West Virginia Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Find out if you're eligible to collect unemployment benefits in West Virginia; discover the application process, benefit amounts and job-search requirements.

West Virginia's unemployment program is a safety net for workers. If you lose your job unexpectedly, it can help you stay afloat financially. When you make a successful claim to WorkForce West Virginia, the agency that runs the unemployment system, the state sends cash each week.

Unemployment benefits don't depend on financial need. Instead, the amount you receive is tied to your income. To qualify, you must meet the state's eligibility criteria and ongoing certification requirements.

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Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in West Virginia?

You don't need to be a resident of West Virginia to claim unemployment benefits. However, you must have earned money in the state in the last 12-18 months while working for a participating employer — one who's required to pay unemployment insurance tax.

The reason you're out of work is also important; the state requires you to be unemployed through no fault of your own. This usually means that you were laid off or finished a seasonal job, but quitting or being fired can also qualify under certain circumstances. 

When you apply, and each week you collect benefits, you must be willing and able to accept a full-time job. This means that there's nothing stopping you from working, including transportation or childcare.

Not sure if you meet the basic eligibility criteria? Make a claim anyway; the state will make a determination for you.

Income Eligibility Requirements

In addition to the basic criteria above, West Virginia requires you to meet a minimum income threshold. During your base period, you must have worked during two calendar-year quarters and earned at least $2,200.

There are two base periods:

  • Regular: First four quarters of the last five complete quarters
  • Alternative: Last four complete quarters

For example, if you apply for unemployment in May 2022, WorkForce would find the last five complete quarters: 

  • January-March 2022 (Quarter 1)
  • October-December 2021 (Quarter 4)
  • July-September 2021 (Quarter 3)
  • April-June 2021 (Quarter 2)
  • January-March 2021 (Quarter 1)

Then, it would look at your income during the standard base period: January 1 to December 31 of 2021. As long as you made more than $2,200, you would meet the income requirement. If you didn't, the state will automatically try the alternative base period: April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.

Staying Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in West Virginia

Getting approved for unemployment benefits is the first step. To continue receiving money each week, you'll need to do two things: file a weekly claim certification and actively search for work.

The claim certification is simply a series of questions that lets West Virginia know that you're still eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Expect to give information about your ability to work, any income you earn and your job-search activities for the previous week. You can file the claim online in your WorkForce account or by calling 1-800-379-1032.

While you're collecting unemployment benefits, WorkForce requires you to look for a new job and log all your contacts. This requirement is waived if you're participating in an approved training program. 

Acceptable job-search actions include:

  • Contacting employers by phone and following up with an application
  • Reaching out to employers through a want ad, online search or job fair
  • Submitting applications or resumes by email, mail or online

Unlike many states, West Virginia doesn't specify how many contacts you need to make each week. Instead, WorkForce advises you to do what a "reasonably prudent" person in a similar profession would do based on the current labor market. Record the date, employer information and type of contact for each action; the state has the right to audit your log to ensure that you're making a good-faith effort to find work.

How Do You Apply for West Virginia Unemployment Benefits?

When you're ready to apply, make sure you have detailed employment information on hand. You'll need the dates, employer names, contact information and income details for the last 18 months. 

  • File a new claim: Use the WorkForce West Virginia
  • Register for work: If you live in West Virginia, visit the nearest Job Service/WorkForce West Virginia Center; otherwise, you can register with an American Job Center. You must do so before your sixth weekly claim.
  • Choose a payment method: Within 2-4 days of filing your claim, decide how you want to receive unemployment benefits. In your WorkForce account, select direct deposit into your bank account or request a state-issued debit card.
  • Start filing weekly claims: Follow the WorkForce instructions to file claims every week, even if you're not yet receiving money.

Typically, you'll start receiving benefit payments about 2 weeks after you file your first weekly claim certification.

How Much Do You Get From West Virginia Unemployment?

If your unemployment claim is accepted by WorkForce, you will receive between $24 and $424 per week. This number is called your "weekly benefit amount." The state uses a standard scale based on your total income during the base period. You can find out how much you're eligible for in the West Virginia benefit rate table.

You can receive unemployment until you exhaust your maximum benefit amount, which is 26 times your weekly benefit. This number is also listed in the benefit rate table.

The number of weeks you can collect unemployment benefits depends on how much you claim each week. Weekly payments may be affected by factors such as:

  • Part-time income
  • Child support deductions
  • Tax withholding

Think of your maximum benefit amount like a bank account that's good for 52 weeks. Once you reach a zero balance, you need to wait until the next benefit year starts. If you don't claim all the money, the leftover amount does not roll over to the next year.

What Happens If Unemployment Claims in West Virginia Are Denied?

After you file an unemployment claim, the state will send out a monetary determination that tells you if you're eligible and how much you'll receive. If you don't agree with the decision, you have the right to an appeal.

When your base-period wages don't seem correct, you can request a redetermination from your local WorkForce office. An official will re-examine your income information to see if any errors were made.

If you're denied benefits, you have 8 days to file an appeal with the nearest WorkForce office. A phone or in-person hearing will be scheduled; at that point, you'll have the opportunity to present your case to an administrative law judge. This hearing doesn't require representation because the judge is always willing to help or answer questions.

The judge will mail you a decision. You have 8 days to appeal this decision to the West Virginia Board of Review, if necessary. All board hearings are held in Charleston; the staff will send you information about the time and date.

What happens if you don't agree with the Board of Review's decision? Within 30 days, you will need to file an appeal to the Circuit Court of Kanawha County. This is the final appeal opportunity.

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