Coronavirus
- Coronavirus Unemployment Updates - (Coronavirus)
How to Apply
- How to Apply for Unemployment - (How to Apply)
Eligibility
- Unemployment Benefits Eligibility & Amounts - (Eligibility)
Local Resources
- Local Unemployment Benefits Resources - (Local Resources)
Problems
- Handling Unemployment Problems - (Problems)
- Working With a Lawyer - (Lawyers)
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Silver Bow County, MT Unemployment Guide

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Learn about the self-help resources available to you at the Silver Bow County Job Centers.

Coronavirus Update! -- What Montana Residents Need to Know About Unemployment Benefits

As the coronavirus continues to keep businesses closed across the country, the unemployment rate remains high. If you have lost your job in Montana, you can apply for unemployment benefits at the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division. Find resources about how unemployment claims relating to COVID-19 will be handled in Montana.

As of mid-May 2021, more than 16 million people were collecting some form of unemployment. This figure includes the millions of employees who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and the steps state and local governments have taken to contain it, from orders shutting down nonessential businesses to shelter-in-place restrictions, school closures, and more. It also includes millions of gig workers, contractors, and self-employed people who are collecting unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. 

As explained below, the federal government has created several pandemic unemployment benefit programs, to provide enhanced benefits for a longer period of time to more people who are out of work. However, some states are beginning to cut off federal benefit programs, beginning on June 12.

Governor Gianforte announced that Montana will end its participation in all of the federal pandemic unemployment benefit programs on June 26, 2021. After that date: 

  • claimants won't receive additional benefits of $300 per week
  •  claimants won't receive any additional weeks of benefits once their state benefits run out, and
  • benefits will no longer be available to freelancers, gig workers, contractors, and others through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. 

Montana will also introduce a "return-to-work bonus" program, which will pay $1,200 to certain people who were on unemployment, accepted a job, and have worked for at least four weeks. 

If You Are Still Employed: Some states provide paid time off that may be available to you. See Am I Entitled to Paid Sick Leave, Family Leave, or Vacation Time in Montana to learn more. 

How Unemployment Programs Are Adapting to COVID-19

Federal and state governments have made changes to their unemployment programs, to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. more...  


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How Do I Apply for Unemployment Benefits in Montana?

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, some states are imposing restrictions on people gathering in public locations. This may affect your ability to access physical offices of the the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division in person. Check Montana's unemployment insurance agency website for more information. And, read on to find out how you can file for unemployment insurance benefits in Montana online or by phone.

If You Are Still Employed: You may be eligible for emergency paid sick leave or paid family leave under a new federal law, the Families First Coronavirus Act. Some states also provide paid time off that may be available to you. See Am I Entitled to Paid Sick Leave, Family Leave, or Vacation Time in Montana to learn more about these programs. 

Montana's unemployment insurance agency website gives you the information you need to apply for unemployment insurance in Montana. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division’s website tells you:

  • What information you’ll need on hand to apply for unemployment insurance benefits
  • How to apply online for unemployment insurance benefits
  • How to file for benefits if you don’t want to file online
  • How to reach the Claim Processing Center in your county for help
  • How to calculate the amount of unemployment insurance benefits you can receive, and
  • What to do to keep receiving unemployment insurance benefits in Montana.

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Am I Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Montana?

You qualify for unemployment benefits in Montana if you meet two basic requirements:

  • you must have earned at least a minimum amount in the time before you lost your job, and
  • you must be out of work through no fault of your own.

If you meet these two qualifications when you apply, you will likely be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. (To keep receiving benefits after you are found eligible, you will also have to meet your state’s job search requirements; to learn more, see What Do I Have to Do to Keep Receiving Unemployment Benefits in Montana?)

Coronavirus Update: In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES" Act, which we cover here), which greatly expanded eligibility for unemployment; Congress has twice extended these benefits, which are now set to last in most states until September 6, 2021. (Learn about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits to gig workers, freelancers, and others who aren't eligible for traditional unemployment benefits.) However, some states have decided to opt out of these pandemic unemployment programs early; find out if your state is cutting off pandemic benefits. A number of states have also eased their eligibility rules to ensure that more people who are out of work due to COVID-19 qualify for unemployment benefits.

Learn how Montana is managing unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic at the  Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division's resource page on COVID-19, as well as an FAQ on coronavirus and unemployment insurance benefits.

 

 

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How the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Affects Montana Unemployment Benefits

In March of 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package that pumps money into many areas of our economy that have been impacted by COVID-19, including unemployment benefits. Congress has twice passed stimulus bills that extend or renew some of these programs, most recently in March of 2021. Read on to learn how the CARES Act affects those who are out of work in Montana.

Some states are cutting off CARES Act benefits early! So far, sixteen states have decided to opt out of the CARES Act pandemic unemployment benefit programs in June or July of 2021, rather than allowing them to continue until September 6, 2021. Up to two million workers in these states will lose their unemployment benefits. Learn which states are cutting off benefits early -- and what it means to those who are collecting unemployment. 

More Montana Workers Are Eligible for Benefits

In every state, employees qualify for benefits if they are temporarily out of work through no fault of their own. However, prior to the CARES Act, some categories of workers could not get benefits, including independent contractors (freelancers, gig workers, and the self-employed). The CARES Act authorizes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which makes these workers eligible for unemployment for the first time during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Part-time workers are eligible for benefits under this new program, even if state law does not ordinarily allow them to collect benefits. And, workers who do not have a sufficient work history to qualify for benefits under Montana's usual eligibility rules might still qualify.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was set to expire on December 26, 2020. However, Congress has extended the program twice, and it will now last until September 6, 2021 (except in those states that are cutting off these benefits early).

Montana Workers Who Are Out of Work Due to COVID-19 Likely Qualify for Benefits

The CARES Act also relaxes eligibility rules about the reasons workers are unemployed to allow more workers to collect benefits. For example, you will be eligible for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program if you are out of work for any of these reasons, even if you wouldn't otherwise qualify under your state's usual rules:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms and seeking a diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a family or household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You cannot work because your child or other household member for whom you are the primary caregiver is unable to attend school or another facility that has closed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • You are unable to go to work because of a quarantine or because you have been advised to self-quarantine by a health-care provider.
  • You were scheduled to begin a job that no longer exists or that you can’t get to for reasons relating to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • You have become the breadwinner or major support for your household because the head of household died as a result of COVID-19.
  • You have to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your workplace is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Some states have expanded their traditional unemployment programs to cover coronavirus-related job losses.

Learn how Montana is managing unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic at the  Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division's resource page on COVID-19, as well as an FAQ on coronavirus and unemployment insurance benefits.

 

If you have lost work due to COVID-19 but don't qualify under your state's rules, you will likely qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

more...  

COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits in Montana FAQ

1. What are coronavirus unemployment benefits?

2. How do I apply for unemployment if I am out of work due to COVID-19?

3. Can self-employed people and gig workers who have lost work due to COVID-19 collect unemployment?

4. How much will I get in unemployment benefits if I am unemployed due to COVID-19?

5. How long will my benefits last if I am unemployed because of COVID-19?

6. Can I collect unemployment if I was furloughed due to COVID-19?

7. Can I collect unemployment if I am quarantined or have symptoms of COVID-19?

8. Can I collect unemployment if I can’t work because my child’s school or care facility was closed due to COVID-19?

9. Where can I find the latest information on how Montana is dealing with unemployment claims relating to coronavirus?

1. What are coronavirus unemployment benefits?

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Employment Security Act (the CARES Act) created several new unemployment programs, designed specifically to reach those who have lost work due to COVID-19 and the steps state and local governments have taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus. These programs have twice been extended by Congress, and will now be available until September 6, 2021 (except in those states that are cutting off these benefits early). They include:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: Unemployment Benefits for Contractors, Gig Workers, and Self-Employed Workers in Montana

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – the $2 trillion stimulus package Congress passed on March 27, 2020 – extends unemployment benefits to many workers who are not eligible for traditional unemployment. Although the program was originally set to end in December 2020, Congress has extended it twice, most recently until September 6, 2021. (However, some states are cutting off these benefits early.)

Read on to learn more about the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides up to 79 weeks of benefits to gig workers, contractors, self-employed people, and others in Montana who have lost income as a result of COVID-19 and don’t otherwise qualify for unemployment.

Do You Qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

You must meet two criteria to qualify for PUA: You must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits, and you must have lost work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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How Much Will I Collect in Unemployment Benefits in Montana?

In Montana, you can earn up to $572 per week in unemployment benefits under state law. Additional money is available under federal law, however.

Until September 6, 2021, unemployment claimants in most states are eligible for an additional $300 in benefits per week, on top of their state benefit amount, under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act"). (If you lost income from both employment and self-employment, you may be eligible for $400 extra per week.)

This program (called Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) was providing an additional $600 per week in benefits, until it expired at the end of July 2020. Congress renewed the program at the lower amount of $300 per week in December of 2020, and extended it in March of 2021. This temporary program is now set to expire on Labor Day in most states; however, some states have decided to opt out of this program early

Every state has its own rules for calculating unemployment benefits. Typically, the amount you receive each week is based on your earnings when you were employed. After all, unemployment benefits are intended to replace some of the income you lost along with your job, and tide you over until you find new work.

Calculating Your Benefit Amount

Your weekly unemployment benefit amount depends on your earnings during the base period.

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What Do I Have to Do to Keep Receiving Unemployment Benefits in Montana?

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, federal and state governments have made changes to their unemployment programs, to ensure that more people who are out of work receive benefits more quickly. These changes may affect waiting periods, job search requirements, and availability of benefits to those who are still working part time. These changes include the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ("CARES") Act, which greatly expands the nation's unemployment compensation program, including continuation of benefits. Keep in mind that you are entitled to an additional 53 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits under the federal CARES Act after your state benefits are exhausted if you are unemployed due to COVID-19.

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Making Weekly Unemployment Benefit Claims in Montana

Approval of your initial claim for unemployment benefits is just the beginning of the unemployment compensation process for you. You need to file weekly claims (in most states; some states require bi-weekly filings) with Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division to keep receiving benefit payments. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division describes the weekly claim-filing requirements in its Claimant Handbook: Your Benefits Rights and Responsibilities. The Montana agency website also has instructions on how to file for weekly benefits.



Contacting the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, some states are imposing restrictions on people gathering in public locations. This may affect your ability to access physical offices of the the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division in person. Check Montana's unemployment insurance agency website for more information. In some states, you can even contact the unemployment agency by snail mail. You can find the contact information for the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division in Claimant Handbook: Your Benefits Rights and Responsibilities. The handbook lists the addresses and phone numbers to reach the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division if you have questions or you want to follow up on your claim for unemployment benefits.



Can I Collect Unemployment Benefits If I Was Wrongfully Terminated?

In order to collect unemployment, you must meet two basic requirements. First, you must have earned at least a minimum amount, set by state law, in the time before you lost your job. Second, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. For more information about these requirements, see Who is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Montana?

If you lose your job in a layoff, reduction-in-force (RIF), or downsizing, you will be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. But, these are not the only ways that employees lose their jobs. Your eligibility for benefits depends upon the reason you become unemployed. 

If You Were Fired for Misconduct

Generally-speaking, if you are terminated, you can collect unemployment insurance benefits in Montana. But, there is an exception to that general rule in Montana:

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Can I Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Montana?

If the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division denies you unemployment insurance benefits, you can appeal. After you file your initial claim for unemployment benefits, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division will send you a written determination of your eligibility for benefits and, if it finds you eligible, how much you will receive in benefits. But, if the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division finds that you are not eligible for benefits or grants you benefits in a lower amount than you believe you are entitled to, you can appeal that decision. And, if the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division finds you eligible to receive benefits, your ex-employer can appeal that decision.

If you want to appeal the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division decision, check the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division website and handbook for:

  • Any forms and instructions for filing your appeal
  • The deadline for filing your appeal
    more...  

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Unemployment Benefits in Montana?

Having your own lawyer to represent you in the unemployment insurance benefits process in Montana will level the playing field for you—because your ex-employer will be represented. Your ex-employer is almost certainly going to have a lawyer or two offering guidance through the Montana unemployment process. This legal advice can give your ex-employer an edge over you in the process, especially if they intend to challenge your claim for benefits. Your own lawyer can:

  • Help you figure out if you are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in Montana
  • Tell you if your employer’s stated reason for terminating you is valid and will bar benefits
  • Guide you through Montana’s unemployment insurance benefits claim process
  • Advise you on how to keep receiving unemployment insurance benefits, and
  • Assist you if you need to appeal a denial of unemployment insurance benefits by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Unemployment Insurance Division

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How Can I Find a Good Unemployment Lawyer in Montana?

There are several ways to find a good lawyer to help with your unemployment claim in Montana. The best way to find a lawyer is always through a referral from someone you know. Ask family members, friends, and other professionals you work with whether they can recommend a good employment lawyer. 

Lawyers specialize, so your friend’s divorce lawyer won’t be the right person to handle your unemployment appeal. However, lawyers also know other lawyers, so don’t hesitate to ask a well-recommended lawyer in a different field for an employment lawyer referral. 

If you can’t find a lawyer through personal referrals, here are a couple of other options: 

Finding an Unemployment Lawyer in Butte, Montana

Do you need legal help with your claim for unemployment benefits or your appeal of a denial of benefits in Butte, Montana? You’ll want to find an attorney who knows Montana unemployment law, understands the process for filing a claim, appeal, or lawsuit in Montana, and has experience in the administrative agencies and courts in Montana.

Here are some good ways to find the right lawyer.

Legal Aid Serving Butte, Montana

If your income is low, you may be able to get legal help for your unemployment claim through your local legal aid organization.

Listing of free legal services in Butte, Montana from Legal Services Corporation.

(Current income guidelines to qualify for legal aid.)

Not every legal aid office handles unemployment cases. But if your local legal aid office does not, or if your income exceeds the legal aid limit, the office may be able to refer you to a local unemployment lawyer.  



Directories of Butte, Montana Unemployment Attorneys

Here are a few selected websites that offer directories of employment attorneys that serve Butte, Montana. Not all attorneys list on all directories, so we offer a choice here to let users access the widest possible selection of Butte, Montana unemployment lawyers. 

Lawyer Referral Services in Montana

Check with the Montana Bar Association for information about lawyer referral services in Butte, Montana. A lawyer referral service matches potential clients with attorneys who specialize in that area of law, such as wrongful termination or unemployment appeals. 

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Paying an Unemployment Lawyer in Montana

If you may be (or already have been) denied unemployment benefits in Montana, you may be wondering whether you need a lawyer -- and whether you can afford to hire a lawyer to help with your unemployment case. (If you're wondering what a lawyer can do for you, check out Five Ways an Unemployment Lawyer Can Help You.) It all depends on your financial situation and how (and how much) the attorney charges. In some situations, an unemployment attorney may be willing to offer you a contingency fee arrangement. This means the lawyer gets paid only if you win, out of the money you receive as a settlement or award. 

Below, we explain some typical attorney fee arrangements in unemployment cases. 

Initial Consultation

Your first step in choosing an attorney – and deciding whether it makes sense to fight your employer in an unemployment claim, appeal, or lawsuit – is an initial consultation. The initial consultation provides you and the attorney an opportunity to decide whether and how you will work together. 

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Five Ways an Unemployment Lawyer Can Help You in Montana

If you have a straightforward unemployment claim, you will likely be able to file for unemployment benefits on your own, without any help from a lawyer. Your claim is relatively simple if you can easily meet the Montana earnings requirements to qualify for benefits, and you and your employer agree that you lost your job through no fault of your own (for example, because you were laid off or had to quit when your military spouse was transferred to another state).

But if your case is more complicated, it might make sense to consult with or hire an unemployment lawyer to represent you. An unemployment lawyer can help you if you are facing any of the situations described below.

1. Your Employer Claims You Were Fired for Misconduct

You will be disqualified from receiving benefits in Montana if you were discharged for misconduct connected with your work or affecting your employment. 

 

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About Unemployment Benefits By Zip Code

Here at Legal Consumer, we want to help people find answers to everyday legal questions about important topics like bankruptcy, Obamacare, inheritance, and more. 

Now, we’ve turned our attention to employment law. Because, while almost everyone has (or has had) a job, it can be surprisingly tough to get good, high-quality local information about workplace rights. 

We'll be adding new topics over time, but we’ve started with unemployment benefits. If you’ve recently lost your job, unemployment benefits can be a real lifesaver. They replace some of your income, temporarily, while you look for a new job. But not everyone qualifies for benefits, and the amount and duration of benefits can vary a lot from state to state. 

more...  

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