COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits (FAQ)

Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) LSC Funded
Contents

 

For updates on employment benefits and complete information, please visit:

 

Can I get unemployment benefits if my employer stops work due to COVID-19?

It depends. On June 27, 2021 Montana ended COVID-19 related unemployment benefits. You may still qualify for regular unemployment benefits. To apply, visit montanaworks.gov or call the Unemployment Insurance Division at (406) 444-2545.

 

Can I get unemployment benefits if I’m unable to work because I contracted COVID-19?

No. On June 27, 2021 Montana ended COVID-19 related unemployment benefits. Eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits no longer include COVID-19 related reasons.

 

I have to take care of someone with COVID-19 and cannot work. Can I get unemployment benefits?

No. On June 27, 2021 Montana ended COVID-19 related unemployment benefits. Eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits no longer include COVID-19 related reasons.

 

Do I have to prove I am looking for work to receive unemployment benefits?

Yes. Beginning June 27, 2021, Montana will return to pre-pandemic eligibility requirements. Claimants will need to be able and available for work, and actively seeking employment. For more information, visit Montana Department of Labor and Industry’s Claimant Handbook.

 

How long do I have to wait to receive my unemployment benefits?

If you are experiencing a delay in receiving your benefits, visit montanaworks.gov or call the Unemployment Insurance Division at (406) 444-2545.

 

What if I am having trouble applying for unemployment benefits online? 

The website to apply for unemployment in Montana is experiencing heavy traffic, and you might run into delays using the portal. All websites slow down when there are a lot of people using them at once. The Montana Department of Labor set up a help page for trouble logging into the site

 

What if I am self-employed? Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

No. Beginning June 27, 2021, Montana will no longer participate in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This means that eligibility requirements for unemployment no longer includes self-employed or independent contract workers.

 

Where can I find more information about unemployment benefits and COVID-19?

Check out the Montana Department of Labor's FAQ on Unemployment Insurance Changes.

 

Is there a deadline to file for COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

Yes, beginning June 27, 2021, the Montana will no longer participate in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). Any benefit claims filed prior to June 27, 2021 will include payment if you are found eligible. You may still apply for regular unemployment benefits at visit montanaworks.gov.

 

Can you receive back pay for unemployment benefits?

Yes, if you are entitled to them. A person may not always have qualified for each and every week. But if you were eligible you will get back-paid benefits for every week you were eligible to receive them, if you applied before June 27, 2021. This includes Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). If you have questions about back-pay for PUA, it can be a good idea to talk to a lawyer. 

 

How do you appeal unemployment benefits decisions?

It is important to meet the appeals deadline which is only 10 days from the date of the denial notice. If you miss the 10-day deadline, you can still request a hearing as long as you can show "good cause" for missing the appeal deadline. "Good cause" includes not receiving the notice in a timely manner. 

Contact the administrative hearings office directly (406-444-4662) for more information. You can also visit the Hearings FAQ for information.

 

Do I need a lawyer to appeal an unemployment benefits decision?

You can have a lawyer or other representative help you with your appeal. One will not be appointed to you. You have to hire one or apply for help with Montana Legal Services Association. If you are going to hire a lawyer, do so right away. Your lawyer will need time to prepare your case. If you hire a lawyer, he or she must file a Notice of Appearance with the Office of Administrative Hearings. A hearing is not automatically postponed because your lawyer may have a scheduling conflict.

 

What is the Return-to-Work Bonus Initiative?

The Return to Work Bonus is a one-time $1,200 bonus payment for eligible individuals. To be eligible, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Your name is on the active unemployment eligibility list as of May 1, 2021
  • You accept an offer of employment in any industry
  • You obtain employment and work for at least four (4) weeks for a single employer
  • Your employment must be obtained from May 4, 2021 through October 31, 2021.

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) will contact you with an offer informing you that you will be considered eligible to receive a bonus. You’ll receive a communication from DLI with more instruction on how to apply. Continue to watch MontanaWorks.Gov for more information, or you can email DLIRTW@mt.gov. To find out more about the Return to Work Bonus, you can visit the Return to Work Bonus page

 

What COVID-19 related changes happened on June 27, 2021?

  • Claimants who have exhausted their traditional UI benefits but had continued to receive them through the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will no longer be eligible for UI payments.
  • Montana will no longer be issuing supplemental $300 weekly payments to claimants under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.
  • Montana will no longer participate in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA presently provides benefits to the self-employed, the underemployed, independent contractors, and individuals who have been unable to work due to health or COVID-19 affected reasons. 
  • Montana will no longer participate in the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program, which offers supplemental payments to individuals who had both traditional W-2 income as well as self-employment income.
  • Requirements that claimants be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work in order to be considered eligible for benefits will be reinstated effective June 27, 2021. These requirements had previously been suspended under emergency rule-making authority in March of last year. 
  • To find out more about unemployment benefit changes, visit the Montana Department of Labor and Industry webpage about COVID-19 changes.

 

Where can I find more information about unemployment benefits and COVID-19?

 


Take Action

 

Apply for Unemployment 

 

Learn More

For more information on how to protect you and your family from COVID-19, visit:

 

Legal Help

If you have any questions about your rights, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer.

  • The State Bar Lawyer Referral Service may provide you with contact information for attorneys who provide the type of assistance you are seeking, for a fee. You can contact the State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at (406) 449-6577 or montanabar.org.
  • Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides free civil, non-criminal legal help to eligible clients. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help in Montana.
  • If you qualify for help from MLSA, you may be able to get free legal advice from a volunteer attorney by email using Ask Karla.

 


 

Last Review and Update: Sep 07, 2021
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