South Dakota Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • If you're fully or partially unemployed, you may be entitled to South Dakota unemployment benefits. This article explains unemployment benefits eligibility.

The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (DLR) administers the state's reemployment assistance benefits program. Employees don't fund the program through taxes or wages. Instead, the department uses employer taxes to provide temporary financial support to unemployed residents of South Dakota while they look for work.

Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in South Dakota?

South Dakota has several eligibility requirements for people applying for unemployment benefits. These include:

  • Total or partial unemployment
  • Reasons for job separation that aren't your fault
  • Minimum earnings during a base period (the period used to establish your monetary eligibility)
  • Availability and ability to work
  • Searching for reemployment
  • Willingness to accept any suitable job offer

The eligibility rules for South Dakota unemployment benefits are complex, and understanding how they work can make the application process more straightforward. Below, you can find detailed information on monetary and non-monetary eligibility.

Wage Requirements

Usually, the DLR calculates your monetary eligibility using your earnings over the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. This period is called the regular base period. People who were off work for an extended period due to a work-related injury may backdate their base period to end in the last completed calendar quarter before sustaining the injury. 

You'll meet the monetary eligibility requirements for South Dakota unemployment benefits if you earned a minimum of $728 in your highest-paid quarter. Your earnings over the remaining quarters must equal or exceed your weekly benefit amount (WBA) multiplied by 20, and you must have worked in the state at some point during the base period. 

South Dakota uses an alternative qualification process for seasonal workers. If you work for an employer that ceases operations for at least 5 months per year, you're a seasonal worker. Seasonal workers can only receive benefits during periods when they would usually work. 

Job Separation

You can claim unemployment benefits in South Dakota if you become totally unemployed or your employer cuts your hours. However, you cannot claim benefits if your reasons for job separation are your fault. 

For example, you may not be entitled to payments if you leave your job voluntarily or your employer terminates your contract due to poor performance or misconduct. However, the DLR may consider your claim if you can demonstrate that you had good reason to quit.

Weekly Requirements

You can lose your right to receive unemployment benefits in South Dakota if you don't meet the ongoing eligibility requirements. You must register with SDWORKS and actively seek reemployment unless:

  • You are a member of a union hall in good standing
  • You have a return-to-work date for full-time employment within 10 weeks
  • You have a return-to-work date with an employer that paid at least half of your base period wages, and you are a seasonal employee with no other suitable job prospects

You must establish two new work contacts for every week in which you receive unemployment benefits. Communications cannot be via telephone or through a family member. You should be prepared to accept any job offering fair wages for the role and industry. If you can't find work in your usual sector, you should take any job that you are capable of doing. The DLR may require you to submit more than two work contacts if you're unemployed for an extended period. 

Benefits recipients must be in a position to work throughout their claim. Therefore, you must be physically and mentally healthy enough to work and available for at least 3 days per week. You cannot place unreasonable expectations on the type of work you will consider, and you must be prepared to work the standard hours for your industry (including shift work).

Unavailability for work for personal reasons, such as lack of appropriate childcare, could affect your entitlement to benefits. However, you might retain your eligibility if you are unavailable due to attending a training or educational course. The DLR may issue you with Approved Training status if your course will improve your chances of achieving reemployment.

How Do You Apply for South Dakota Unemployment Benefits?

You can claim South Dakota unemployment benefits online through the DLR website. Create a new account to get started, or use an existing login if you're already registered for DLR services. Alternatively, you can claim over the phone at (605) 626-3179 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. (Central Time) on weekdays. Prepare the following information before filing:

  • Social Security or alien registration number
  • Driver's license or state ID
  • 18-month work record, including your employment dates
  • Union hall details (if you're a member)
  • Standard Form 8 and Standard Form 50 (federal workers)
  • DD214 (ex-military employees)

If the DLR approves your application, you should file for benefits every week for the previous week from midnight on a Sunday. You can file online using your DLR account or the Interactive Voice Response system at (605) 626-3212 at any time. Telephone users must set a PIN when they file their first claim, and it's essential to wait to hear that your claim has been recorded before ringing off. Filing late may result in a missed payment unless you have a compelling reason. 

How Much Do You Get From South Dakota Unemployment Benefits?

The DLR calculates your WBA by dividing your wages from your highest-paid quarter by 26. The maximum amount you can receive per week is $428, and the lowest amount is $28.

Certain payments can reduce your WBA dollar-for-dollar. These include:

  • Vacation pay
  • Sick pay
  • Termination or dismissal payments
  • Wages in lieu of notice
  • Retirement income during the base period

You can claim South Dakota unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, and it usually takes between 3 and 4 weeks to get your first payment. You can choose to receive your unemployment benefits via direct deposit into your personal checking or savings account. Otherwise, the DLR will send you a Way2Go debit card and load your payments onto it after you submit your weekly claim.

What Happens If Unemployment Claims in South Dakota Are Denied?

You can lodge an appeal if the DLR disqualifies you for unemployment benefits and you feel the decision is incorrect. You must appeal within 20 days of the determination date and include your Social Security number and grounds for requesting reconsideration. Submit your request in writing at:

RA Division
P.O. Box 4730
Aberdeen, SD 57402-4730

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