Oregon Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility
- Read about the eligibility criteria you need to meet to collect unemployment benefits in Oregon, and find out how the state calculates your benefit amount.
When you lose your job or your employer drastically reduces your hours, the Oregon unemployment program may be able to help. As long as you meet the criteria for participation, the State of Oregon Employment Department will disburse a weekly payment to replace part of your lost wages. The state audits each claim for accuracy, so it's important to understand the rules before you file.
Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Oregon?
Oregon assesses your eligibility for unemployment benefits using both non-monetary and monetary criteria.
To receive unemployment benefits from the Oregon Unemployment Department, you must:
- Have worked in Oregon at a company other than your own in the past 18 months
- Be unemployed for a reason that's not your fault
- Be physically and mentally able to work
- Be available for full-time work
- Be legally authorized to work in the United States
You may also be able to get unemployment if you were separated from the military in the last 18 months, as long as you're currently living in Oregon or looking for a job in the state.
Pay close attention to the availability requirement — by stating that you're available, it means there's nothing restricting you from working 40 hours per week. This includes, but is not limited to, travel, illness and family obligations.
Since the Oregon unemployment program is funded by employer taxes, the state requires you to meet certain wage requirements. The Employment Department looks at your income for the 18 months preceding the current quarter. They choose one of two 12-month periods to determine your base year.
There are two possible base years. The standard base year is the first four of the last five complete quarters. The alternate base year consists of the four most recently completed quarters. The state only considers the alternate base year if you don't meet the wage threshold for the standard period.
Unlike most states, Oregon offers two ways to fulfill the monetary requirements for unemployment. During the base year, you must have:
- Made at least $1,000 and have total wages that are at least 1.5 times your earnings from the highest quarter
- Worked at least 500 hours and earned income that was subject to employer unemployment insurance tax
While you collect unemployment benefits, you'll need to maintain your eligibility with the Employment Department. This is a two-part process.
File Weekly Claims
After your initial claim is complete, Oregon expects you to file another shorter claim each week. This is how you claim your benefits for the preceding week, and it's how the state calculates how much money you're eligible to receive for the next payment.
The weekly claim walks you through a series of questions about the status of your job search, any money that you earned and your availability for full-time employment. Be prepared to enter information about part-time hours and income, if applicable.
Look for a Job
The job search is a big part of being eligible for unemployment benefits. For every week you collect a payment, you must:
- Make two direct contacts with potential employers
- Complete three other work-seeking activities
Make sure to keep track of every contact and activity; include the name and contact information for the employer, the job you're targeting, a description of what you did and the result.
A direct contact involves getting in touch with an employer to:
- Inquire about any available job openings
- Apply for a job
Work-seeking activities may include:
- Additional direct contacts with employers
- Looking through job listings
- Updating and editing your resume
How Do You Apply for Oregon Unemployment Benefits?
The Oregon Employment Department offers two ways to apply for unemployment benefits: by phone at 877-345-3484 or online. No matter which option you choose, you should have a few items prepared:
- Personal information, including Social Security numbers
- Employment details from the past 18 months
- Income information
To apply, call the number above or use the following steps to file online:
- Visit the Online Claim System and click "Regular UI Initial Claim."
- Follow the prompts to complete the application.
- Verify your identity with me.
- Enter your bank account details to receive payments via direct deposit. If you don't, the state will send you a U.S. Bank ReliaCard debit card.
- Start filing weekly claims using the "Regular UI Weekly Claim" button in the Online Claim System.
- Register with WorkSource Oregon's iMatchSkills
The Employment Department selects some applicants for a mandatory welcome conversation with an employee from WorkSource Oregon. If you're selected, you'll get a letter in the mail; make sure to schedule the conversation before the provided deadline.
How Much Do You Get From Oregon Unemployment?
To figure out how much money you could receive each week, take 1.25% of your gross earnings in the base year. The minimum weekly benefit is $171, and the maximum is $733. You can calculate your benefits using the Oregon Unemployment Insurance Estimator.
Oregon allows you to receive unemployment benefits until the total amount you collect reaches 26 times your weekly benefit. If your benefit amount is $300, you can receive up to $7,800 in benefits for the benefit year (52 weeks from the filing date).
This doesn't mean you'll automatically get 26 weeks of unemployment benefits — if you receive less money some weeks, you could collect benefits for longer. Some things that can reduce the weekly payment include:
- Working and earning qualified wages
- Not being available for full-time work
- Being away from home for more than 3 days in a single week
- Tax withholding
- Court-mandated child support deductions
How Does Work Affect Unemployment Benefits?
You can work while receiving unemployment, as long as you:
- Bring in less than the weekly benefit amount
- Work less than 40 hours
- Actively search for a full-time job
- Report any earnings on your weekly claim
Your unemployment benefits won't be affected until your weekly income reaches 10 times the current minimum wage. After that amount, every additional dollar you earn is subtracted from your weekly benefit.
What Happens if Unemployment Claims in Oregon Are Denied?
When the Oregon Employment Department processes your initial claim, they'll mail you a Wage and Potential Benefit Report or a written administrative denial of benefits. You'll also get a written decision any time the state reduces your existing benefits.
If you don't agree with an administrative decision or the initial benefit determination, you're entitled to an appeals process. You must appeal by the deadline on the written document; usually, it's 20 days from the mailing date. To appeal, simply complete the Unemployment Insurance Benefits Request for Hearing form and send it to the fax number, email address or mailing address on the written decision. You can also submit it using the Employment Department contact form.
After receiving your form, the Office of Administrative Hearings will schedule a phone, video or in-person hearing. Be prepared to present evidence, witnesses or testimony to support your case. The administrative law judge will render a decision accordingly.