Oklahoma Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • The Oklahoma unemployment insurance program assists unemployed residents to re-enter the workforce. Learn how to apply for Oklahoma unemployment benefits.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) supports people who are unemployed through no fault of their own through the state's unemployment insurance program. It also offers individuals a range of re-employment services to help them re-enter the workforce. Claiming Oklahoma unemployment insurance can help you meet your living costs while searching for your next job.

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Oklahoma?

You can only claim unemployment benefits in Oklahoma in limited circumstances. The OESC will consider the circumstances of your unemployment and your previous income to decide whether you qualify.

Monetary Eligibility

The monetary eligibility criteria to qualify for unemployment benefits in Oklahoma are relatively straightforward. The OESC requires that all claimants must:

  • Have earned a minimum of $1,500 over the base period
  • Demonstrate total base period earnings equaling or exceeding 1.5 times their highest-paid quarter earnings

The base period is the period the OESC uses to determine whether you earned enough money through previous employment to claim unemployment benefits. It spans the first four of the final five completed quarters before you applied. 

The OESC only counts wages earned through covered employment, where a company makes tax contributions to Oklahoma's unemployment insurance (UI) provision. Therefore, you can't claim unemployment benefits if you're self-employed or a contract or gig worker. 

Reason for Unemployment

The OESC states that you can only claim Oklahoma unemployment benefits if you lose your job (or have your hours reduced) through no fault of your own. Generally, this means that you can claim if you were laid off or placed on reduced hours for reasons unrelated to your work performance, such as a lack of work. 

If your employer discharged or fired you, whether you can claim benefits depends on if your dismissal was due to misconduct. In this situation, the OESC will investigate why your employer dismissed you. Misconduct, such as poor attendance or violations of workplace policies, will result in disqualification. 

You may be entitled to benefits if you quit your job for a good reason. However, you can't claim if you leave for purely personal reasons. The OESC handbook provides several examples of reasonable grounds for quitting, including:

  • Working conditions that pose a danger to your health, safety or morals
  • Unfair treatment by your employer
  • Failure of your employer to pay you for hours worked

The OESC may approve your application if you quit for family reasons. These reasons must be compelling, such as leaving work to escape domestic abuse or care for a sick family member. However, you cannot claim if your reason for quitting prevents you from accepting a new job.

Ongoing Eligibility

You must be ready to work and search for work while claiming Oklahoma unemployment benefits. Registering on OKJobMatch is a condition of receiving payments. OKJobMatch is a re-employment service that matches jobseekers with suitable opportunities. You must follow up on any referrals made, and staff members will regularly review your work search activities. 

You must keep a log of everything you do to try to find a new job and provide details when you file your weekly claims. Benefits cannot be claimed for days when you were unavailable to work, regardless of the reason. You should inform the OESC promptly if you're unable to work and accept any suitable job offer you receive. 

Approved Training

Oklahoma operates an Approved Training program for people who wish to enroll in work-related training or education. Any course must be OESC-approved. You don't need to search for work if the department approves your training, providing that you maintain good attendance and performance. 

Not everyone is eligible for the Approved Training program. To qualify, your previous experience must be in an industry that is no longer in demand by employers. Furthermore, your training area must be for a high-demand sector. Participating in the Approved Training pathway won't increase or decrease your benefits entitlement.

How Do You Apply for Oklahoma Unemployment Benefits?

You must file your initial claim online through the Oklahoma Unemployment Insurance portal. You'll need to submit your Social Security number and information about your employment history to complete your application. Filling out the online form takes around an hour, and it's essential to complete the application in one sitting. 

Successful applicants should submit a weekly claim to get their benefits payments. You can file your claim online using your portal login or by telephone at (405) 525-1500. The system will ask you for information about your income and work search activities, including:

  • Whether you worked
  • How much pay you received, including holiday, vacation, bonus, or severance pay and retirement income
  • Whether you refused a job offer
  • Details of new work contacts

It's essential to answer all the questions in your weekly claim truthfully and accurately. Providing false information could affect your benefits entitlement and may constitute fraud.

How Much Do You Get From Oklahoma Unemployment?

If the OESC grants your claim for benefits, you will receive a weekly benefit amount (WBA.) Your WBA is your wages earned in the quarter when you received the highest pay, divided by 23. Your WBA cannot exceed $461, even if your calculation gives a higher amount. The lowest WBA you can receive is $16.

The longest you can receive unemployment benefits in Oklahoma is 26 weeks. If you're eligible, you'll receive a debit card from Conduent, the third party that manages the Oklahoma Electronic Payment Program. It will issue your weekly benefits payments to your debit card, although you can request direct deposits to your personal bank account by contacting Conduent after receiving your card. However, you can't request direct deposits to an account that hasn't received deposits within the last six months.

What Happens if Unemployment Claims in Oklahoma Are Denied?

All applicants will receive a notice of determination letter explaining if they're eligible for benefits and how the OESC made its decision. You can discuss your determination with a staff member at the Unemployment Service Center by phone at (405) 525-1500

If you think the commission's decision is wrong, you have the right to appeal within ten days of the mailing date on your notice of determination. Your letter will provide contact details for filing your appeal. You should include your:

  • Full name 
  • Social Security number
  • Daytime contact number
  • Date on your notice of determination
  • Basis in law for appeal (as cited on your determination)
  • Reasons for disputing the determination

You will then receive a notice of appeal with an appeal hearing appointment. You must attend your meeting and continue filing weekly claims in the meantime. Otherwise, the OESC may deny your appeal or delay your payments. 

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