Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Georgia?
You qualify for unemployment benefits in Georgia 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 Georgia?)
Eligibility Requirement 1: Minimum Earnings
In every state, unemployment benefits are available only to those who are temporarily out of work. If you apply after being out of the workforce for years, for example, you won’t qualify for benefits. You must have been employed relatively recently, and earned at least a minimum amount, to be eligible.
States look at an applicant’s work history during a stretch of time called the “base period.”
In Georgia, the base period is the first four of the five complete calendar quarters immediately before you filed for benefits. For example, if you file for benefits on July 10, 2015, your base period will be from April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015. It would not include the most recent complete calendar quarter before you filed (April 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015) or the first ten days of July 2015.
Some states require only that you earn a minimum amount of money during the base period; other states require, either in addition or instead, that you have done some work in more than one quarter of the base period.
To qualify for benefits in Georgia, you must meet these three earnings requirements:
- You must have wages in at least two quarters of the base period.
- You must have earned at least $1,134 in your two highest paid quarters of the base period.
- Your earnings in the entire base period must be at least 1.5 times your earnings in your highest paid quarter.
If you did not earn enough to qualify for benefits during the regular base period, you may be able to use an alternate base period that counts more recent earnings. In Georgia, the alternate base period is the last four complete calendar quarters before you file your claim.
Eligibility Requirement 2: Reasons for Unemployment
To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. If you lose your job in a layoff, reduction-in-force (RIF), downsizing, or similar job action in which positions are cut for financial or strategic reasons, you will be eligible for benefits.
However, you don’t have to be laid off to collect unemployment. You may still be eligible even if you quit your job or you were fired, depending on the circumstances.
If You Quit Your Job
You will be disqualified from getting unemployment benefits if you left your last job voluntarily, without good cause related to the job. However, you will still be eligible if you quit to move with a spouse who was reassigned from one military assignment to another.
In some states, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits for a certain number of weeks. In other states, you may be disqualified until you get another job and earn a minimum amount (typically, this amount is less than you would have to earn to qualify for benefits in the first place). Contact the Georgia Department of Labor for more information.
If You Were Fired
You will be disqualified from receiving benefits in Georgia if you were discharged for:
- failing to obey rules, orders, or instructions, or failing to fulfill the duties of your job
- intentional conduct that resulted in the physical injury or assault of another
- property loss or damage, or
- violating the employer's drug-free workplace policy.
You may be disqualified either for a set number of weeks or until you get another job and earn a minimum amount, depending on state law. In some states, the length of the disqualification period depends on why you were fired. Contact the Georgia Department of Labor to find out more.
You may also be interested in:
Find out where you need to go to apply for unemployment benefits in Georgia and how to get help with the application process.
Learn the four requirements for continuing to receive unemployment benefits in Georgia and how and where to apply for weekly unemployment benefits.
Find out how and when to consider hiring a lawyer to help with your unemployment claim.