Filing for unemployment and budgeting for expenses while unemployed can feel stressful and overwhelming. Unlike paychecks from an employer, unemployment does not pay you by the hour or indefinitely. The state of Oklahoma offers an unemployment benefits process that is relatively straightforward so that you can do a few simple calculations to have an idea of how much you will receive in your regular payments. This information can help you plan ahead to cover your expenses while you search for a new job.
Oklahoma Unemployment Eligibility
Not everyone who is out of a job qualifies for unemployment in the state of Oklahoma. Self-employed people are exempt from benefits, as the state relies on traditional employers' contributions to fund the program.
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Provided that you worked for a traditional employer as a payroll employee, you must also be out of work due to no fault of your own. This means that people who quit a job or were fired because of something they did are not eligible for unemployment. According to NOLO, you must also meet certain income requirements, as well as be actively conducting a job search.
Quarterly Earnings and Unemployment
In order to calculate your potential unemployment earnings in the state of Oklahoma, you must first know what your quarterly earnings were for the last four quarters in the base period. The base period is the current quarter, plus the four full quarters prior. Quarters are broken down by months, like this:
- January through March
- April through June
- July through September
- October through December
Gather your paystubs for each of these quarters and add them up. Your unemployment benefits will be based on the quarter with the highest earnings. Keep in mind that your earnings must equal a minimum of $1,500 in the entire base period in order to qualify for unemployment in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Unemployment Calculator
You can make use of an Oklahoma unemployment calculator on websites like FileUnemployment.org to avoid doing the math to estimate your own unemployment payments. The calculator prompts you to enter your earnings for each quarter in your base period and then calculates what your unemployment check amount is likely to be.
According to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, you can also estimate unemployment benefits on your own by dividing your highest-earning quarter in the base period by 23. For instance, if you earned $20,000 in the highest quarter, the calculation would look like this:
- $20,000/23 = $869.56
Keep in mind that this is only an estimate of your benefits and should match what an Oklahoma unemployment calculator shows. Your actual unemployment benefits amount will be calculated by the state of Oklahoma. Benefits are typically available for 26 weeks, but sometimes exceptions are made when overall unemployment numbers are unusually high.
Oklahoma Unemployment Appeals
If the state of Oklahoma denies your unemployment benefits request, there is an appeals process in place to help ensure fairness for all parties. You must file your appeal to the Appeal Tribunal, along with the following information:
- Social Security number
- Phone number
- Date of determination
- Applicable law
- Reason for appealing
Your determination letter will list the contact information needed to file this appeal. If the Appeal Tribunal denies your request, you have 10 days to file a second appeal to the Board of Review. Should you be denied again, you are also free to file a third appeal in court.
Special Circumstances and Unemployment
During times of exceptional circumstances, sometimes the federal government steps in to address unemployment and provide additional benefits, some of which could also be available to self-employed people. This is what occurred in 2020 and 2021, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the CARES Act, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance. These benefits are time-limited and not determined by the state of Oklahoma, but may be distributed through them.