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Virginia Unemployment Benefits

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Unemployment can strike workers at any moment. Whether job loss comes as a surprise to the workers or they knew their dismissals were coming, the sudden shift in profession can be jarring to residents. Fortunately, the Virginia unemployment insurance (UI) program is in place to help support claimants and make sure they stay afloat during this transition. Also called unemployment compensation (UC), this benefits program is available to in-state workers who lost their jobs due to reasons that were out of their control.

Tasked with managing the state’s unemployment insurance benefits program, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) oversees all petitions that candidates submit for enrollment. Many candidates need to participate in an unemployment phone interview with a VEC employee or otherwise have contact with these state representatives. As a result, it is important that claimants know what the department expects of them before they apply for UI. The sections below include information on what documents applicants need to consult in order to complete their UC petitions. The information below also addresses what steps enrollees must take in order to claim unemployment benefits each week they are program members.

What is unemployment in Virginia?

The Virginia unemployment program draws its funding through employers’ tax dollars and petitioners do not need to pay fees when they submit their applications for the program. Therefore, candidates who believe they have an unemployment claim should apply for benefits the moment they officially lose their jobs. Claimants who are accepted into the program are offered monetary packages each week they are enrolled to receive unemployment insurance benefits. With these funds, applicants can continue support their households during transitions to new professions.

While unemployment coverage provides claimants with unparalleled support as they look for new work opportunities, candidates need to remember that this program is not available to them indefinitely. In fact, the VEC imposes strict limitations on how long and how much enrollees may be awarded through their UI claim. Enrollees may only receive unemployment insurance coverage for a maximum of 26 weeks during one calendar year.

The VEC also limits how much money petitioners can legally collect each week. The minimum weekly benefit amount (WBA) candidates may collect with UC insurance is $60. The maximum WBA petitioners may be granted is $378. These limits are in place to help ensure candidates receive funds for an appropriate period of time and that their packages are proportionate to their previous incomes and earnings.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Virginia?

There is stringent eligibility for unemployment requirements in place to determine the types of candidates who may receive UC. These qualifications for unemployment in Virginia are uniform throughout the state. More specifically, candidates must:

  • Be either fully or partially unemployed: Only candidates who are fully or somewhat without work may qualify for UI benefits. In order to meet this requirement, petitioners must be working fewer hours than usual.
  • Have had their jobs terminated or work hours reduced due to reasons they did not inspire: VA unemployment insurance eligibility stipulations indicate that only petitioners who did not cause their own job losses may receive UI.
  • Possess full availability to work: Petitioners may only qualify for UC if they maintain schedules that permit them to work full-time.

When evaluating who qualifies for unemployment, the VEC also takes into account the income that claimants earned in their base periods. Base periods consist of 12 months, and the exact months used are dependent upon when petitioners filed their claims. For example, candidates who file in:

  • January, February or March have base periods that began two Octobers ago.
  • April, May or June have base periods that began in January last year.
  • July, August or September use base periods that started in April last year.
  • October, November or December use base periods that commenced in July last year.

Candidates’ eligibility for unemployment in VA examines how much income petitioners earned during their base periods. In order to receive the maximum WBA, candidates needed to have earned $18,900.01 total in two quarters during their base periods. To generally qualify for UC benefits, however, claimants must have earned a minimum of $3,000 in total wages during two base period quarters.

How can I sign up for unemployment in Virginia?

Researching how to apply for unemployment online in Virginia is important for many applicants. This is generally the preferred petition method for potential beneficiaries. However, in moments when the website is locked due to overuse, claimants may apply over the telephone. Likewise, candidates without access to a computer may apply for unemployment benefits by calling their VEC call centers. Independent of the application method petitioners use, candidates need to supply the following information about their former employers:

  • Who they worked for.
  • Where these employers are located.
  • When the candidates worked there.
  • Why they separated from these businesses.

When they file for an unemployment claim in VA, candidates may need to supply additional information regarding past employers in some cases. At this time, claimants must also decide if they would like to receive UC funds directly deposited into their debit accounts. Candidates who choose this option when they file for unemployment must provide their corresponding bank account numbers and routing numbers.

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

Most candidates will need to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Virginia after they submit their program applications. Petitioners who lose their jobs for reasons besides being laid off due to work shortages are obligated to participate in an unemployment phone interview. These conversations are moderated by hearing officers.

The questions asked during the unemployment interview relate to the particular reasons that caused claimants’ job losses to transpire. At this stage in the process, employers may either petition to be included in these conversations, or they may supply the VEC with their own information in writing or over the phone. Around the time of the unemployment interview with the claimant, however, petitioners have the chance to address their employers’ statements.

In order to properly prepare for the UI interview, candidates must be sure they fully understand and can articulate why they are unemployed. Applicants may ready themselves for these conversations by arranging any evidence they have that illustrates how and why they lost their jobs. If petitioners quit their jobs, they should ready a copy of their two weeks’ notice.

Likewise, candidates who were fired can arrange in preparation for their UI phone interview any written warnings their supervisors sent them before they lost their jobs. Similarly, having copies of their original employment contracts as well as their employee handbooks on hand can be helpful.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in Virginia?

After enrollees’ target weeks end, they must call or log in online to claim unemployment benefits in Virginia. During this process, petitioners need to answer a series of questions about their activities and finances for the weeks they are claiming. In particular, candidates must disclose:

  • If they worked at all.
  • How much wages they earned.
  • Whether or not they refused any viable work opportunities or permanent offers.
  • If they were denied work due to failing drug tests.
  • Whether or not candidates attended school or training.
  • How much compensation candidates earned through venues, such as unpaid vacation time or pension reimbursement.

Moreover, candidates who aim to maintain their unemployment benefits claim in VA must also ensure they are meeting the state’s work search requirements each week. The specifics of these obligations are relayed to individual enrollees once they are accepted into the program. Regardless, all petitioners are obligated to perform more than one activity each week they receive benefits. In order to diligently complete this step, program participants who are claiming benefits for unemployment must keep track of their efforts. This information should be organized and ready, in case the VEC requests to see it.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment in Virginia?

Although some candidates may be denied unemployment in Virginia by the VEC for their initial claims, these decisions are not binding. Petitioners have the legal right to request that these decisions be reevaluated. Similarly, employers may also file appeals. These requests must be submitted to the VEC:

  • Online.
  • By fax.
  • Through the mail.

During their denied unemployment benefits appeals, candidates may submit additional documentation that supports their claims. Applicants’ goals in these trials is to prove to the appeals examiners that they are deserving of their UC benefits. As a result, candidates must be sure to prepare their evidences and arrange their witnesses before the unemployment denial appeal hearings begin. Similarly, either claimants or employers may have legal representation present throughout their hearings. However, each party is responsible for making these arrangements on their own, if desired.


After the denied UI hearings conclude, the appeals examiners distribute their redeterminations. Employers and candidates who have their unemployment compensation benefits denied again may request subsequent appeals. However, petitioners must file Commission Appeals.

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

A Virginia federal unemployment extension provides UI recipients who have already exhausted their program benefits for the year with additional funding. When an unemployment benefits extension is available, claimants may receive program stipends beyond the state’s 26-week enrollment maximum. The VEC will notify petitioners when one of these amendments are available. However, they are not common. Congress’ role is to approve and provide an unemployment extension to areas with higher than average rates of joblessness. As a result, these provisions are only available in particular circumstances.

How do I contact the Virginia unemployment office?

There are Virginia unemployment offices stationed in various cities throughout the state. Petitioners and employers with questions about their UI claims can visit the VEC and ask about their particular situations. The UI unemployment office in Richmond can be found at:

703 E Main Street

Richmond, Virginia 23219

However, candidates who are not located near an unemployment insurance office may also elect to call the VEC. Each office maintains its own phone number and parties may also call the VEC Customer Contact Center.


What is the Virginia Workforce Connection?

The Virginia Workforce Connection is the state website which helps connect individuals in need of jobs to connect with employers. It is mandatory for individuals who are collecting unemployment information to register with the Virginia Workforce Connection.

When should I file for unemployment?

You should file for unemployment as soon as possible. If you can, you should file the day of or the day after losing your job. Never wait more than a week to file for unemployment. Keep in mind that the state does not take into consideration the time between the day you lose your job and the day you file your claim.

What if I need to file for unemployment in another state?

If you need to file for unemployment benefits in another state besides Virginia, the state will help you file that claim against the proper state. How do I repay an overpayment? If you have been over paid during any of your benefit weeks, it must be paid back. Any overpayment that you can not pay back in full must be paid in installments.

Virginia Unemployment Office Locations


Virginia Employment Commission 703 E. Main St Richmond, VA 23219 (866) 832-2363 View Website Unemployement Claim File

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