Federal Benefits - Kentucky Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Find out how Kentucky unemployment benefits and eligibility work, including how to submit your claim, how much you'll receive and whether you need to look for work.

The Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance administers unemployment insurance benefits in Kentucky. Financial support is available for individuals who find themselves unemployed or on reduced hours in circumstances that are not their fault. Benefits are paid biweekly and funded through employer tax contributions. Below, you can find out everything you need to know about Kentucky unemployment benefits and eligibility. 

How Do Kentucky Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility Work?

All Kentucky unemployment insurance claimants must prove that they meet certain earnings requirements and are unemployed or working reduced hours for reasons outside their control. Before you file a claim, you should gather the following supporting information:

  • Personal contact information and date of birth
  • 18-month work history, including each employer's name and contact details, start and end dates and reasons for employment termination
  • Your Social Security (U.S. nationals) or Alien Registration (non-U.S. nationals) number
  • SF8 or SF 50 form if you're a former federal government employee
  • DD214 Member 4 form if you worked for the U.S. military
  • Record of other states you've worked in if you have ever worked outside Kentucky

When you're ready to apply, you can submit a claim online through Kentucky's Electronic Workplace for Employment Services (KEWES) website. Alternatively, you can claim over the phone by calling 502-875-0442 on weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Your local career center can also help you submit your claim.

The Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance will then assess your case against the eligibility criteria to decide if you qualify. If successful, you will receive a letter outlining your payment amount and schedule. You will then need to request your payments online on the KEWES website. You can choose to receive your benefits via direct deposit or check, and the entire process should take around 15 days from your application date. 

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits in Kentucky?

To receive Kentucky unemployment benefits, you'll need to meet various monetary and non-monetary eligibility criteria. 

Monetary Eligibility Criteria

Kentucky calculates your eligibility based on your earnings during the base period. The base period covers the first four quarters of the five financial quarters preceding your claim. As a rule, you will need to have earned at least $1,500 during your base period to qualify. 

Non-Monetary Eligibility Criteria

Kentucky requires that you must be unemployed through no fault of your own to claim unemployment benefits. You may be eligible to receive partial payments if your hours have been reduced. 

You may be entitled to unemployment benefits if you quit your job for reasons attributable to your employer, such as workplace bullying or unsafe conditions. You may also qualify if you were dismissed and it was not due to misconduct on your part. Claims where an employee was dismissed due to a poor attendance record may be considered if the reasons for absence are deemed to be genuine. 

You must also make efforts to secure new employment and make yourself available to work at any time during your claim period. You may be asked to prove what you've been doing to seek employment, so it's a good idea to keep records of any jobs you've applied for or interviews you've attended. The state of Kentucky expects you to accept any suitable job that's offered to you. 

How Much Will I Receive in Kentucky Unemployment Benefits and for How Long?

Kentucky pays successful benefits claimants between $39 and $569 per week, and the exact amount awarded is calculated based on earnings during the base period. Your wages for the base period quarter when you earned the most will be divided by 26 and then rounded down to the nearest dollar to produce your weekly benefit rate. 

You will then receive benefits for 26 weeks or until you find a job. The total amount payable will be whichever is the lower of your weekly rate multiplied by 26 or a third of your total base period earnings. However, your total award will not be lower than your weekly rate multiplied by 15. 

What Can Disqualify You From Receiving Unemployment Benefits in Kentucky?

Your claim for Kentucky unemployment benefits may be denied if you don't meet the state's eligibility criteria. If you didn't earn enough during your base period, you wouldn't usually qualify for unemployment benefits apart from in exceptional circumstances. 

Your claim may also be denied if your employment termination or reduced hours resulted from your own actions. For example, you are unlikely to qualify if you quit your job without a compelling reason or were dismissed due to misconduct. 

Failing to engage in job-seeking activities can also cause you to lose eligibility while you're claiming benefits, even if your initial claim was successful. You will be expected to give regular updates on what you're doing to find a job, and you may need to provide proof.

Therefore, claimants should search for jobs regularly and apply for any vacancy within a reasonable distance that suits their skills and experience. You should also make efforts to improve your resume and learn new skills that could make you more attractive to employers. Engaging with Kentucky's Focus Career service can help you find suitable jobs and improve your applications. 

Fraudulently submitting false information in your benefits application can disqualify you from claiming assistance for up to 52 weeks. Misrepresenting your circumstances in your application can have serious consequences, including possible imprisonment. Fraudulent claimants will have to repay any money they received with interest and may also be liable to pay additional processing fees. 

If you believe that your benefits claim was wrongfully denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You should appeal in writing to the Appeals Branch or UI Commission within 15 days of the mailing date printed on your determination letter.