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Grown: How to apply for unemployment benefits in Arkansas

by Nyssa Kruse | May 11, 2021 at 10:14 a.m.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette STATON BREIDENTHAL --82010-- Workforce specialist Gilda Murdock (left) talks with Lawrence Alexander about his unemployment benefits Friday at the Arkansas Workforce Center on S. University Ave. in Little Rock. Unemployment numbers were slightly lower for July.

This story is a part of The Article, your guide to Arkansas news and culture, presented by the Democrat-Gazette. Sign up for The Article's twice-weekly newsletter here or to see stories that have appeared in past newsletters, go here.

In the course of a career, many workers will at some point face a job loss that leads them to apply for unemployment insurance.

Here are the basics on the process to apply for individuals who have worked in Arkansas, according to information provided by Zoë Calkins, communications director for the Division of Workforce Services.

For additional information, check out DWS’ quick guide to unemployment or the more in-depth unemployment insurance information handbook.

Who qualifies for unemployment?

People who worked in Arkansas may qualify for unemployment benefits if they are:

• Fully unemployed (lost job) or partially unemployed (lost hours but retained position)

• Able to perform work that is similar to work done in the past

• Available for work

What are common reasons applications are denied?

There are a variety of reasons an application could be denied, but some of the most common are because an individual:

• Quit their job without good cause or were fired for misconduct

• Refused to accept work or refused a recall after being laid off

• Did not claim weekly benefits in a timely manner

What documents do applicants need?

The documents and information needed to apply for unemployment are:

• Social Security number

• Current address and telephone number

• Contact information for all employers in the past 12 months

• The start and end dates for current or most recent employer

If an applicant is not a citizen, they will also need their Alien Registration number. If an applicant worked for the federal government, they will need an SF-8 form.

If an applicant served in the military in the last 18 months, they will need DD-214 Member Copy 4 form.

A valid government ID may also be required.

How do you apply?

Individuals can file an application online at or in-person at any Arkansas Workforce Center office.

Applicants will also need to create a Personal Identification Number online at or by phone using ArkLine (501) 907-2590. The PIN is used to file weekly claims.

How much will individuals receive in benefits?

The amount an individual qualifies for is tied to the amount of income they made before becoming unemployed.

The minimum weekly amount a person can receive in benefits is $81 and the maximum is $451.

How will the benefits be delivered?

Benefits will be deposited either onto a debit card or into a bank account via direct deposit.

Individuals can set up direct deposit online at or by phone using ArkLine (501) 907-2590. Recipients will need their PIN.

How do individuals keep receiving benefits after initial application?

Recipients must file a claim for benefits in the seven days following any given calendar week in which they were unemployed.

For example, if filing a claim for the week of Sunday, April 25 to Saturday, May 1, the claim must be filed sometime between Sunday, May 2, and Saturday, May 8.

To receive benefits, individuals are required to look for work by reaching out to employers or filling out job applications. After some weeks of receiving benefits, the number varies, recipients will be required to begin reporting in detail to the state their job search activities.

Can individuals receive benefits while working?

Applicants can receive benefits while working part-time, but their benefits may be reduced as a result.

If the amount earned while working part-time is greater than 40% of an individual’s weekly unemployment benefit amount, the amount of benefits given will be reduced by the amount earned over the 40% threshold.

If the income is more than 140% of the weekly amount a person receives in unemployment benefits, they will not receive any benefits.

For example, if an individual qualifies $200 a week in benefits, they can work for up to $80 a week without their benefits being reduced. If the same recipient worked for $100 a week, though, they would receive only $180 in benefits.

If the same person earned $280 in a week by working, they would not qualify for any benefits.

How long do benefits last?

In general, unemployment benefits last 16 weeks. However, there are some cases, such as when certain workers enter a qualifying training program, that allow for continued benefits.

Federal programs during the coronavirus pandemic also paid for extended benefits, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced May 7 the state would no longer be participating in the programs effective June 26.


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