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Claimant Handbook


ABP Alternate Base Period - A different period of wages to consider when calculating your monetary eligibility for benefits. A base period is four quarters (one year).

Administrative Penalty – Imposed when a claimant knowingly failed to disclose facts or provided incorrect information to obtain or increase benefits. Can disqualify you from receiving benefits for up to 52 weeks.

Appeal – A process for requesting a formal review to a UI decision. A claimant or employer can appeal a decision if they believe it is contrary to the law or facts or if they have new information that could affect the decision.  An appeal must be filed within 10 calendar days from the date of the Notice of Determination. See page 13 for details.

Base Period – The base period is the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters at the time an initial claim for benefits is filed.  Monetary eligibility is based upon how much was paid during this base period. 

Benefit Offset – An amount deducted from benefits to repay an amount owed due to previous overpayment of benefits.

Bi-weekly Claim –The request for payment for 2 weeks at a time via Internet, telephone, or by mail.

Benefit Week Ending (BWE) – Each benefit week begins on Sunday and ends at midnight the following Saturday.  The Saturday date is the week ending date.

Benefit Year Ending (BYE) – A benefit year lasts 52 weeks.  The Saturday date of the last week of a claim is the benefit year ending date.  When a benefit year ends, a new claim must be filed. 

Claimant Agreement –  Claimant certification that he/she is a citizen or national of the United States and acknowledgment of their obligations necessary to qualify for benefits and that information may be shared with interested third parties, state and federal agencies who have access to the information according to Section 1137(a)(6)of the Social Security Act.

Claim Effective Date – The Sunday date of the week in which a claim is filed.

Claim End Date – The last day of a claim year (see BYE).

Claims Processing Center – Where to call to open, reopen, or receive assistance with an Unemployment Insurance claim.  Staff in the center gather information from claimants and employers, issues eligibility decisions and provide customer service to claimants and employers.  Phone numbers are inside the front cover of this booklet.

Customary Hours - The average number of hours per week that you worked during the base period of your claim. Once your claim is filed, you may not be eligible for benefits during any week you work at that number of hours. It is very important that you estimate your hours correctly as this may be verified with your employer. If hours you provide are incorrect, it could cause an overpayment.

EFT Electronic Funds Transfer – The direct deposit of benefits into your bank account. The bank will usually post your deposit 1-2 days after they receive it.

Excess Hours - Reported hours of work equal to, or greater than, the customary hours of the worker. You will not be eligible for benefits in a week in which you work excess hours.

Excess Earnings - Reported earnings for a week that are twice the weekly benefit amount or more. A week with excess earnings is not payable for benefits.

Full-time Work – Working 40 hours or more per week.

Gross Misconduct – A criminal act, other than a violation of a motor vehicle traffic law, for which an individual has been convicted in a criminal court or to which the individual has admitted guilt.  It also includes conduct that demonstrates a flagrant and wanton disregard of the rights, title or interest of a fellow employee or the employer.  The penalty for a separation due to gross misconduct is 52 weeks of disqualification for benefits.

Initial Claim – A new claim filed establishing a new benefit year and a 1-year eligibility period.

Issue (or Eligibility Issue) – Any act or circumstance that may disqualify a person from receiving benefits.

Insufficient Wage Credits (IWC) – Term used to define a claim that does not have enough wages in the base period to be eligible.  Also referred to as “monetarily ineligible.”

Job Attached – The status of a claimant when an employer has verified a scheduled date of hire/rehire for at least 30 hours per week.  Or for claimants working part time, an employer verified a guarantee of returning to 40 hours of work per work. A claimant is not required to make a weekly work search while job attached, but must remain available for suitable work.

Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA) – The maximum amount of benefits potentially available during a benefit year based on the wages earned in the base period of a claim.  This information is located on the Monetary Determination form.

Misconduct – Deliberate or careless disregard of an employer’s or another employee’s rights or interests.  If it is shown the discharge was due to misconduct, benefits will be denied. 

Overpayment – A payment of benefits you are not entitled to under Montana rule and law.

Partial Benefits – The amount of unemployment insurance benefits you may receive while working, if your customary hours are reduced.

Personal Identification Number (PIN) - A 4-digit number selected for security purposes that, along with a Social Security Number, identifies the claimant to the  

RedeterminationA request for reconsideration of an initial decision regarding receipt of benefits.

Register for WorkIndividuals who are claiming benefits and are not job attached or union attached, as determined by our agency, are required to be actively registered at the Workforce Services Center in their area for assistance in finding employment. – The electronic equivalent of the Claims Processing Center where claims are filed, payments requested and Direct Deposit is authorized.  Other services are also available online at this site.

Union Attached – The status of an active union member who gets work through the union hiring hall and is on the out of work list as verified by the union. A union attached person is not required to seek work but must be available for any offer of suitable work.

Waiting Week – The first eligible week in a new claim.  This is not a paid week, but must be claimed in order to receive credit for it as the waiting week.

WIA-Approved Training - Workforce Investment Act pays for retraining of some unemployed workers. Administered by Workforce Services (Job Service), this program allows you to attend school and receive unemployment benefits while being retrained.

Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) – The maximum amount you may be eligible to receive for one week if you have no reported earnings that week. This amount is located on your Monetary Determination form.

Work Search – You are required to make at least one work search contact per week while claiming benefits.  You must keep a written record of the contact, (unless you are job attached or union attached).

Workforce Service Centers – The state agency where claimants are required to register for work, also known as Job Service. 

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