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Unemployment Benefits in North Dakota

Last Verified: July 2017

A recent study by a Wall Street firm found that if you’re misfortunate enough to lose your job and are eligible to receive unemployment benefits, North Dakota is the best place for you to be. 63% of the unemployed are receiving benefits. The benefits themselves cover over half of the recipients prior wages. It may seem that you have little to worry about if you are unemployed in North Dakota. However, it would be prudent to familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures for collecting benefits in the state.

Eligibility for Unemployment in ND

Job Service North Dakota (JSND) runs the state’s unemployment insurance program. JSND requires that applicants meet a monetary eligibility standard to qualify for benefits. To qualify, you must have earned wages from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law during the year prior to your filing a claim. You must have earned enough wages during that period to qualify.

If the JSND finds you earned enough wages, you must also:

  • Have lost your job through no fault of your own
  • Be a US citizen or legally authorized to work in the US
  • Be able and available to work

You must register with the JSND job services program within 10 days of filing a claim. You must maintain your eligibility status if the JSND approves your claim.

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Lost Your Job

You can’t be at fault for losing your job and collect unemployment. The program is meant to benefit those who wish to work, but for reasons beyond their control (other than disability), they cannot. If your employer closed a business, moved a plant or simply had no more work for you to do, you may be eligible for benefits.

Legally Authorized

You must be able to prove you are authorized by law to work in the US. You may show an alien registration card.

Able and Available

You must be mentally and physically able to work when you file your claim. You must be available to accept a suitable job offer. A suitable job is one that you’re trained to do or capable of doing, and the pay should be similar to that which you’ve received in the past. The longer you go without work, the less important it becomes that the job you accept be “suitable.”

Monetary Qualification and the Base Period

JSND will observe your wages over a 12-month period called the base period. The base period is the first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing a claim.

unemployment base period
This chart shows the base period.

The JSND will use the quarters where you made the most money (“high quarter”) to determine qualification.

Calculating Benefit Payments

The JSND also uses the high quarter wages to determine how much you’ll receive in payments each week, the weekly benefit amount (WBA). Take the two and ½ quarters where you earned the most money and add them together. Divide that number by 65. That calculation gives you an estimate of your WBA.

You may also use the benefit calculator at the JSND website. It’s on the “benefit estimator” link.

The ND state legislature sets a minimum and maximum. It may change annually, and any new rate will begin in July.

When you file a claim, the JSND will mail a Notice of Monetary Determination. It will tell you whether you meet the wage requirement, and if so, it will give an estimated WBA. It will inform you of how many weeks you may receive benefits. This notice does not mean you are otherwise eligible for benefits.

You may be able to request a redetermination of your wages if you believe the state made an error. Be prepared to offer proof.

Duration of Benefits

Depending on your base period wages, you may receive benefits from 12 to 26 weeks. The JSND will set a total amount you may receive, which is your WBA times X number of weeks. Once you use up all your benefits or weeks, you cannot receive more.

During times of high unemployment, the state or federal government may approve additional weeks of benefit payments for all recipients. There is no such program available.

How to Apply for Unemployment in ND

You may apply for benefits online at  UI ICE, the claimant portal. You’ll use this site for a variety of tasks while you receive benefits.

You may also file an initial claim via telephone using the automated telephone system by calling (701) 328-4995.

Both the online and telephone systems go offline for maintenance daily between 10PM and midnight.

However you file, you’ll need to collect and present the following:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Name, address and telephone number of all employers for whom you worked in the last 18 months or since last registering
  • Wage you are willing to accept
  • Union Local name and number
  • DD214 member copy 4 (proof of military service and wages)
  • SF8 and SF50 (proof of federal civilian service and wages)
  • Your alien identification number (non-U.S. citizen authorized to work in the U.S.)

Weekly Certifications and Maintaining Eligibility

The state wants to make sure you maintain the eligibility status you had when they awarded you benefits. They also want to emphasize the importance of looking for work. To monitor your eligibility, the state requires you to file a claim each week, also called “filing a continuing claim” or “certifying a claim.”

You’ll certify using UI ICE or by telephone. The process is similar to filing an initial claim, except that you’ll have to answer questions about your current status. You’ll be asked:

  • Whether you are able and available to work
  • Whether you started or quit a new job
  • Whether you refused an offer of suitable employment
  • Whether you earned any reportable income or wages

You’ll be asked other questions as well. All of these questions will determine whether you get benefits that week.

You should keep filing weekly no matter what your situation is. You should begin certifying the week after you file even though the JSND has not approved your claim. If the state denies your claim, continue filing if you plan to appeal.

Part-Time Work and Benefits

You may file a claim if your employer reduces your hours and wages from full to part-time. You may also start a part-time job while receiving benefits. However, the amount you earn will have a direct effect on your WBA.

The state will deduct money from your WBA based on how much you earn. You may earn up to 60% of your WBA before they begin a dollar-for-dollar deduction. If you earn more than your WBA, you will not receive payment that week.

Report your earnings when you certify. Report the earnings for the week when you performed the work, not when you were paid. The state monitors employment and wages and will penalize you for failure to report earnings.

Work Search Requirements

You must make a good faith effort to find work while you collect unemployment. For the JSND, that means that you make four job contacts per week. The JSND may check on your job searches monthly, or more frequently if necessary. If they find you are not making a good faith effort, they may hold or stop your benefit payments.

Keep a record of all your contacts. Make sure you keep the name and address of your contact and note the date when you made it. If a JSND worker checks, there should be enough specific information for them to do so.

Reasons for Denial of Benefits

The JSND will mail a Notice of Monetary Determination within five days of your initial claim. If you do not meet the monetary eligibility requirements, the state will deny your claim for benefits. If you do meet the requirement, the state may deny your claim based on issues related to your separation from work. If your claim is successful, the state may suspend benefits or deny a weekly claim because you failed to remain eligible.

Separation Issues

The examiner will look at the circumstances of how your employment ended. If you quit, the examiner will check to see whether you quit with good cause. If not, they will deny your claim. If you were discharged, they will look for evidence of misconduct. If the examiner believes such evidence exists, they will deny benefits.


A “good cause” to quit is one that shows something your employer did or failed to do left you with no other possible course of action but to quit. If your employer failed to pay you for an unreasonable period, that may be a good cause to quit. If your employer forced you to work in unsafe conditions, you may be eligible to receive benefits in spite of quitting work.

You will have to show that you made a reasonable, good faith effort to keep your job. Did you speak with your supervisor or Human Resources officer about the situation? Did you try repeatedly to remedy the situation before quitting?


Misconduct is defined as behavior that shows a disregard for your employer’s interests. For example, coming to work late frequently in spite of warnings from your boss will show the claims examiner that you disregarded your employer’s authority and interests. However, if you were late to work because of a serious illness and then your boss fired you soon after, your conduct may not rise to the level of misconduct in that case.

The decision whether to deny benefits based on misconduct is fact-dependent in some cases. You will have to show, for example, that the action that got you fired was a simple mistake in judgement or a situation beyond your control. Your boss may be able to fire you for many reasons; however, those reasons may not be misconduct as defined by unemployment law.

In determining whether you caused your separation from work, the examiner will contact your former employer for their side of the story. They may accept the employer’s word in many cases. You may have to argue your case on appeal.

What Happens When the State Denies a Claim

The JSND will mail a notice of eligibility determination after you file a claim. This may take two weeks or more. It will inform you of whether the state has approved your claim. If the state denies your claim, you may appeal the decision. You will have a limited time in which to request an appeal, so file your request as soon as possible. The JSND’s notice will include instructions on how to file an appeal.

Read more about the appeal process at our page on unemployment appeals in North Dakota.




Job Service North Dakota
PO Box 5507
Bismarck, ND 58506-5507

Central Office: 1-701-328-2825
TTY Relay ND: 800-366-6888
FAX: 701-328-4000


A page where you can find videos and guides on UI in North Dakota

The locations of the local JSND offices near you in the state