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Montana Unemployment Benefits

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Whether referred to as unemployment insurance (UI) or unemployment compensation (UC), this public program provides workers with financial assistance while they are in between jobs. Once enrollees claim unemployment benefits in Montana, they are permitted to use these funds to cover the cost of living for themselves and their families. This interim program is funded through employers’ tax dollars, and the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) manages UC. Furthermore, UI requires petitioners to demonstrate weekly eligibility.

Claimants may wonder how to apply for unemployment online or what types of documentation they must submit to substantiate their claims. The following sections will expand upon the petition process, outlining how applicants may apply and where they can submit their materials. Furthermore, subsequent paragraphs will address how claimants may prepare for the unemployment insurance interview and how to appeal if they are denied benefits.

What is unemployment in Montana?

Montana unemployment insurance coverage is available to workers throughout the state who were faultless as to why they lost their jobs. The unemployment program operates on a rolling basis, and petitioners must apply as soon as their work obligations expire. This means that petitioners should not worry about there being a shortage of funds if they file an unemployment claim later in the year. Regardless of applicants’ particular situations, there are certain maximum limits in place to control how long enrollees may receive unemployment insurance benefits and how much. For example, acceptees may receive UI benefits for up to 28 weeks during a single calendar year. This seven-month cap is greater than the national average. Furthermore, enrollees may only receive weekly benefit amounts (WBAs) that do not exceed $510. While a UI claim stays active for one calendar year from when applicants file their petitions, candidates must remember that UC coverage is temporary. As a result, enrollees will be unable to receive benefits beyond the state’s seven-month maximum.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Montana?

Applicants may wonder who qualifies for unemployment in Montana before they prepare their petitions. The MT eligibility for unemployment requirements address a variety of topics, and claimants must be sure they meet all of the program’s prerequisites. Furthermore, candidates must be aware that unemployment insurance eligibility functions differently from that of other programs. Qualifications for unemployment in Montana are evaluated on a weekly basis, and petitioners must be sure they consistently meet the DLI’s expectations.

When evaluating applicants’ eligibility for UI, the DLI will require petitioners to submit comprehensive, detailed information. First, petitioners must explain why they are no longer employed. In general, the DLI requires that candidates be unemployed due to circumstances that were outside of their control. Examples of possible explanations include:

  • Applicants are working reduced hours Petitioners do not need to be completely unemployed in order to receive UC. Employees whose hours were greatly reduced and who did not request these schedule changes may have a UI claim.
  • Petitioners are fired or discharged – Candidates who are fired or otherwise let go from their previous places of employment may be eligible to receive UI benefits. However, applicants who lose their jobs because of deliberate misconduct or rule-breaking may not receive UC.
  • Claimants quit – In limited cases, applicants who quit their jobs may be eligible to receive UI. However, these petitions are less likely to succeed, because candidates must be able to prove they quit their jobs for good reasons. Examples of situations that would exclude applicants from receiving UC include quitting because of a conflicting school schedule or not having adequate transportation to and from work.
  • Candidates are laid off – Applicants who are laid off from work due to work shortages are most likely to receive UI benefits. These individuals are without employment due to structural issues within their companies. As a result, they lost their jobs due to unfavorable circumstances they did not create.

Qualifications for UC also take into account applicants’ financial eligibility. In order to make this assessment, DLI must first determine petitioners’ base periods. The base period consists of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. This excludes the quarter when petitioners are applying, even if applicants submit at the end of a quarter. Additionally, eligibility for unemployment requires petitioners to have earned a minimum amount of income.

How can I sign up for unemployment in Montana?

When researching how to apply for unemployment online or in person, claimants will notice there are various details they are required to produce. This documentation is necessary because it helps the DLI be sure applicants are who they claim to be. Furthermore, the department uses these facts to help determine whether or not petitioners qualify for UI services. While candidates have various options for how they can apply for UC, submitting an online application for unemployment in Montana is oftentimes the quickest option. Regardless of how petitioners choose to apply for unemployment benefits, they will need to produce the following information:

  • Personal information – Applicants must include their Social Security Numbers, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Employment history – Candidates are required to report contact information for their recent employers. Specifically, applicants must record their employers’ names, addresses and phone numbers.
  • Direct deposit information – Petitioners who would like to receive their UC benefits via direct deposit must report the necessary information when they apply for UI. In particular, candidates must give the DLI their bank account and routing numbers.

Additional information

In addition, some candidates who file for an unemployment claim may need to submit additional information with their applications. Claimants who fit into the following categories must bring their corresponding documents:

  • Non-citizens must report their alien registration card numbers and expiration dates.
  • Former military members must show their Member-4 copy of the DD Form 214.
  • Federal employees need to submit either a SF-8 or SF-50.
  • Union members are required to submit the names and local numbers for their union halls.

How do I prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Montana?

At some point throughout their application process, petitioners may need to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview. This step is necessary when the DLI has specific questions regarding claimants’ applications before it may offer determinations on their cases. Oftentimes, petitioners must participate in an unemployment phone interview instead of conversing with DLI representatives in person.

The questions asked during the unemployment interview vary depending on why these additional assessments are necessary. In some cases, the DLI may even need to conduct an unemployment interview with an employer. These conversations are necessary when the DLI has lingering questions regarding why petitioners are unemployed. However, applicants must remember that these conversations will not take place at the same time as their own interviews. In fact, DLI representatives will compare the testimonies both parties provide in order to determine whether or not candidates qualify for UC.

What should candidates remember?

Most petitioners will wonder how to pass the unemployment insurance interview. However, candidates must remember that their main responsibility throughout this conversation is to be as honest and accurate as possible. Regardless, there are some steps claimants may take in order to prepare for the UI interview properly. Specifically, applicants should:

  • Be on time. The DLI will notify candidates of their UC interview times in advance. Participants must be ready at the designated hour.
  • Prepare materials in advance. Petitioners should have on hand any documents that support their arguments, such as email correspondence that relay facts. Specifically, claimants should prepare any documentation that relates to their employment termination. Examples could include exit interview notes or any emails they sent their supervisors or human resources departments that explained their terminations.
  • Give detailed responses. The DLI reserves the right to contact employers or former employees for subsequent interviews. As a result, both parties should answer the department’s questions as thoroughly as possible during the initial interview. This reduces the likeliness that additional conversations would be necessary, which would delay the claimants’ applications.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in Montana?

In order to claim unemployment benefits in Montana, petitioners must request weekly or biweekly benefits. However, enrollees must remember this process is different from the initial application process. Furthermore, this is one of several additional steps enrollees must complete each week in order to maintain their enrollment. When claiming benefits for unemployment, petitioners must be sure to answer questions relating to the following themes for each week they collect funds:

  • Work availability – Enrollees must certify that their schedules would have permitted them to maintain full-time jobs during the weeks they claim. Candidates will also need to outline any commitments they have that prevent them from working full-time, such as taking classes or other training courses.
  • Job offers – Candidates must disclose if they received any employment offers during the week they are claiming benefits. Furthermore, candidates who receive offers are obligated to explain if they accepted these positions and, if applicable, why they denied them.
  • Employment search – Each week program participants maintain an unemployment benefits claim, they are required to apply to at least one job. In addition, enrollees must submit all work search contacts they made during the weeks they are requesting benefits.

Beyond these requirements, candidates who claim UI benefits must also submit detailed information relating to their financial situations. Specifically, enrollees must disclose how much they worked during the week they are collecting benefits and how much income they earned. Petitioners must include their gross earnings, including any non-monetary funding they were paid. This includes room and board or other similar compensation.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment benefits in Montana?

Candidates who are denied unemployment in Montana are legally permitted to appeal the DLI’s decisions. Both petitioners and their employers have 10 days to appeal determinations they consider to be unfavorable. When submitting a denied unemployment benefits appeal, petitioners must provide reasons that substantiate their disagreements. Claimants appeal online. However, they will receive Notices of Redetermination in the mail once the DLI processes their requests. These notices are important because they explain when candidates’ phone hearings will take place.

During the unemployment denial appeal hearing, both parties have the opportunity to present their cases. This is an opportune moment for claimants to provide any supporting documentation they were unable to submit during their initial determination processes. In addition to submitting paper evidence during an interview, candidates and their employers may also request witnesses to testify for them. Furthermore, either party is entitled to have legal representation present during their hearings. However, this is not required. After the hearings conclude, the DLI will submit determinations to both parties. If either group is still dissatisfied, they may appeal this determination to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in Montana?  

Congress may authorize a federal unemployment extension during periods when many employees are without work. An unemployment benefits extension in Montana may be available only within the state or on a national basis. However, Congress decides this, as well. An unemployment extension is not commonly offered, so enrollees whose UC periods are about to expire should not rely on this program to extend their benefits. Regardless, when available, UI extensions allow beneficiaries to receive government funds beyond the state’s 28-week limit. When an MT unemployment compensation extension is available, candidates must contact the DLI to enroll.

How do I contact the Montana unemployment office?

A Montana unemployment office is located in various cities throughout the state. Petitioners and employers have the opportunity to contact the UC office either by calling on the phone or visiting in person. The Helena unemployment office, for example, is located at:

1327 Lockey Ave.

Helena, Montana 59601


Can I still receive unemployment benefits if I quit my job?

In general, unemployment benefits are awarded to individuals who are fired from their jobs through no fault of their own. However, there are certain circumstances where a person can quit and still qualify for unemployment benefits.

When should I file for unemployment in Montana?

As quickly as possible. If you are fired from your job through no fault of your own, it’s in your best interest to file for unemployment right away. The state does not take the date you were fired into consideration while processing your claim. The only date that relates to your benefit payments is the day you first file your claim.

Can I qualify for unemployment benefits if I quit my job?

Typically, unemployment insurance is given to individuals who are fired from their jobs through no fault of their own. However, there are certain circumstances where a person can quit their job and still qualify for unemployment benefits.

Montana Unemployment Office Locations