the wages in your highest quarter of taxable wages was $10,000, then you would divide that amount by 23 to give you a weekly Oklahoma unemployment amount of $435.
It is important to note that only wages from covered employment may be used to calculate your benefit. Some fields are not considered “covered” and may include some religious organizations, nonprofits, real estate or insurance commissions, or wages earned from agricultural labor, from a family member of as an elected official.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must provide documentation to prove that you are legally able to work in the United States. Wages must have been earned while you were in legal alien status.
You Base Period is the 12 months consisting of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the effective dae of your claim. For base period purposes, quarters change after the first Sunday in the quarter.
Calendar quarters are defined as
- 1st quarter – January through March
- 2nd quarter – April through June
- 3rd quarter – July through September
- 4th quarter – October through December
You can only collect your maximum benefit amount during the course of a Benefit Year, which is a 52-week period. Your Benefit Year begins the Sunday of the week you file your initial claim and ends one year later.
To be able to collect benefits, you must have earned at least $1,500 during your Base Period and have total wages of 1.5 times your highest quarter. For example, this means if you earned $8,000 in your highest quarter, then you would need to have at least another $4,000 in wages in a different quarter during your base period.
Wages can be used from another state as well as from the military or from federal employment.
When and how will I be paid?
After you file an initial claim, you will have to serve a waiting period week. You must still file for unemployment insurance benefits, but you will not be paid for this week.
After the second week of your claim and you file your weekly certification, a payment is normally issued the following day. If your claim has issues that are being investigated, your payments may be delayed.
You are not guaranteed to receive your payment on the same day every week. Payments can be delayed for a variety of reasons, such as holidays, computer issues, or failures on your part to respond to inquiries for information on your claim.
Oklahoma used an electronic payment program handled by Conduent. Payments are made either by using a debit card or by direct deposit.
You can request direct deposit forms or inquire about payments by calling 866-320-8699. You can also print direct deposit forms by going to www.unemployment.ok.gov.com. If you choose to have your payments made to you by debit card, it will be mailed to you after you have served your waiting period week.
Looking for a job while collecting OK unemployment benefits
The Oklahoma Employment Security Act states that a person who is unemployed can receive benefits if they are able, available and actively seeking suitable employment at a pay rate generally available in their area of the state, and in keeping with his or her work experience, education and training.
When a person initially files an unemployment claim, they are given instructions regarding conducting a job search, including keeping detailed records of their activities. The OESC requires that a person receiving benefits must be involved with a minimum of two job seeking activities a week to remain eligible. All work search contacts are subject to audit and verification. The following rules apply to work search and work contact efforts:
- Contacts must be made in the week for which benefits are being claimed.
- You must contact a minimum of two different employers each week to meet the minimum.
- In-person and phone contacts should be made with the person who has hiring authority
- Contacts should be made for work you are willing, qualified, and in the area you are willing to work
- You cannot contact the same employer until four weeks have passed
- You must keep work contact records for two years because you could be subjected to an audit at any time during that period.
- Union members must contact their hiring hall every week.
In addition to these Oklahoma unemployment requirements, you must register with the state’s job search and training service, OKJobMatch. This site provides you with several resources, including assisting in helping perform advanced job searches, creating and posting resumes to job boards and with employers, receiving job alerts, training and education opportunities, and more. All benefits are provided free of charge.
Oklahoma also has a network of 36 Oklahoma Works Centers throughout the state that can provide a wide variety of services for job seekers, and those people who need assistance filling for unemployment insurance. To find your nearest Oklahoma Works Center and for details on programs offered at the Centers, go here.
You can also call 888-980-WORK (9675) or 800-722-0353 TTD between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday for more information.
Filing an appeal if your claim is denied: How to appeal your unemployment denial in Oklahoma
If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal your determination. It may take the OESC up to six weeks to investigate and determine if you do meet Oklahoma unemployment qualifications. During that time, you should keep certifying for benefits. If your claim is approved, you will be paid back benefits only for those weeks that you claimed.
When you are disallowed benefits, if you do not understand the determination, or if you have questions about the appeals process, contact a local Unemployment Service Center at (405) 525-1500 in Oklahoma City. If you are outside of that area, call (800) 555-1554.
Both you or your employer can appeal any decision. Both parties have 10 calendar days from the mailing date of the determinate to file an appeal. If you are not able to file within that period, you must provide a detailed explanation as to why. An Appeal Tribunal will determine if there is good cause of the filing of an untimely appeal before an actual hearing is held.
You can file an appeal in person, by mail, fax, telephone or by email. The contact information to file your appeal will be listed on your Notice of Determination. You will required to provide a detailed explanation of why you are appealing and why you disagree with the decision.
Once the appeal is filed, you will be sent an appeal packet with detailed claim information and a hearing date will be set. The notice will provide details as to how you will need to participate in the hearing as well as what records you should be ready to supply.
If the Appeal Tribunal determines you are not eligible, you can appeal that decision to the Board of Review. The Board of Review may affirm, modify, reverse or remand any part of the Tribunal decision. You will be notified in writing of the Board’s decision. This decision will be considered final unless you decide to appeal the Board’s ruling within 30 days of the mailing of their decision.
Oklahoma Unemployment Eligibility: Key terms
- Base Period – The 52 week period used to determine what level of unemployment benefits you will be paid. It is the first four of the last five completed quarters.
- Benefit Week – This is the seven day period that starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday.
- Benefit Year – The 52 week period that starts when you file an initial claim for benefits. The amount of benefits you can be paid is framed within this defined period of time. In Oklahoma, it begins on the first Sunday following the date of your initial claim.
- OESC – The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. This is the agency that oversees the administration of unemployment insurance benefits throughout the state. It also is tasked with providing job search, training and education services through the OKJobMatch system.
- Waiting Week – The first week of your Benefit Year is called the Waiting Week. Even though you will not collect benefits for this week, you will still need to file a claim for benefits.
- Weekly Benefit Amount – The amount of Oklahoma unemployment compensation you will be paid each week. It is determined based on wages earned during your Base Period and will be between $16 and $505 in Oklahoma.
- Workforce Service Centers – The OESC operates 36 offices throughout Oklahoma to provide a wide variety of job search, training and skills services for job seekers and employers. To find one of several Oklahoma unemployment offices near you, visit our guide.
Unemployment Eligibility in Other States
- New York NYS Unemployment Benefits
- California CA Unemployment Benefits
- Indiana Unemployment Eligibility
- Ohio Unemployment Eligibility
For more information on state of Oklahoma unemployment benefits
Unemployment Service Center Telephone Numbers
Inside the Oklahoma City calling area – (405) 525-1500
Outside the Oklahoma City calling area – (800) 555-1554
TTY/TTD Calls – (866)-284-6695
Online (file claim or weekly certification): www.unemployment.ok.gov