If you lose your job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you were laid off or otherwise not at fault for the loss. Whether you receive unemployment benefits and how much you're entitled to each week depends on how much you earned during a base period, usually the last four or the last five quarters. When you apply for unemployment, the unemployment office sends you a monetary determination letter informing you of your potential benefits, if any, and the sources of income used to calculate those benefits.
Monetary Eligibility Letter Basics
A monetary determination letter informs you of the base period the unemployment office used to calculate your monetary eligibility for unemployment. If you qualify for unemployment based on your wages in the base period, the monetary determination letter also tells you how many weeks you're entitled to based on your wages, and what your weekly benefit amount will be. If you don't qualify, the letter informs you of the sources of income reported and why you're considered ineligible.
Not an Award Letter
Receiving a monetary determination letter doesn't necessarily mean that you qualify for unemployment. The letter tells you the benefit amount you're entitled to if you are eligible for unemployment. In certain cases, the unemployment office may still be investigating whether you're eligible on other grounds.
However, you should submit your claims form for each week starting with the effective date on your letter. That way, if the unemployment office does approve your unemployment, you're entitled to back pay and continue to be eligible for unemployment.
Request Alternate Base Period
If you don't qualify for unemployment on monetary grounds, your letter lists all the sources of employment income the unemployment office considered. If the information is correct but there are wages that aren't listed because they were outside the base period, you have 10 days from the date the letter was mailed to respond in writing and ask for the unemployment office to use the alternate base period.
Check for Missing Wages
Check your monetary determination letter to make sure that all your wages for the base period are listed. If any wages are missing, you may not be getting all the benefits you're entitled to; in certain cases, you may be disqualified from unemployment on monetary grounds.
If your monetary determination letter contains inaccurate information, request a hearing by visiting your state's website or by filling out the appropriate part of the letter and sending it back. Bring receipts or pay stubs to the hearing to prove that you earned the wages that you're claiming.
- Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development: What to Expect After You File
- Nolo: Unemployment Compensation: Understanding the Base Period
- New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions: Monetary Determination - Claimant
- Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development: Does Receiving a Monetary Determination Letter Mean I Will Receive Unemployment Insurance Benefits?
- New York State Department of Labor: Unemployment Insurance Request for Alternate Base Period
- New York State Department of Labor: The Hearing Process: Frequently Asked Questions