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This content was last updated on 2/13/2024

What is Unemployment Insurance?

Unemployment Insurance (UI), also called unemployment compensation, provides temporary income to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Your benefit amount is based on how much money you made during a specified period, as reported by your employer.  Employers are required to pay into the unemployment system.  Workers do not pay into the system and UI is never deducted from a worker’s paycheck. 

Requirements for Eligibility

To be eligible for UI benefits, you must:

  • Be unemployed or working less than full-time;
  • Have earned enough money to establish a valid claim;
  • Be unemployed through no fault of your own; and
  • Be able to work, be available for work and actively looking for work.
How long can I get benefits and how much will I get?

If you are eligible, you can get between 12 and 24 weeks of UI benefits during one benefit year. How many weeks you get UI  depends on the state average unemployment rate at the time  you file.

RECENT CHANGE:  Based on Kentucky’s current unemployment rate, if you file a new UI claim and qualify for benefits on or after January 1, 2023, you can only receive a maximum of 12 weeks of benefits.  This is part of the new UI law. If you are currently receiving UI, you should contact your regional Kentucky Career Center or call the Unemployment Call Center to if this change effect you.

Traditional UI benefits are paid every other week and the maximum benefit amount is $626 per week.

Who is eligible for UI benefits?

UI benefits are for individuals who are totally unemployed or who are working less than full-time while looking for full-time work.  To claim UI benefits in Kentucky, you must have earned wages in Kentucky during the last base period.  The wages from your base period will determine if your claim is valid and your weekly benefit amount.  If you have not worked in Kentucky in the last 18 months, you will need to apply in one of the states where you worked. You can not file for UI benefits in Kentucky if you have a valid claim in another state.

How do I know if I have earned enough to get benefits?

After your claim is filed, the UI system will automatically determine whether you have enough earnings in your base period to establish a valid claim. You will receive a document in the mail called a “Monetary Determination" a few days after you file an initial claim. The Monetary Determination will inform you whether your claim is monetarily valid and, if valid, the maximum benefit amount that you may receive per week. 

Besides earning enough to get benefits, what are the other requirements for UI?

Benefits are paid to workers who are unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own and must be attempting to return to the workforce.  You must be able to work and available for work each week in order to receive benefits.  You must also be making a reasonable effort to find new full-time work and provide details about your job search as required.

If I think I meet the eligibility requirements, how do I file a claim for UI benefits?

You should file your claim as soon as possible after becoming unemployed or after a significant reduction in your hours.

You can file your claim online here or through the automated phone system by calling 502-875-0442.   If you file through the online portal, you will need to enter a valid email address and then register to create an account.

After your initial claim is filed, you will receive notification that your claim was successfully filed and information about when you should request your first benefit payment.  The Office of Unemployment Insurance will then determine if you have a valid claim and mail you a Monetary Determination (a form that will tell you whether your claim in monetarily valid, and if it is, the maximum benefit amount that you may receive per week).  The Monetary Determination is not a guarantee that you will receive benefits but tells you how much you may receive if you are otherwise eligible.

What do I need to file my UI claim?

Personal Information

  • Social security number or alien registration number
  • Date of birth
  • Current mailing address
  • Valid phone number
  • Email address

Employer Information

You will need this information for all employers for the last 18 months, which may include multiple employers

  • Company name, or name of temporary agency
  • Company mailing address
  • Company phone number
  • Start date and end date for each place of employment
  • Reason that you are no longer working for that employer

Other information that you may need

  • Details about your retirement pension (if you are receiving one)
  • List of states in which you worked (if you have worked outside of Kentucky)
  • Name and address of the temporary agency (if you have worked for a temporary agency)
  • Agency name, company name, copy of your Standard Form SF8/SF50 (if you worked for the Federal Government)
  • Copy of your DD214 Member 4 (if you were in the military)
  • Name of contractor and union details (if you are a member of a trade union)
If my UI claim is approved, how do I request benefits?

After your initial claim has been filed, you are responsible for requesting your UI benefit payment.  Benefit payments are not automatic.  It is up to you to make the bi-weekly (every two weeks) request.  Failing to request your benefits in the required time frame will cause your payment to be delayed and possibly denied.  During your bi-weekly benefit request, you will be required to answer questions about your ability to work, your availability, any income that you have received during the period, and whether your job status has changed.  You must answer each of these questions truthfully.

You will request your UI benefits every two weeks.  You will request your first benefit payment thirteen (13) days from the day you filed your initial claim.  Kentucky UI weeks run from Sunday to Saturday.  When you are requesting benefits, you will be prompted to claim two weeks at a time.  You will be asked to answer questions about Week 1 first, and then answer questions for Week 2.  If you are eligible, you should receive payment within 2 – 3 days after requesting benefits.

Benefits for the previous two-week period can be requested Sunday through Friday.  The system is available on Sundays from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm and on weekdays from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.

To request your benefits, access the portal here.

How will I receive my benefits?

The Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance offers two safe and convenient payment method options.  You can choose to receive payment through direct deposit into your bank account or through a UI debit card.  You can change your preferred payment method by accessing your online claim and selecting “Payment Method”.  The default method is a UI debit card.

What are the weekly eligibility requirements for UI benefits?

1.  Waiting Week

In Kentucky, all initial claims must serve a ‘waiting week’, which means that benefits are not paid for the first week that you are eligible.  You must apply for benefits in order for the week to count as your waiting week.  Only one waiting week must be served per claim.  The waiting week DOES NOT count as one of your benefit weeks.

2.  Ability and Availability Requirements

To be eligible for benefits, you must be both physically and mentally able to work each week for which you are requesting benefits.  You must also be available for work and actively seeking full-time employment, which means you must look for work within your abilities and accept suitable employment if it is offered to you.

Here are some common reasons that you might not be eligible for benefits under this requirement:

  • You have a medical condition that prevents you from accepting work;
  • You are seeking Social Security Disability and have certified that you can’t work;
  • You do not have adequate transportation;
  • You do not have adequate child care or dependent care while you work;
  • You are not legally able to work in the United States;
  • You have limited hours of availability or locations where you’ll accept work;
  • You are enrolled in a school/training program that prevents full-time work;

3.  Work Search (RECENT CHANGE)

You are required to be actively looking for full-time work to receive benefits. As of January 1, 2023, you must have 5 work search activities each week.  Three of the 5 work search activities each week must be in person or online job applications or job interviews.  Two of the other 5 acceptable work search activities each week are job shadowing, where you follow a more experienced employee around at the job and learn how they work in their position; going to a job fair or networking event; or doing employment training or job search at a Kentucky Career Center.

RECENT CHANGE:  Will I have to give information about my work search every time I request benefits?

Yes, you must give information about your work search every time you request benefits.

If you submitted an application for a job, you will have to give

(1) the employer’s name, address, phone, email address, fax, website;

(2) the name and title of the person you dealt with;

(3) how you contacted the employer;

(4) the date you submitted your application; and

(5) what happened after you submitted the application.


If you are interviewed in person or online for a job, you will have to give

(1) the employer’s name;

(2) the date you interviewed and how you interviewed (in person or online);

(3) the name and title of the person that interviewed you;

(4) the position you interviewed for; and

(5) the employer’s phone and email address.


If you job shadowing, you will have to give

(1) the employer’s name;

(2) the name, title and address of the person you shadowed;

(3) the position you shadowed; and

(4) the dates you job shadowed.


If you go to a job fair or networking event, you will have to give

(1) the name, location and date of the event; and

(2) the company’s name and contact person.


If you go to a job search skills workshop or seminar, you will have to give

(1) the name, location and date of the event; and

(2) the name, email address and phone number of the workshop leader.


If you go an employment search program through a Kentucky Career Center or their partners, you will have to give

(1) the host and date of the program;

(2) name of the partner;

(3) how you participated (in person or online); and

(4) the name, email address and telephone number of the session leader.

Do I have to have written proof of my work search activities?

Yes, you have to have written proof of your work search activities.

To prove you submitted an application, you must get a copy of the application confirmation from the employer’s website, email, fax or text.

To prove you did an in person or online interview, you must get documentation of interview scheduling or a form letter signed by employer.

To prove you did job shadowing, you must get a form letter from the employer with the dates and hours you job shadowed.

To prove that you went to a job fair or networking event, you must get a business card from the employer at the job fair or a form letter signed by employer or the Kentucky Career staff.

To prove that you went to a job search skills workshop or seminar, you must get an email or certificate from the Kentucky Career Center staff or a form letter signed by the presenter or screenshots from the online session.

To prove that you went to an employment search program through a Kentucky Career Center or their partners, you must get confirmation of the registration or documentation of job referral email or form letter signed by program staff or screenshots from the online session.

RECENT CHANGE:  How long do I have to keep  work search activities documentation?

You must keep all the documentation for a year after you stop getting unemployment benefits.  It is very importation to follow this requirement.  If you don’t keep it and the unemployment office requests it, it may cause a problem for you.

RECENT CHANGE:  If an employer offers me a job, do I have to take it?

You must accept an offer of work if:

• You have received at least six (6) weeks of benefits during your present period of unemployment;

• The job pays at least 120% of your Weekly Benefit Amount;

• The job is located within 30 miles of your home or is a permanent remote job; and

• You are qualified to do the job, even if you have no related experience of training.

When I file for unemployment benefits will my former employer be notified that I filed?

Yes. Once you file your claim for benefits, your former employer will be notified that you applied by the Office of Unemployment Insurance. They will be allowed to explain why they you are no longer working for them.

What happens after my former employer replies?

The Office of Unemployment Insurance will make a decision if you are eligible to receive benefits and mail both you and your former employer a written copy of their decision.  The decision is called the Notice of Determination.

Should I request my benefits if I have not gotten a Notice of Determination within 12 days after I applied?

Yes.  You should request your first benefit payment 13 days after the date you applied. You should continue to request bi-weekly benefit payments while your claim is under review. Even while you are waiting for the Notice of Determination, you will have to do the work search activities and include that information.

What happens if my claim is denied?

You will receive the written Notice of Determination.  It will explain why your claim for benefits was denied.

What are some reasons my claim for benefits could be denied?

Some common reasons your claim could be denied could relate to why you were separated from [left] your jobs.  These include:

  • You were discharged for misconduct or dishonesty;
  • You were suspended for misconduct or dishonesty; 
  • You abandoned your job;
  • You quit the job for personal reasons;
  • You quit your job without good cause or did not pursue alternatives before quitting;
  • You failed to maintain contact with the employer during a period of leave;
  • You did not provide correct information and did not amend when requested; or
  • A strike is in active progress at the location where you work.
If I disagree with the denial of my benefits, can I appeal?

Yes.  You can file an appeal to UI Appeals Branch in writing within 30 days of the mail date of your Notice of Determination.  When you write out your appeal, you must include your name, the last four digits of your Social Security Number and your contact information.

To send your UI Appeal by mail, use this address:

UI Appeals Branch, 500 Mero Street, 4th Floor

Frankfort, KY 40601.

Take the appeal letter to a US Post Office and have them stamp on the envelop the date the appeal was mailed. Do not use a private postage meter.

Your Appeal can also be sent by email to or by fax to 502-564-7850.  An acknowledgement of receipt of the appeal will be mailed to interested parties along with additional information.

While your claim is on appeal, you should continue to request benefits and do the required work search activities.

What happens after the appeal is filed?

The Office of Unemployment Insurance, Appeals Branch, will schedule a Referee Hearing.  You and your former employer will be notified of the hearing date and time.  The hearing is usually done online.

If you have a hearing scheduled, you should contact the Legal Aid office in your area to see if they can represent you.

While you are waiting for your hearing, you should continue to request benefits and do the required work search activities.

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