Alabama Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Learn how Alabama unemployment benefits are administered, including who is eligible, how much you'll get and how to appeal if you're denied benefits.

The Alabama Department of Labor manages the state's unemployment benefits program. The benefits support Alabama residents who find themselves unemployed or working reduced hours for reasons outside their control. Understanding how the assessment and application processes for Alabama unemployment benefits work can make it easier to access financial help if you need it.

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Alabama?

The Alabama Department of Labor considers the circumstances surrounding your unemployment to decide if you're eligible to receive unemployment benefits. It also uses your earnings history to determine monetary eligibility.

Monetary Eligibility

Alabama assesses unemployment benefits claims against monetary eligibility criteria by calculating your earnings over a base period. Like most states, it counts the base period as the five completed calendar quarters before submitting your claim. You must prove that you received an income for at least two calendar quarters during the base period from an employer covered by the Alabama Unemployment Compensation Law.

To receive unemployment benefits, you must have earned an average of at least $1,157.01 for the two quarters in which you received the most wages. Furthermore, your total base period earnings must equal or exceed 1.5 times what you earned in your highest-paid quarter. The state may include payments from employment in other states during the base period if you're an Alabama resident. If you're claiming unemployment due to reduced hours, your new weekly earnings cannot exceed your weekly unemployment benefit payment.

Separation Eligibility

Generally, you can only claim benefits in Alabama if you're unemployed for reasons that are not your fault. You might be eligible if you quit your job for a work-related reason that left you with no other option but to leave. For example, the department may approve your claim if you left your role due to workplace harassment or discrimination. You can usually claim unemployment benefits if your spouse is a US military member and you have to quit your job because of their relocation.

You might be entitled to benefits if your employer terminates your employment contract. However, the Department of Labor might refuse your claim if your employer discharged you for work-related misconduct, such as persistent absenteeism or criminal activity. The department judges these situations on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, it may consider various factors, such as whether you received warnings and the opportunity to improve your performance, although this depends on the severity of the misconduct. Alabama doesn't usually pay benefits for periods of unemployment related to labor disputes.

You can claim unemployment benefits in some situations if your employer reduces your regular working hours. However, you cannot claim benefits if you voluntarily reduce your hours.

Non-Separation Eligibility

After the Department of Labor approves your claim, you must meet specific requirements during your claim period to maintain your eligibility. You must remain available to work and accept any suitable job offer you receive. You must also accept job referrals and attend any interviews you're offered for an appropriate role. Generally, the state deems a job suitable if it fits your qualifications and previous experience. 

Anyone receiving Alabama unemployment benefits will need to prove that they are actively seeking work. The state requires you to register for the Alabama Career Center System and upload a resume to Alabama Works! to help you secure employment. You will also need to make regular applications for suitable roles during normal hiring hours. 

You must file a weekly claim for every week you receive unemployment benefits, disclosing any income you received during the week. You can file a claim online through the Alabama Claimant Portal or by calling the number provided when you file your initial claim.

How Do You Apply for Alabama Unemployment Benefits?

You can apply for Alabama unemployment benefits through the Department of Labor's online portal. Alternatively, you can call the department at 1-886-234-5382 to complete your application with a telephone representative. If you're out of work temporarily and expect to return to work with your current employer, you might be able to file your claim at your workplace. 

You'll need to provide the following information to begin claiming:

  • Social Security or Alien Registration Number
  • Driver's license or state ID card
  • Mother's maiden name
  • DD214 member 4 copy (ex-military personnel only)
  • Contact details and employment dates for your last two employers

How Much Do You Get From Alabama Unemployment?

Claimants can receive between $45 and $275 per week in unemployment benefits based on their reported base period earnings. Most eligible people can claim benefits for between 14 and 20 weeks. The state may approve extended claim periods during times of high unemployment, which it will announce publicly.

All successful applicants will need to wait for one week after approval for their first payment, known as a waiting week. This does not affect the total benefits amount payable to you, and you should still file your weekly claim as usual. 

You can choose to receive Alabama unemployment benefits via direct transfer into a nominated bank account or loaded onto an AL Vantage debit card. You can usually expect to be paid on the next business day following your weekly claim, although bank account transfers can take up to 48 hours to clear.

What Happens if Unemployment Claims in Alabama Are Denied?

If your unemployment claim is denied, you can appeal the decision in writing to:

Alabama Department of Labor
Hearing and Appeals Division, Room 4677
649 Monroe Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36131

Alternatively, you can submit your appeal by fax at (334) 956-5891. Your request should include your full name and the last four digits of your Social Security number. You should also fully explain why you feel the decision to deny benefits is incorrect. It's essential to ensure that the Department of Labor receives your appeal no later than 15 days after the mailing date printed on your decision letter or 7 days after receiving it in person. 

The Department of Labor arranges a telephone hearing and informs you of the date and time in writing. You can represent yourself at the hearing or appoint an attorney or another competent representative. You should provide any evidence you think might support your case alongside your appeal letter. Keep filing weekly claims while you wait for the hearing because you may be entitled to backdated payments if successful. 

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