BATON ROUGE, La. (WDSU) — There has been an influx of calls regarding troubles with unemployment benefits in Louisiana.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding unemployment in Louisiana.
Answers to each question are from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
How do I contact the Louisiana Workforce Commission?
If you have filed a claim and still need to speak to a representative, you will need to reach the Call Center at 1-866-783-5567.
How does the Louisiana Workforce Commission contact me after I file for unemployment?
All calls from the Louisiana Workforce Commission come from No Caller ID calls. If you have filed for unemployment and get a call from a No Caller ID call you should answer it. You can also check the status of your claim by logging onto louisianaworks.net/HiRE and from your dashboard, selecting Unemployment Services, then Claim Summary.
How do I file for unemployment?
To file for unemployment in Louisiana, click here and follow the instructions.
How do I file for weekly benefits?
If you already have an active unemployment claim, and wish to file for weekly benefits, sign in, and select Weekly Claim Certification from the Unemployment Services menu. To do this, click here.
How do I start or reopen a claim?
To start or reopen a claim, follow the instructions listed here on your HiRe account.
What is expected of me after filing a claim?
You are expected to file your Weekly Certification each week to let the Louisiana Workforce Commission know if you remain unemployed so that you can receive weekly benefits. If you do not complete your Weekly Certification you will not be paid for that week. (Weekly filing starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday for each week)
How do I use my HiRE account?
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has created a video tutorial on how to use your HiRe account. Click here for the tutorial.
I filed an application for regular unemployment and need to talk to someone but can’t get through. What do I do?
If you have filed a claim and still need to speak to a representative, you will need to reach the Call Center at 1-866-783-5567. The Louisiana Workforce Commission said they understand that the Call Center is hard to reach but to please keep trying. LWC says, “DO NOT SELECT file an unemployment claim. These calls are being handled by additional Call Centers that are trained to take new claims only. They CANNOT answer your questions.” You can also check the status of your claim by logging onto louisianaworks.net/HiRE and from your dashboard, selecting Unemployment Services, then Claim Summary.
I provided all necessary documentation in my HiRe account but my benefits are still on hold or delayed. What do I do?
The Louisiana Workforce said it is aware of delayed benefits and long wait times with the call centers. According to the LWC, they have hired 300 news call center workers who are addressing cases as fast as they can. Anyone with questions on their claims are asked to contact LWC through their online HiRe account.
Am I required to search for work during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It is required for state and federal benefits to continue work search in order to receive your benefits.
My employer is currently closed, and I don’t have an exact return to work date, but I am going back to work for my employer. Why am I required to register on HiRE?
Registration is a requirement of Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and must be completed in order to maintain eligibility for benefits. You are considered to be temporarily laid off, according to LWC.
Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes an employer to shut down operations?
Louisiana unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria, according to LWC.
I’m self-employed. Can I receive unemployment benefits?
The following explanation was provided by the LWC website:
Not regular (state) unemployment benefits. However, you may be eligible under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
When you file your claim application, a determination of monetary eligibility (did you earn enough wages during a specified period of time) will be issued for a Regular (State) Unemployment claim. If you are not eligible for a Regular Unemployment claim, we WILL make a determination for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. All you have to do is continue to file for your weekly benefits currently. We will ask additional questions once the program is fully implemented. This is expected the week of April 13, 2020.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will pay a minimum of $107 and a maximum of $247 depending on wage verifications.
The following are conditions that will be considered for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance if you are not eligible for a Regular Unemployment Insurance claim.
This emergency benefit provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state UC law, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons. These include those people not otherwise eligible for regular unemployment, including the self-employed and those who have exhausted their regular and extended benefits.
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
- A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- You are providing care for a family member or a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- You have a child or other person in the household for which you have primary caregiving responsibility who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for you to work;
- You are unable to reach your place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- You are unable to reach the place of employment because you have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- You were scheduled to commence employment and do not have a job or are unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- You have become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
- You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
- Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Note from LWC: PUA is also generally not payable to individuals who have the ability to telework with pay or who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits. However, individuals receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits for less than their customary workweek may still be eligible for PUA.
My hours have been reduced, am I still eligible to apply for UI benefits even though I still have a job?
Individuals who are facing a reduction in hours and/or being mandated to stay home by their employer, a healthcare professional or the government could also be eligible. Individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria. You will be required to report your weekly gross wages to determine eligibility each week you submit your weekly certification. If your gross wages are more than your weekly benefit amount, you will not be eligible for benefits.
What happens if the school I work at shuts down for coronavirus? Will I be eligible?
If this closure is not during a customary break period or extends longer than the customary break period, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria, according to the LWC.
If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, can the benefits be charged to my UI tax account?
No. The LWC says they understand your concerns about future UI cost. Employers are usually responsible for the cost of unemployment benefits paid to their workers. Given the unprecedented situation with COVID-19, the Governor’s Proclamation relieved employers of benefit charges associated with COVID-19. This means that any benefits your workers collect as a result of the pandemic will not be charged to your UI tax account.
How do I report unemployment fraud?
You can help stop unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation fraud in Louisiana. Click here for an online system to report suspected fraud or call 1-800-201-3362 and a representative will assist you.
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