Like most states, Georgia determines eligibility for unemployment insurance compensation based on a combination of work history and earnings. The specific number of hours you may have worked in any particular time frame is unimportant. Even if you haven’t worked a full-time week in years, you are eligible to collect unemployment benefits in Georgia as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements.
Georgia bases eligibility for benefits, as well as the amount of those benefits, on your earnings during a base period that consists of the first four of the five calendar quarters preceding the date of your claim. That is, if you file for benefits anytime during the first calendar quarter in the year, your base period is the first three calendar quarters of the prior year, plus the fourth quarter of the year before that. You must have earned wages during at least two of those quarters, and your employer must have paid unemployment insurance premiums on those earnings.
According to the Georgia Department of Labor, which administers Georgia’s unemployment insurance program, your insured wages during the two highest-earning quarters of your base period must be at least $1,134. In addition, your total wages for all four quarters of the base period must be at least one-and-a-half times what you were paid during those two highest-earning quarters. The number of hours you worked during any particular week is immaterial to these calculations.
Other Eligibility Requirements
In addition to the income requirements, you must meet other eligibility standards. You must be:
- separated from your last job for reasons beyond your control, such as a layoff or a plant closing,
- able to prove that you’re lawfully in the United States and eligible to work, and
- available for and actively seeking work.
Georgia’s minimum weekly unemployment insurance compensation is $44, and the maximum is $330. Weekly payments outside these parameters are not permitted. To determine your weekly benefit, Georgia adds the amount of insured wages you earned during you two highest-paying calendar quarters and divides the total by 42. The result is your weekly benefit, subject to the minimum and maximum amounts noted.
Duration of Benefits
The maximum number of weeks a claimant may receive benefits is between 14 and 20 weeks, depending on Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate when the claim is filed. Claims filed in the first calendar quarter of 2015, when the unemployment rate was below 6.5 percent, would be capped at 14 weeks. Federal legislation may authorize additional weeks beyond Georgia’s state-mandated maximums.