Unemployment Insurance Benefits

When a layoff or corporate merger eliminates jobs, employees face unemployment and the sometimes difficult task of obtaining other jobs. Unemployment insurance benefits is a government assistance program that provides temporary financial relief to unemployed workers.

Administered by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES), the benefits program receives funding through unemployment insurance taxes paid by most employers. A "covered" employer is one who pays wages of $1,500 or more in a calendar quarter or who employs at least one or more workers for some portion of a day for at least 20 weeks a year.

Some employers and employees are not covered by the program. Independent contractors, commission-based insurance agents, seasonal employees, railroad workers, newspaper delivery persons under age 18, student nurses, interns, and work program students do not qualify for the program. Other ineligible occupations include certain agricultural and domestic workers, federal workers, National Guard members, and elected state officials.

An eligible worker must be unemployed through no fault of his own from a business that pays unemployment insurance. To qualify for benefits, the worker files an initial claim with the Unemployment Claims Office. He or she must register, routinely report to a local employment office, and be willing and available for work.

Certain actions can disqualify a person from eligibility. Quitting or being fired disqualifies the employee, as does unemployment because of a labor dispute and refusing to accept another job without good cause. An employee cannot receive unemployment benefits under another state law or commit willful misrepresentation or fraud to obtain benefits.

A worker filing for unemployment must disclose if he or she is paying child support payments. If he or she is, MDES notifies the state Department of Human Services, which issues an order for the support payments to be deducted from the unemployment benefits.

Once an employee files for unemployment, the agency determines whether to grant or deny benefits and notifies the worker and the employer. After the decision of the agency, the employer or employee may appeal the decision within 14 days.

For more information on unemployment benefits in Mississippi, contact the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.  Unemployment insurance claims are filed online at www.mdes.ms.gov or by calling 1-888-844-3577.