How To File For Iowa Unemployment

This page provides information on how to file for unemployment in Iowa. If you lost your job or your hours were reduced at no fault of your own, you may qualify to receive unemployment benefits in your state. Review the information below, if you still have questions or issues about these benefits, then we suggest to contact your local Iowa Unemployment Department for assistance. It is important that you file your new claim right away because Iowa unemployment insurance are not retroactive.

Iowa unemployment eligibility requirements

To be eligible for UI benefits the claimant must:

  • Be totally or partially unemployed
  • Have worked and earned a minimum amount of wages in work covered by UI in the last 15 to 18 months
  • Have lost his or her job through no fault of their own
  • Be able and available for work
  • Be actively seeking work (work search may be waived if certain criteria are met)
  • Be registered for work at your local IowaWORKS center or online (unless the work search requirement is waived)

Information need when applying for unemployment

The following information is needed when filing for UI benefits:

  • Social security number
  • Name, payroll address and telephone number of your last employer
  • Start and end dates of your last job
  • Whether or not you will receive vacation pay, severance, etc
  • Alien registration number (if not a US citizen or permanent refugee)
  • DD-214 (Member 4) if you served in the U.S. military during the last 18 months
  • Standard Form 8 (SF-8) if you worked for the federal government in the last 18 months
  • Name(s), date(s) of birth, and social security number(s) of any dependents that are claimed as exemptions on your federal income tax return
  • Spouses may be claimed as a dependent if their gross wages were $120 or less in the week prior to filing your claim
  • Self-employment does not count as gross wages for dependent purposes

Applying for Iowa unemployment benefits

You may file for UI benefits online (the fastest and most efficient way) or at a local IowaWORKS center.

After you apply for unemployment benefits

It takes several weeks to process your application and to start receiving unemployment benefits. File a weekly claim every week online while your claim is processing or you have an appeal pending. Be sure to file your weekly claims on time. Make your required work search contacts every week and record your work search. It is recommended you use the form on page 30 of the Unemployment Insurance Handbook to record your work search.

Report all work and earnings when submitting your weekly claim. Report your gross earnings before any deductions and taxes for the week you perform the work. Do not wait until you are paid to report your earnings. Read all communication you receive from Iowa Workforce Development. Be sure to keep your address current because you'll receive letters outlining what you need to do to maintain benefit eligibility.

Weekly Claims and Work Search Requirements

To file a weekly claim, log in to your account. You must file a weekly claim for any week that you want payment, even if your eligibility is being decided or you have an appeal pending. Answer all required questions on the weekly continued claim. If you need assistance with your claim, call UI Customer Service at 866-239-0843 between 8am and 4:30pm Monday through Friday.

When should I file my weekly claim?

The current week is the week that just ended on Saturday. Weekly claims must be filed 8am Sunday through 5:30pm Friday for the prior week only. This means individuals have six days to file the previous week's claim. Weekly claims can be filed online using a mobile device or computer. Have this information available when filing your weekly claim: Social Security Number, PIN, total amount of gross wages (before deductions) earned during the week, and total amount of gross holiday pay, gross vacation and severance, if received. Delay in filing your weekly claim could result in denial of benefits.

Unemployment benefits payment information

Your individual benefits are calculated by identifying the highest quarter earnings in your base period and by the number of dependents claimed (up to a maximum of four). You will receive a letter in the mail with your weekly benefit amount.

How long will my benefits last?

The benefit year is one year from the claim effective date. Benefits are paid until the Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA) is reached or the benefit year ends.

How will I receive my payments?

When you file a new claim application, you will be mailed a debit card. If you already have a debit card, you will continue to use that card until it expires.

When will I receive my debit card?

You can expect to receive the IWD Debit Card in approximately seven to 10 business days. The card does not expire for three years, so please do not destroy the card when your unemployment insurance ends as you will use this same card should you receive unemployment insurance in the future.

File an appeal

Use this form to file your appeal online. You can also complete a paper form and send it via mail. The appeal must be postmarked or received within 10 calendars days from the date on the decision. It is important to understand that appeals are a public record. This means the public, including the media, can access the headings, decisions, exhibits, transcripts and recordings without you being notified. Issued appeal decisions are posted online.

What should I do while my appeal is pending?

While your appeal is pending, continue to file for weekly benefits, complete any required work search contacts, and log these contacts. Failure to file your weekly continued claim may disqualify you from receiving benefits for those weeks during the appeal process.