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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article we will discuss unemployment in Iowa, including:

  • Am I Eligible for Iowa Unemployment Benefits?
  • “Good Cause” for Quitting
  • When Can I Collect Unemployment in Iowa?
  • How to Collect Unemployment in Iowa

Am I Eligible for Iowa Unemployment Benefits?

If you have worked and earned wages at least part-time in Iowa for work covered by unemployment insurance during the last 18 months, and earned the minimum wages as set by Iowa law, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in Iowa. Eligibility depends in large part on the reason you were separated from your last employer. If you are out of work through no fault of your own, you may be eligible.

Eligibility also depends on complete separation from your employer. If you are on a leave of absence, you will not qualify for UI benefits because you are expected to return to work with this employer in the future. However, if you are working reduced hours through no fault of your own, it will be treated as a complete separation from your employer for the purpose of determining UI eligibility.

“Good Cause” for Quitting

Typically, if you quit or are fired from your job due to fault of your own then you are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. This includes voluntarily quitting because you lacked childcare, were taking care of a family member or lacked transportation. This also includes dissatisfaction with the pay or terms of your employment.

However, there are limited circumstances under which you may have “good cause” for voluntarily leaving your place of employment. If this is the case, you may still be eligible for UI benefits in Iowa. Generally, “good cause” means that your reason for leaving was related to your job and so compelling that you had no other choice but to leave. This could include, but is not necessarily limited to leaving your place of employment due to dangerous work conditions or sexual harassment. You may also be eligible for benefits if you left for medical reasons as long as you put the employer on notice of the condition, let the employer know that quitting may be necessary if the problem wasn’t fixed and gave them an opportunity to fix the problem.

This determination of good cause is made on a case-by-case basis.

When Can I Collect Unemployment in Iowa?

You can file an initial claim for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in Iowa beginning the week you become unemployed or start working reduced hours. Your claim is effective the Sunday of the week you apply, NOT the day you became unemployed.

How to Collect Unemployment in Iowa

The easiest and fastest way to apply for unemployment benefits in Iowa is to apply online. You can also apply in-person at your local IowaWORKS center. You will need the following information in order to apply: social security number, home mailing address, phone number, email address, check stubs or W-2 forms, mailing address of employers, dates of employment and reason for leaving. You will also need your employment authorization number and the expiration date if you are a non-citizen. If you recently served in the military or worked for the government as a civilian employee there is additional information you will need.

You are also required to register for work when you apply for UI benefits in Iowa. You can also do this online or at your local IowaWORKS center. This ensures that you are notified of any other programs or services you may be eligible for and that you are making the required job contacts each week. At minimum, you will be required to provide your social security number (SSN) and a resume to register for work.

Once your application is submitted, you will need to file weekly claims online reporting any gross earnings. Earnings should be reported the week the hours are worked. Be sure not to wait until you are paid to report earnings. If you fail to make your weekly claim, you will be required to reopen your case by filing a new initial claim. You must still report any earnings received during the break.

In order to continue receiving UI benefits, you must be available four (4) or more days per week for immediate employment. If you are unavailable due to lack of transportation, illness or lack of childcare, you risk losing your benefits. You must also continue to search for employment weekly while receiving benefits. There are standards available to determine whether refusal of employment is proper on the Iowa Workforce Development website.

If you have any questions, contact an experienced attorney at O’Flaherty Law today! Call our office at (630) 324-6666, or schedule a consultation. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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