The Rhode Island Unemployment Benefits

The Rhode Island unemployment program connects qualified petitioners with financial support after they become unemployed. Unemployment Insurance(UI), which is also referred to as unemployment compensation (UC), is specifically available to workers who lost their jobs due to circumstances they could not control. While only offered as interim relief to joblessness, UC funds can help provide applicants and their families with critical support during this occupational changeover.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) is responsible for managing all unemployment insurance benefits claims that are filed within the state. This department is also in charge of assessing claimants’ applications and determining if candidates meet the pre-established eligibility for unemployment requirements. The details below explain the different ways petitioners can file for unemployment in RI, as well as how they may prepare for their interviews with the DLT. Additional subsections outline the UI application process and how petitioners can appeal the state’s decisions if their applications are denied.

What is unemployment in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island unemployment insurance coverage is available to local workers who meet the state’s circumstantial and financial prerequisites. Enrollees must also be sure to recertify their claims each week they collect benefits. This process is intended to help the DLT ensure that only the most eligible candidates are receiving UC each week.

Since RI unemployment insurance is only intended to serve as a temporary solution to jobless applicants, the state imposes a maximum on the amount of time enrollees may receive benefits. In one benefit year, which consists of 52 weeks, program beneficiaries are eligible to collect UI benefits for 26 weeks. Unless a federal unemployment extension is available, there is no way for enrollees to receive benefits beyond this maximum.

To regulate the state’s unemployment program, the DLT also imposes a maximum on the amount of compensation enrollees may receive every seven days. This is referred to as the weekly benefit amount (WBA). The maximum WBA enrollees may receive in RI is $576. However, the weekly unemployment insurance benefits that applicants with dependents may receive is $720. This higher number is available to program participants who have a maximum of five dependents who are supported by their guardians’ UC claims.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Rhode Island?

There are financial and non-monetary eligibility for unemployment requirements that candidates must meet to receive benefits. To assess financial eligibility, the DLT considers how much income petitioners earned during their base periods. For UI calculation purposes, the base period refers to the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters that preceded when petitioners applied for benefits.

First, unemployment insurance eligibility in Rhode Island requires that applicants earned at least $12,120 throughout the 12 months that make up their base periods. However, if petitioners do not qualify under this prerequisite, they may qualify by meeting a selection of three financial requirements. In particular, candidates must have earned:

  • At least $2,020 in a single base period quarter.
  • At least $4,040 during the total base period.
  • Total base period wages that equal at least 1.5 times their highest quarter’s earnings.

Qualifications for unemployment in RI also take into account various personal criteria when assessing UI candidacy.

To qualify for UC, petitioners must be:

  • Unemployed through no fault of their own: Applicants must have lost their jobs due to conditions they could not control. In many cases, this means petitioners were either laid off due to work shortages or they were let go because their places of employment closed. However, there are some instances where petitioners who quit or were fired may qualify for UC. It is less common that the DLT will accept these claims, though, because these applicants must prove it was not their fault they lost their jobs.
  • Able and willing to work: To receive UI benefits, candidates must be physically able to work. Furthermore, these applicants must also prove they have schedules that permit them to work full-time jobs. Therefore, claimants must have full work availability and must be ready to start new employment at a moment’s notice.
  • Not refusing work offers: UC enrollees must accept suitable work offers that are extended to them. Likewise, candidates who reject job offers for non-legitimate reasons are unlikely to qualify for UI benefits.

How can I sign up for unemployment in Rhode Island?

Petitioners must learn either how to apply for unemployment online in Rhode Island or how to complete the application process by phone. Regardless of the method candidates choose to submit their materials, petitioners must include the following information in their applications:

  • Social Security Numbers: Applicants who complete an online application for unemployment or who apply by phone must submit their Social Security Numbers to prove their identity when filing their UC materials.
  • Employment history: Petitioners must provide their employment history for the past 24 months. In particular, candidates are required to include their employers’ names, addresses and phone numbers.
  • Citizenship information: Foreign-born claimants who file for an unemployment claim need to provide documentation that relates to their citizenship status and legal ability to work in the United States.

How do I prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Rhode Island?

Petitioners must begin to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Rhode Island after they submit their applications to the department. These conversations are a standard part of the UI application process. As a result, candidates must not assume needing to participate in one of these meetings means their claims will be denied. The purpose of the unemployment phone interview is for DLT representatives to gain a better understanding of petitioners’ eligibility for UC before decisions are made regarding their applications.

The specific questions asked during the unemployment insurance interview are determined by the DLT’s Central Adjudication Unit. However, claimants should have an idea of the types of questions they might be asked based on the information provided in their adjudication appointment letters. These documents outline specific topics the DLT representatives will discuss during their interviews.

To prepare for the UI interview, candidates must complete fact finding questionnaires. Both employees and supervisors participating in the unemployment interview with employer portions of the process must fill out these documents. These questionnaires must be completed online, mailed or faxed to the DLT. However, there are different forms petitioners may be required to fill out and these documents address different aspects. Applicants must be sure to use the forms that most closely relate to the reasons for their interviews.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in Rhode Island?

Enrollees who would like to claim unemployment benefits in Rhode Island must be sure they continue to meet the state’s weekly eligibility requirements. In particular, candidates are obligated to certify their claims each week they collect benefits. Recipients have the option of completing this step over the phone or online. Regardless of the method they choose, candidates are required to recertify their claims consistently. Enrollees who neglect their unemployment benefits claim are unable to receive funds for the weeks during which they do not properly file their documents.

When claiming benefits for unemployment, petitioners must first be sure to report their work search efforts. Since UC funds only serve as temporary aid to candidates who are unemployed, it is imperative that beneficiaries are actively pursuing alternative employment venues. To keep enrollees on track to meet their reemployment goals, the DLT requires that enrollees apply to at least three full-time jobs each week they receive UC funds.

Before program participants may claim UC benefits in RI, they must report the following:

  • Who they contacted: Petitioners must report every employer they contacted during a single week. Applicants are also required to list the companies these hiring managers or supervisors work for.
  • Target positions: Claimants need to disclose the positions they applied for. Similarly, enrollees must also report the shifts or hours these occupations would require them to work.
  • Dates they applied: Applicants must record when they contacted these specific employers.
  • Methods of contact: Candidates need to submit to the DLT an explanation about how they applied for these jobs. For example, enrollees must report if they applied online, in person or by mailing in their resumes.

Petitioners who are claiming benefits for UC must also report any wages they earn during the weeks they are claiming. Enrollees’ UC payments fluctuate depending on how much they earned in a particular week and if beneficiaries are overpaid, they are required to repay the DLT the excess amount.

To avoid being overpaid on their unemployment benefits claim, enrollees must tell the state how much income they earned at that time. In particular, candidates are obligated to disclose any wages, tips, commission, pension or unpaid vacation time they receive. Similarly, recipients must report any non-monetary compensation they receive. This may exist in the form of meals or housing exchanges. Finally, enrollees must upload their resumes on the DLT’s EmployRI website within six weeks of filing their initial claims.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment benefits in Rhode Island?

Petitioners who are denied unemployment in Rhode Island have 15 days to file appeals, should they wish to contest the DLT’s decisions. Employers who disagree with the department’s determinations must also adhere to this deadline if they would like to appeal. Both parties have the right to request redeterminations in these instances. Candidates who would like to file an unemployment denial appeal must do so by:

  • Sending a letter through the mail.
  • Petitioning via fax.
  • Calling the DLT and requesting an appeal over the phone.

Afterward, candidates and their employers will learn when their denied unemployment benefits hearings will take place. The DLT Central Adjunction Unit mails Notices of Referee Hearing to participating parties, which include the dates and times the trials will take place. These documents also outline relevant issues that will be discussed during the hearings, as well as whether or not the trials will take place over the phone.

The referee overseeing the denied UI hearings is required to hear these cases and make their own inferences based on the evidence they are presented with. During these trials, either party has the opportunity to present new evidence or have witnesses testify for them. Furthermore, either the employers or the claimants may have legal representation present to assist them with their hearings but it is not a requirement.

Once the denied unemployment benefits hearings conclude, the referees distribute their determinations to all relevant parties. If either the petitioners or the employers wish to further refute these decisions, they may file their appeals to the Board of Review.

How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in Rhode Island?  

A federal unemployment extension in Rhode Island or in other states throughout the country is not usually available. This is due to the fact that an unemployment benefits extension is only made available during periods when there are substantially more unemployed workers than normal.

Congress is responsible for approving an unemployment extension and these extensions are offered either nationally or on a state-by-state basis. In either instance, UI extensions allow beneficiaries to collect program funds beyond their states’ enrollment limits. As a result, an unemployment compensation extension in RI allows claimants to receive more than 26 weeks’ worth of benefits during a single calendar year. DLT representatives publicize these extensions when they are offered, so candidates should be aware when they become available.

How do I contact the Rhode Island unemployment office?

The Rhode Island unemployment office maintains locations throughout the state. Petitioners and employers may call these locations with any program questions they have. Similarly, candidates who live near a UI benefits office may visit these locations and ask their questions in person. The Providence Labor and Training Department unemployment insurance office can be found at:

1 Reservoir Avenue

Providence, Rhode Island 02907

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How can I contact the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training?

If you are having trouble filing your unemployment claim, you can contact the  Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training by calling 401-243-9100, Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays, 8 am to 3 pm and Fridays from 9 am to 3 pm. They are closed Wednesdays and over the weekend. Keep in mind that the call center typically experiences the highest call volumes on Mondays and Tuesdays, early in the day.

What is an EPC Card?

In the state of Rhode Island, individuals who qualify for unemployment benefits can choose to receive those benefits in 2 ways, direct deposit and Electronic Payment Card (EPC). Individuals can use the Electronic Payment Card the same way as a debit card.

What is Teleserve?

In Rhode Island, Teleserve is an automated system that is available online and by telephone. This system allows individuals to certify that they were available and able to work and that they have been actively seeking work the previous week.

What if I forget to use Teleserve one week?

If you forget to certify your claim one week, you must re-file the claim as soon as possible. If you do not re-file the claim, it may result in losing benefits for that week.

Rhode Island Unemployment Office Locations

UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY INFORMATION

Department of Labor and Training Center General Complex 1511 Pontiac Avenue Cranston, RI 2920 (401) 462-8000 View Website Unemployement Claim File