How To File For Rhode Island Unemployment

This page provides information on how to file for unemployment in Rhode Island. 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 Rhode Island Unemployment Department for assistance. It is important that you file your new claim right away because Rhode Island unemployment insurance are not retroactive.

Filing for Rhode Island unemployment

If you become unemployed you should file a claim within seven days of your last day of employment to avoid jeopardizing or delaying your first payment. There are two ways to file a claim for UI. You can file online at or you can file over the phone by calling 401-243-9100. If you're calling from out of state, the phone number is 866-557-0001. Monday is generally the busiest phone day of the week. If you call later in the week, your wait time may not be so long.

Information needed when applying for unemployment benefits

When you call to file an unemployment insurance claim you will need to provide your social security number and the full name, address and telephone number of all employers you have worked for in the last two years. If you are not a United States citizen, you must provide your alien registration number. A guide to help you prepare this information can be found here.

Rhode Island unemployment eligibility requirements

To qualify for UI benefits, you must meet certain wage requirements. While these requirements are explained to you in detail, please do not use this information to try to determine your own eligibility. If you are laid off they strongly urge you to apply for benefits. They will determine whether you qualify based on all the facts relating to your claim and notify you as quickly as possible. You must be unemployed through no fault of your own. You must be able to work, available for work and searching for full-time work. You must always be willing to accept a suitable job while you are claiming benefits.

Earnings requirements for UI benefits

To be eligible for UI benefits, you must have been paid at least $12,120 in either your base period or an alternate base period. If you did not earn this amount, you may be eligible if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You were paid at least $2,020 in one of your base period quarters and
  • You were paid total base period taxable wages of at least one and one-half times your highest single quarter earnings and
  • You were paid total base period taxable wages of at least $4,040
  • If you have had a previous claim, you must have worked again since filing that claim and must have been paid taxable wages of at least eighty times the R.I. minimum hourly wage of $10.10, or $808
Base Period

The base period is the period they look at to determine if you have been paid sufficient wages to be monetarily eligible. Normally, your base period consists of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the starting date of your new claim. The calendar quarters are:

  • January 1 through March 31
  • April 1 through June 30
  • July 1 through September 30
  • October 1 through December 31

If wages from one of these quarters had to be used to establish a previous claim using the alternate base period, that quarter's wages cannot be used again to compute your current claim.

Alternate Base Period

If you submit a new claim and you do not meet the minimum earnings requirements in the regular base period, they will re-compute your claim using an alternate base period. This period consists of the last four completed calendar quarters before the starting date of your claim. While you must still meet the same overall earnings requirements, the alternate base period will allow some of your more recent wages to be counted towards establishing your claim.

When does my claim begin?

Your claim will start with the Sunday of the week in which you first file your claim if you are totally unemployed or employed part-time and earn less than your benefit rate. If you earn more than your benefit rate, your claim will start with the Sunday of the following week. This begins your Benefit Year. The Benefit Year is a 52 week period. In instances when a subsequent claim would cause base periods to overlap, the benefit year is 53 weeks. Any additional claims (refiles) you submit during this period will have the same Benefit Year.

Rhode Island unemployment weekly claims

Once you have filed your claim, you must request/certify for a payment every week you are unemployed or under-employed and must meet the eligibility requirements. You will only be paid for the weeks in which you certify for your payments. This payment service is used by anyone receiving unemployment benefits and claiming benefits for the previous completed calendar week.

You must request/certify for benefits weekly while your claim is in pending status. If you are allowed benefits your payments will be released by a claims representative and transferred into the payment method you chose when you filed your claim. If you are denied benefits and plan to appeal the decision, you must continue to request/certify for benefits weekly or you may not be entitled to those benefits. You have two options to certify for your weekly unemployment benefits.

  • Certify online at teleserve.dlt.ri.gov or
  • Call the TeleServe automated payment system at 401-243-9600
How much will my unemployment benefits be?

Your weekly benefit rate will be equal to 3.85% of the average of the total wages in the two highest quarters of the base period, not to exceed the defined maximum amount. Effective 1/1/18, their minimum is $51 and maximum is $566.00, not including dependency allowance.

By law, the maximum weekly benefit rate will remain at $566 until that figure represents, equal to or less than 57.5 percent of the average weekly wage of all workers covered by the Employment Security Act. Moving forward from that point, the maximum weekly benefit will continue to be calculated at 57.5 percent. Your weekly benefit rate remains the same throughout your benefit year.

If you have dependent children under 18 years of age you may be entitled to a dependency allowance. Handicapped children over 18 may also qualify for the allowance. The dependency allowance is limited to 5 dependents and is equal to 5% of your weekly benefit rate for each dependent. There is a $15 minimum per dependent.

The dependency allowance established at the start of your benefit year remains the same even if the number of children should change during the year. (If 2 or more parties make claim for the same dependent for the same week, the person who has physical custody receives the allowance.)

How long can I collect unemployment?

The duration of your claim is equal to 33% of your total base period wages divided by your basic weekly benefit rate (not including dependent's allowance). The most you are allowed to collect is an amount equal to 26 full weeks. You may claim these weeks any time you are unemployed during your benefit year.

Filing an appeal

If you are denied benefits and disagree with the decision you may appeal the decision and must do so in writing within fifteen days of the mailing date of the decision. CAU decisions may be appealed online, by submitting a request in writing to the Central Adjudication Unit at PO Box 20067, Cranston, RI 02920-0941 or by FAX at 401-462-8318.

Once an appeal is filed, the case will be referred to a Referee at the Board of Review. Information on preparing your case and the procedure for a Referee hearing can be found on the Board of Review website. The Board is an impartial authority not under the direction of the Department of Labor and Training. If you are pending a decision from a Referee at the Board of Review, you may email questions to [email protected].