Individuals FAQs - Unemployment Insurance

  • What is unemployment insurance?

    Unemployment insurance is temporary income for workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and are either looking for another job, have a definite recall within 6 weeks of the last day worked, or are in approved training. The funding for unemployment insurance benefits comes from taxes paid by employers. Workers do not pay any of the costs.

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  • How do I file a claim for unemployment insurance?

    Unemployment claims can be filed in person at any Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) career center or by Internet from any computer with appropriate Internet access. 

    To file an unemployment claim via the Internet, you must have a valid email address. This email account should be your personal email address because private and confidential information about your claim will be sent to this email address. 

    GDOL Career Centers

    File an Unemployment Insurance Claim

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  • What information should I have when I file a claim?

    When filing a claim, you should have:

    ALL INDIVIDUALS: A copy of your valid government-issued picture identification and Employer Separation Notice, if you were given one. 

    PRIOR MILITARY PERSONNEL: At least one of the following: most recent DD-214 Member 4, “orders to report”, “orders of release”, military earnings and leave statement, and/or W-2 form(s) from your most recent military service. 

    PRIOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: Standard Form 50, Standard Form 8, W-2 form, or pay stubs (if you worked for the federal government at any time during the last 18 months). 

    UNION MEMBERS: Union card (if you are a member of a union that assists you in finding employment). 

    DISASTER AFFECTED INDIVIDUALS: A copy of your most recently completed income tax return or quarterly estimated income tax payment record(s), if applying for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and you are self-employed or a farmer. 

    NON-CITIZENS: A copy of the front and back of your Employment Authorization Document.

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  • Who can file by Internet?

    If you have earned Georgia wages in the past two years, you can file a Georgia Internet claim.

    Information for individuals who cannot file a Georgia claim by Internet:
    If you reside in Georgia but have not earned Georgia wages in the past two years, go to a Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) career center to obtain information for filing a claim against the proper state. We will also register you for employment services. 

    GDOL Career Centers

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  • What are the Browser Requirements for Filing a Claim Online?

    Javascript must be enabled and pop-up blockers should be set to allow pop-ups. 

    The claim filing process contains PDFs that may need to be printed and Adobe Acrobat Reader will be required. A free software download is available. Please ensure this software is available prior to beginning the claim filing process 

    Adobe web site

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  • What is the Applicant Status Affidavit?

    Georgia law requires that all applicants for UI benefits who are 18 years of age or older attest they are:

    • a United States citizen, or
    • a legal permanent resident, or
    • a non-citizen legally present in the United States.

    The GDOL performs electronic verification of your lawful presence in the United States with the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). The DDS validates the identity of individuals who indicate they have a Georgia-issued driver’s license or identification card.

    If completion of the affidavit is required, you must present valid government-issued picture identification to a GDOL representative to complete the affidavit and have it notarized. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you must also present acceptable, unexpired employment authorization document(s). The GDOL will verify your registration status with the U. S. Department of Homeland Security. You cannot receive benefit payments until your lawful presence in the U.S. is verified.

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  • Why is an affidavit required?

    Section 50-36-1 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) requires every applicant for public benefits, including unemployment insurance (UI), who is 18 years old or older, sign an affidavit attesting that they are (1) a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident or (2) a non-citizen legally present in the United States.

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  • When do I execute the Applicant Status Affidavit?

    The GDOL will notify you if you are required to complete an Applicant Status Affidavit attesting to your lawful presence in the United States. If required to do so, you must execute this affidavit whether you file your claim via the Internet on the GDOL website or in a career center. The affidavit is a one-time requirement for U.S. citizens. However, each time a non-citizen files a claim for UI benefits, Employment Authorization Document(s) must be provided.

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  • I executed an Applicant Status Affidavit last year when I filed for UI benefits. Do I have to execute another one this year?

    No. This is a one-time requirement, but non-citizen status documents must be presented each time an individual files for UI benefits.

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  • When is my claim effective?

    Your claim is effective the Sunday prior to the claim filing date for claims filed on or after July 1, 2019. Claims filed before 7/1/19 are effective the date the claim is filed.

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  • How do I qualify for unemployment insurance benefits?

    There are several qualification requirements, but these three are critical:

    • You must have earned enough money in the base period to set up a claim.
    • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own.
    • You must be able to work, be available for work, and be actively seeking work each week you claim benefits.
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  • What is the base period?

    The base period is the period of time we look at to determine if you have been paid enough wages to establish a claim. For Georgia, the base period is the first four of the last five calendar quarters completed at the time you file your claim. An alternative base period consisting of the most recently completed four calendar quarters will be used only when a claim cannot be established using the regular base period.

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  • How long must I have worked to establish a claim in Georgia?

    Your claim is based on insured wages earned in the base period, which is the first four of the last five calendar quarters completed at the time you file your claim. You must have earned qualifying wages in at least two of the four quarters in the base period. The total wages in the base period must equal or exceed one and one-half times the wages in the highest quarter. A secondary calculation will be made when the sole reason that a claim cannot be established is the one and one-half times requirement. An alternative base period consisting of the most recently completed four calendar quarters will be used only when a claim cannot be established using the regular base period.

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  • What are the minimum and maximum weekly benefits paid in Georgia?

    Effective July 1, 2019, for benefit years beginning on or after July 1, 2019, the minimum is $55 and the maximum is $365. The minimum is $44 and the maximum is $330 for initial claims filed between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2019. The amount an individual will receive is based on the amount of wages earned in the base period.

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  • What is the maximum and minimum number of weeks a regular unemployment claim can be established?

    Effective July 1, 2012, the maximum number of weeks a claim can be established will range from 14 to 20, depending on the seasonal adjusted statewide unemployment rate in use at the time the regular UI claim is filed. For claims filed from July 1 through December 31, Georgia’s seasonal adjusted UI rate for the previous April will be used. For claims filed from January 1 through June 30, Georgia’s seasonal adjusted UI rate for the previous October will be used. The minimum number of weeks is 6.

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  • How can I determine the potential maximum number of weeks a claim can be established?

    The date the claim is filed will determine this for you. The chart below provides the maximum number of weeks the claim can potentially be established based upon the unemployment rate in effect at the time the claim is filed.

    Seasonal Adjusted UI Rate less than or equal to 6.5%

    Maximum Number of Weeks: 14
    Maximum Benefits Payable will Equal the least of:
    14 x Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) or 1/4 of Base Period Wages

    Seasonal Adjusted UI Rate greater than 6.5% up to 7.0%

    Maximum Number of Weeks: 15
    Maximum Benefits Payable will Equal the least of:
    15 x WBA or 1/4 of Base Period wages

    Seasonal Adjusted UI Rate greater than 7.0% up to 7.5%

    Maximum Number of Weeks: 16
    Maximum Benefits Payable will Equal the least of:
    16 x WBA or 1/4 of Base Period wages

    Seasonal Adjusted UI Rate greater than 7.5% up to 8.0%

    Maximum Number of Weeks: 17
    Maximum Benefits Payable will Equal the least of:
    17 x WBA or 1/4 of Base Period wages

    Seasonal Adjusted UI Rate greater than 8.0% up to 8.5%

    Maximum Number of Weeks: 18
    Maximum Benefits Payable will Equal the least of:
    18 x WBA or 1/4 of Base Period wages

    Seasonal Adjusted UI Rate greater than 8.5% but less than 9.0%

    Maximum Number of Weeks: 19
    Maximum Benefits Payable will Equal the least of:
    19 x WBA or 1/4 of Base Period wages

    Seasonal Adjusted UI Rate 9.0% or above

    Maximum Number of Weeks: 20
    Maximum Benefits Payable will Equal the least of:
    20 x WBA or 1/4 of Base Period wages

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  • Why has the maximum number of potential UI weeks been changed?

    The Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 347 which changes the calculation method to determine the maximum number of weeks to be based upon the adjusted statewide unemployment rate in use at the time the regular UI claim is filed. The change became effective July 1, 2012.

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  • Is everyone eligible for the maximum number of weeks?

    No. The individual’s base period wages are used to determine the maximum benefits payable which may or may not qualify an individual for the maximum number of weeks. The maximum benefits payable to an individual in a benefit year is the least of the maximum number of weeks times the weekly benefit amount or one-fourth of the base period wages.

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  • How can I determine what unemployment rate is being used to establish my claim?

    An Unemployment Benefit Determination is mailed to claimants when an initial claim is filed on or after July 1, 2012. The determination will provide the rate for your claim filing period. The current rate for a specified claim filing period may also be obtained by contacting UI Customer Service at 404-232-3001 or 1-877-709-8185.

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  • If I establish a claim and the unemployment rate goes up at a later date, will my claim be recalculated to add extra weeks?

    No. An unemployment claim will be established using the unemployment rate in effect at the time of filing the claim. The claim will not be recalculated if the unemployment rate changes during the life of the claim.

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  • What do I have to do to qualify for benefits if I have earned enough money to establish a claim?

    Just earning enough money to set up a claim is not enough to receive unemployment benefits. You must also meet other eligibility conditions. You must have a decision made on the reason for separation from your last work. If your most recent job loss was not the result of a lack of work (i.e. layoff, business closure), a decision on the reason for separation is required. A department employee may conduct a telephone interview with you and your former employer to get information about the reason for your separation or any other issues which might affect your claim. A written decision will be mailed to you, and to your employer if the issue is separation. Other requirements include, but are not limited to, being able to work, being available for work, and actively seeking work.

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  • Can I draw benefits if I quit my job?

    If you quit, you may be eligible to draw benefits if you can show that you quit for good work-connected reason(s). Examples of good work-connected reasons are material change in working conditions, material change in working agreement, nonpayment for work, and similar reasons. You will not be able to draw benefits if your reason for quitting was personal even though the personal reason was a good or compelling one. The only way to know for sure whether you are eligible if you quit is to file a claim. The department cannot make a predetermination of eligibility before a claim is filed.

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  • Can I draw benefits if I was fired?

    If you were fired from your job, you will not be able to draw benefits if your former employer can show that you were fired for failure to follow rules, orders, or instructions, or for misconduct on the job. The only way to know for sure whether you are eligible if you are fired is to file a claim. The department cannot make a predetermination of eligibility before a claim is filed.

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  • Are there other requirements if I receive benefits?

    Yes. If you are awarded benefits based on your reason for separation from your last employer, you must meet other weekly requirements. You must be able to do some kind of work that is available in your area and that you are qualified to do. You must be available for work without placing undue restrictions on your availability, such as lack of child care, lack of transportation, or other restrictions. You must be actively seeking work each week and you must be looking for full-time employment. As a part of your weekly certification, you must submit three new verifiable job search contacts for each week of benefits claimed. You must not refuse any offer of suitable work or referral to suitable work without good cause.

    You must be actively registered for employment services to receive UI benefits, unless exempt by law. Georgia residents are required to register for employment services with the GDOL through Employ Georgia at employgeorgia.com. Interstate claimants must register for Employment Services with the SWA in the state where they reside.

    Employ Georgia registration is required for all individuals requesting unemployment benefits. Registration requires:

    • the establishment of an account, which must include your social security number;
    • creation or uploading of a complete résumé; and
    • designation of a default résumé as “searchable by employers.”

    If your Employ Georgia account was created without an SSN, you must call or report to your local career center to add this information to avoid delays in receiving unemployment benefits in the future. Please maintain your résumé to ensure your most current employment information is documented.

    Your Employ Georgia account becomes inactive six months from the last date the GDOL provided a service to you. If your Employ Georgia account becomes inactive, you may reactivate your account and renew your employment services registration by simply logging in at employgeorgia.com.

    You must also respond to any notices to come in for services. If you work and earn any money while you are drawing benefits, you must report all earnings for the week in which the money is earned, not for the week the money is paid. Any amount over $50 earned during a week will be deducted from your weekly benefit amount.

    Learn About Work Search Requirements

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  • Does severance pay have an effect on my benefits?

    You are usually not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits during a period covered by severance pay paid to you by your employer. The only way to know for sure whether severance pay is disqualifying is to file a claim.

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  • Does retirement pay have any effect on my benefits?

    If you are receiving a retirement pension from a base period employer, the pension may be deductible from your weekly benefit amount if your employer contributed 50% or more toward the pension fund. If the pension payment is determined to be deductible, the department will reduce your weekly benefit amount dollar for dollar by the weekly amount of the pension that is attributable to the employer. NOTE: If your pension is from an employer you worked for before the base period, it is not deductible. The receipt of Social Security is also not deductible, although you do have to be available for full-time work.

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  • How do workers' compensation payments affect my claim?

    If you are receiving Temporary Total or Temporary Partial Workers' Compensation payments, you are not eligible for unemployment insurance in Georgia. The only way to know for sure is to file a claim.

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  • How do I claim benefits each week after I file?

    Once you file your claim, you will be required to certify your eligibility for each week you claim benefits and submit your work search for each week of benefits claimed. You may claim benefits using the telephone interactive voice response system, over the Internet, or in person at a GDOL Career Center. 

    Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System
    Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payments
    Learn About Work Search Requirements
    GDOL Career Centers

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  • How will I receive my payments?

    Payments can be made by direct deposit or debit card. The preferred method is direct deposit into your personal checking or savings account. If you do not enroll in direct deposit, payments will be deposited to your Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® which works likes a standard debit card. Payments by paper checks are no longer issued.

    UI Benefit Payment Methods

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  • How many unemployment insurance benefit extension programs are available in Georgia?

    The unemployment insurance benefit extension program – Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) ended with the week ending date December 28, 2013.

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  • What should I do if my address changes?

    You must update your address with the Georgia department of Labor (GDOL) immediately. You can update your address and contact information online or in person at your local career center. 

    For your protection, your identity must be verified when you report an address change. This ensures you receive all correspondence from the GDOL regarding your unemployment benefits. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward any GDOL UI mail, even if you have completed a change of address with your post office. 

    If you have a pending appeal when your address changes, you must also notify the Appeals Tribunal by any of the following methods:

    Georgia Department of Labor
    Appeals Tribunal
    148 Andrew Young International Blvd., NE
    Suite 525
    Atlanta, Ga., 30303-1734

    Change of Address and Contact Information

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  • What is the Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®?

    The Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®, operated by GoProgram® and issued by Comerica Bank, is one of two fast and reliable methods to receive unemployment benefit payments. The card is valid for three years. Individuals eligible to receive unemployment benefits during the three-year period will not receive a new card. One free replacement card may be issued each 12-month period for lost or stolen cards.

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  • What are the benefits of having a Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®?
    • Get benefits faster. Payments are posted directly to your debit card. No waiting for the check to arrive in the mail.
    • Make purchases. Simply spend your money by presenting your debit card with a cash back option.
    • Convenient. No personal bank account is required.
    • Protection. Your card is protected by the PIN number you select.
    • Secure. Your account is FDIC insured.
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  • What do I have to do to receive a Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®?

    You will automatically receive the Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® if you do not enroll in direct deposit; no other action is required to receive a card.

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  • I have received my new Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®, what actions should I take to begin using the card?

    You should immediately call UI Debit MasterCard® Customer Service at 1.888.929.2460 or visit the GoProgram® website to activate your debit card account. Be sure to check your card balance before using the card. Do not spend more than the amount of funds posted to your account. 

    Go Program®

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  • Does receiving a Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® mean I am eligible to receive unemployment benefits?

    Receipt of the Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® does not guarantee that you meet unemployment eligibility criteria established by the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL).

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  • What are the fees associated with using the Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®?

    Review the fee schedule below and thoroughly read the Terms of Use included in your card package to ensure you understand any transaction and service fees that may apply to your card. These fees can be avoided with careful use of your card. Many services are available free of charge when using or managing your account such as: deposit notifications, purchases wherever MasterCard® is accepted, cash back with purchases, unlimited MoneyPass ATM, and bank teller cash withdrawals. However, Fees may apply if you use an out-of-network ATM.

    Download this pdf file.Fee Schedule

    Download this pdf file.Fee Schedule Spanish

    Download this pdf file.UI Debit MasterCard® - Comerica Card Terms of Use

    Download this pdf file.UI Debit MasterCard® - Comerica Card Terms of Use (ajeta de Comerica Términos de uso)

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  • Can I deposit other money into my Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® account?

    No, the Georgia UI Way2Go MasterCard® can only be used to receive unemployment benefit payments.

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  • What should I do if my Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® is lost or stolen?

    If your Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® is lost or stolen, you must immediately notify UI Debit MasterCard Customer Service at 1.888.929.2460.

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  • What is my responsibility as a cardholder to secure my debit card account?

    You are responsible for securing your Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® issued by Comerica Bank. Securing the card means that the card and the PIN are never kept together, the card is kept in a secure location, and the PIN is not known by anyone but you. If your card security is compromised, you must also change your unemployment insurance claim PIN immediately even if you are not currently filing weekly claims for benefits. If you fail to report the loss of the card and change the PIN immediately, or fail to secure the card, you will be liable for claims made and money removed from the card.

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  • Whom should I call with questions about my Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard® account?

    You should call UI Debit MasterCard® Customer Service at 1.888.929.2460 or visit the GoProgram® website for information about your debit card account.

    Go Program®

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  • How do I dispute a transaction?

    All account disputes should be directed to the UI Debit MasterCard® Customer Service at 1.888.929.2460. You should contact UI Debit MasterCard® Customer Service as soon as you can if you think your transaction activity or receipt is wrong, or if you need more information about a transfer on the transaction activity or receipt.

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  • Whom should I contact if the amount of the unemployment benefits payment credited to my account is incorrect?

    You should contact your local career center to inquire about the amount of unemployment benefits credited to your Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®.

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  • How do I change my method of payment from a debit card?

    You can enroll in, change, or cancel direct deposit. A PIN is required. 

    UI Benefit Payment Methods

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  • Are unemployment benefits taxable?

    Yes. Any unemployment insurance benefits you receive are fully taxable income if you are required to file a tax return. At the time you file your claim, you may elect to have the department withhold state and/or federal tax on the benefits you receive. You may change this withholding election one time during the year. The department will send you a 1099-G form at the end of the calendar year showing how much in benefits you received during the previous year. It also shows the amount of taxes, if any, that were withheld. You should use this form when you file your income taxes to report benefits received and any taxes withheld by the department. Questions about filing should be directed to the IRS, to the State Department of Revenue, or to a tax consultant.

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  • I received two determinations on my claim. One says I can draw benefits and the other says I cannot. Which is correct?

    The department will release a determination on each separate issue on your claim. As a result, you may sometimes receive more than one determination. A decision imposing any kind of disqualification takes precedence over a decision allowing benefits. For example, you could receive a decision allowing benefits because you were laid off due to lack of work, but be ineligible because you do not have child care to enable you to look for another job.

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  • What if I disagree with the decision made on my claim?

    The only way for a decision to be reviewed and potentially reversed is to file an appeal. You have the right to file an appeal of any decision made by the department on your claim. The appeal rights expire 15 days after the date the decision is released. The Commissioner of Labor does not have the authority to intervene in the appeals process. If the decision is on your separation from work, your employer also has the right to appeal. An administrative hearing officer will conduct the appeal.

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  • How do I file an appeal?

    An appeal request must be in writing and can be submitted online, by email, fax, or hand delivery. Go to File an Appeal to learn more.

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  • How long does it take to get an appeal?

    Once an appeal is filed, it usually takes from 2 - 2 1/2 weeks for a hearing to take place. The department is required to send written notice of the hearing time, date, and all issues to be discussed. This notice must be mailed at least 10 days before the hearing takes place. A written decision is mailed to all interested parties.

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  • Should I continue to file my weekly certifications while waiting for the appeal hearing/decision?

    Yes. If you are successful on appeal, you will not get paid for any weeks for which you did not file.

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  • What if I disagree with the decision of the hearing officer?

    You may appeal to the Board of Review. The Board is a three-member panel appointed by the Governor. The Board reviews the entire record of the hearing held by the administrative hearing officer and all other relevant materials. The Board does not hold in-person hearings and does not take new evidence or testimony. The Board reviews the case and either affirms, modifies, or reverses the decision of the hearing officer. The Board's written decision is mailed to all interested parties.

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  • How do I file an appeal with the Board of Review?

    The appeal must be in writing and it should be sent directly to the Board of Review (the address is on the decision received from the Appeals Tribunal). If your appeal is sent to the career center, or appealed in person at the career center, processing will be delayed until it can be forwarded.

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  • Can I appeal the Board of Review's decision?

    The Board's decision may be appealed to the Superior Court of the county in which the work was performed. A petition for review must be filed with the court. The department does not file these appeals. If the work on which the claim was based was performed out of state, the appeal of the decision of the Board of Review must be filed in Fulton County Superior Court.

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  • What happens if I am being paid unemployment benefits and I lose the appeal?

    If the Appeals Tribunal or the Board of Review reverses a determination that allowed benefits, you will be required to repay any benefits received.

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  • What is the fee schedule for the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Prepaid Debit Card?

    The fee schedules for the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Prepaid Debit Card are located at the following links:

    Download this pdf file.English
    Download this pdf file.Spanish

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