Arkansas Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

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  • Arkansas unemployment benefits provide temporary financial assistance to out-of-work residents. Learn how to file for benefits and what to do if you're denied.

Arkansas unemployment benefits provide temporary financial assistance to state residents who’ve lost a job, helping them pay bills and put food on the table until they find new work. The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services administers the program, providing payouts to eligible workers and facilitating employer compliance with Arkansas unemployment laws.

By registering for unemployment benefits, out-of-work Arkansas residents may also be eligible to receive job counseling and other employment-related assistance through the federally funded Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment Program. Claimants who qualify for extra job search assistance may also take advantage of workforce-readiness workshops to learn how to successfully fill out applications and sharpen their interviewing skills.

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Arkansas

Arkansas residents who have recently found themselves involuntarily unemployed may qualify for unemployment benefits. An individual’s eligibility is contingent upon:

  • The ability to work: Applicants should have the physical and mental capabilities to adequately perform the type of work they may be reasonably expected to obtain.
  • Open availability: Applicants should be available to work as soon as they receive a job offer. They should have access to childcare, reliable transportation and suitable work attire.
  • An active work search: Unless an applicant is enrolled in an approved training program, they should be actively seeking work. All applicants must register with DWS Employment Services and contact an assigned number of potential employers each week, which varies by location. Union members must also have their union representative document any job queries they make on the applicant’s behalf.

Monetary Requirements

To qualify for Arkansas unemployment benefits, applicants must have earned wages during at least two quarters of the 12-month base period, which consists of the earliest four of the five calendar quarters prior to filing the initial claim. The state may approve an alternate base period to help part-time or low-wage workers meet these requirements. However, a claimant’s total base period earnings must also equal at least 35 times their weekly benefit amount.

Arkansas Unemployment Benefits Disqualifications

Not all out-of-work Arkansas residents are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. An applicant may be disqualified if they:

  • Are involved in a labor dispute
  • Quit their job without good cause
  • Were terminated for misconduct
  • Have an insufficient work history
  • Refuse to apply for suitable jobs
  • Worked exclusively for a religious institution

Requirements for Maintaining Unemployment Benefits

Once approved for benefits, individuals must file a weekly claim to continue receiving unemployment compensation payments. Claims may be submitted online at ArkNet or via telephone by dialing (501) 907-2590. Individuals who choose to file through the state's automated telephone system must set up a PIN, which serves as their legal signature.

While receiving payments, beneficiaries must also continue to seek suitable work, eventually expanding their search to include related fields and jobs that require a lesser skill set than they possess. Additionally, beneficiaries should immediately report any change in contact information or employment status. Anyone who fails to follow the state's unemployment guidelines may find their compensation payments discontinued.

How Do You Apply for Arkansas Unemployment Benefits

To apply for total or partial unemployment benefits, eligible Arkansas residents should complete an application, which is available online at EZARK or by visiting any Division of Workforce Services location. The paperwork takes about 30 minutes to complete, and applicants should be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Legal address
  • Telephone number
  • Social Security number
  • Name and address of their most recent employer
  • Banking information (for direct deposit)

Applicants who are not U.S. citizens should be prepared to provide their Alien Identification Number or other relevant identifying information. Union members may also be asked to provide the name and phone number of their labor union.  

What Happens After Filing a Claim

Once an individual submits an online application, they're sent to a confirmation page, which serves as proof of filing and may provide additional instructions. If supporting documentation is requested, it must be mailed or faxed to the applicant’s local DWS office within 10 days. In some circumstances, applicants may also be required to report to their DWS office.

Shortly after filing, applicants should receive a Notice of Monetary Determination by mail. This document details the worker’s employment history during the base period, including earned wages. Claimants should review it for accuracy and file a Request For Reconsideration at their local DWS office if they find any discrepancies.

Because each unemployment application is unique and some situations require investigation, decision times may vary. However, monetary eligibility is usually determined within 3 business days.

How Much Do You Get From Arkansas Unemployment?

Weekly payments typically equal 1/26 of the average quarterly wages a worker earned during their 12-month base period. However, all payments fall between the state's weekly $81 minimum and $451 maximum. Beneficiaries can opt to receive payment through direct deposit or a state-issued debit card, and payment options may be changed as desired. Unemployment recipients may also opt to have 10% of their weekly benefit amount withheld for federal income taxes.

All beneficiaries have a one-week waiting period before benefits begin. However, the claim filed for this period doesn't count toward any cumulative benefit limits. Subsequently, unemployment benefits pay out for up to 16 weeks. However, during periods of high unemployment, as defined by the state, workers may qualify for extended benefits.

What Happens if Unemployment Claims in Arkansas Are Denied?

If an applicant is denied unemployment benefits, they have the right to appeal. Initial appeals should be directed to the Arkansas Appeal Tribunal using the appropriate form. Requests typically must be received by the tribunal or a local DWS office within 20 days of the determination. However, a late appeals request may be approved if the untimely filing was due to circumstances beyond the applicant's control.

Once the request has been received, a hearing is scheduled. During the proceedings, which may take place in person or over the telephone, an assigned hearing officer examines the evidence and listens to testimony. This may include statements from the employee, employer and any witnesses called by either party. Failing to show up for a hearing may result in a forfeiture of benefits altogether. Appellants have the right to representation by a lawyer or union representative during the hearing. 

After reviewing the case, the hearing officer renders a new decision. This may include:

  • Upholding the original benefits decision
  • Reversing the original decision
  • Modifying the original decision
  • Sending the case back to the DWS for further review

Appellants receive notification regarding the outcome of the hearing by mail. If an initial appeal doesn’t satisfactorily resolve the matter, appeals may be escalated through the Arkansas Court of Appeals and, subsequently, the Board of Review. During the appeals process, the appellant should continue to file claims for benefits each week and follow other appropriate benefits guidelines, such as continuing to actively seek work.

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