Georgia Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility
- Learn who's entitled to Georgia unemployment benefits, the minimum and maximum weekly benefit amounts and how to make an initial application online or in person.
The Georgia Department of Labor manages the state's unemployment insurance program. Employers fund the program through tax contributions, providing eligible Georgia residents with financial assistance if they find themselves out of work.
Not every unemployed person is entitled to Georgia unemployment benefits. Your previous earnings, reasons for termination and availability to work determine your eligibility.
Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Georgia?
You must meet various monetary and non-monetary eligibility criteria to qualify for unemployment benefits in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Labor considers your previous earnings and reasons for unemployment to determine if you're eligible.
Base Period Earnings
The department calculates monetary eligibility based on your earnings over the base period, usually the first four of the last five quarters, before applying for benefits. If you don't meet the earnings criteria using the regular base period, you can use an alternative base period. This period is the four quarters before you file your claim.
You cannot opt to use the alternative base period to calculate your benefits entitlement if you qualify through the regular route, even if your entitlement would be higher.
To qualify, you must prove earnings in at least two base period quarters with combined earnings of at least $1,134 in the two quarters when you received the most pay. Your total base period pay must equal at least 1.5 times what you earned in your highest-paid quarter.
The state only includes wages paid by an insured employer when calculating your unemployment benefits eligibility. This means that your employer made tax contributions toward the state's unemployment insurance program.
You can only receive unemployment benefits in Georgia if you lose your job under certain circumstances. You'll usually be eligible if you're unemployed due to a lack of work because your employer closed the business or laid off staff. Generally, you can't claim benefits if your employer fired you due to misconduct or poor performance.
You might be eligible for unemployment benefits if you quit your job for work-related reasons, such as nonpayment or an unacceptable change to your working conditions. You can't usually claim if you leave your position voluntarily for personal reasons. A Department of Labor staff member may interview you and your employer over the phone to determine whether you meet the job separation eligibility criteria.
Job Search Requirements
If your application is successful, you must remain ready and able to work to keep receiving benefits. Therefore, you should be fit for work and make childcare and transport arrangements so that you can immediately accept any suitable job offered to you. Refusing to take a position or referral without a compelling reason could affect your benefits entitlement.
The Department of Labor expects benefits recipients to make every effort to find a full-time job throughout their claim period. You will need to provide proof of three new employment search contacts each week when you submit your weekly claim.
All eligible claimants must register for work with Employ Georgia and upload an up-to-date resume. You must add your Social Security number to your account and select the "searchable by employers" option so that potential employers can find you.
How Do You Apply for Georgia Unemployment Benefits?
You can apply for unemployment benefits at your nearest Georgia Department of Labor career center or over the internet via the online portal. You can only claim online if you earned wages in the state over the last 2 years, and you may need to print out documents. Georgia residents with earnings from other states should apply in person. You'll need to supply the following information and documentation:
- State photo identification
- Employer Separation Notice
- DD-214 Member 4 or W-2 form (ex-military personnel)
- Standard Form 50, Standard Form 8, or W-2 form (ex-federal employees)
- Employment Authorization Document (non-citizens)
You will need to certify that you are over 18 years old and legally entitled to live and work in the United States, and you may be required to complete an Applicant Status Affidavit.
Successful applicants must file a weekly claim to receive benefits payments. You can complete your claim online, at your local career center or using the department's Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone system.
How Much Do You Get From Georgia Unemployment?
The Georgia Department of Labor calculates your weekly benefits payment using your base period pay.
If you qualified through the regular base period, your weekly payment will be the total wages earned in your two highest-paid quarters divided by 42. If you qualified through the alternative base period, your highest quarter earnings will be divided by 21.
The minimum weekly benefit amount is $55, and the maximum is $365, even if your benefit calculation is higher. The number of weeks you can claim benefits depends on the state's unemployment rate on your application date and ranges from 14 to 20 weeks.
You can choose to receive your weekly payments by direct deposit into your bank account or via a Georgia UI Way2Go Debit Mastercard. You'll receive a debit card automatically if you don't select direct deposit. The Department of Labor does not issue benefits payments via check.
What Happens If Unemployment Claims in Georgia Are Denied?
You'll receive a written determination by mail explaining whether you're eligible for unemployment benefits in Georgia. If you're denied benefits and think the decision is wrong, you have the right to submit an appeal within 15 days of the determination mailing date.
You can complete an online appeal application through the Georgia Department of Labor website. Alternatively, you can appeal by letter, email or fax at:
Georgia Department of Labor
UI Appeals Tribunal
148 Andrew Young International Blvd. NE
Atlanta, GA 30303-1734
Fax: 404.232.3901 or 404.232.3902
Include your full name and Social Security number if you submit your appeal by mail or your full name and the last four digits of your Social Security number for fax or email appeals. Also, provide the date on your determination letter, your address and the phone number you prefer to be contacted on. You should include a detailed reason for your appeal.
Don't stop filing your weekly claims and supplying proof of your job search activities while waiting for your appeal decision. Keeping up to date with your claims will allow you to receive backdated payments if the tribunal approves your appeal.