The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) handles all unemployment claims in Virginia. The unemployment program in Virginia is meant to provide financial assistance to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The benefits are funded by taxes paid by employers as a part of the Virginia Unemployment Compensation Act.
In order to qualify for unemployment insurance in Virginia, you must have earned wages from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law. You must have earned enough wages over 12-month period (the base period) to qualify. If you earn enough wages, you must also:
- Have lost your job through no fault of your own
- Be able to work and available to work when you file your claim
- Be a US citizen or legally authorized to work in the US
You’ll be required to register an account with a job search service, or the VEC when you file. If the state awards benefits, you will have to show a good faith effort to look for work.
Eligibility Requirements Explained
Lost Job Through No Fault of Your Own
Your actions or decisions cannot be the cause of your separation from employment. Laid off workers are a prime example of this. Quitting for personal reasons or getting fired for rule violations are examples of disqualifying circumstances.
Able and Available
You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file your claim. You must also be available to accept an offer of suitable employment. “Suitable employment” is a job you are capable of performing through training or experience and at a salary commiserate with prior employment.
You need not live in Virginia to be eligible for benefits, but you must be a US citizen. Non-citizens must be able to prove that the US government has given permission for them to work in the US.
Wage Requirements and the Base Period
To qualify for benefits in Virginia, you must have earned enough wages from a covered employer during a 12-month period called the base period. The base period is the first four of the last five months prior to your filing the initial claim.
You must have earned a minimum of $3,000 in two quarters of your base period in order to be eligible for benefits.
Calculating Benefit Payments
The VEC will use your base period wages to determine how much you’ll receive each week, your weekly benefit amount (WBA). The state will use the two highest earning quarters in your base period to calculate this figure. High quarter earnings also determine the number of weeks you can claim benefits during the benefit year, from 12 to 26 weeks.
The current maximum WBA is $350 and the minimum is $60. You will have to have earned at least $18,900.01 to get the max WBA.
You’ll receive a wage determination in the mail. This does not guarantee you’ll be receiving benefits. Look it over carefully. If you notice any errors or simply disagree with the determination, you may request that the VEC look again. Call the VEC at 1-866-832-2363 and prepare to provide evidence of your claim.
During times of high unemployment, the state or federal government will authorize additional weeks of benefit payments on top of the mandated maximums. Currently, there are no extended benefit payments available.
How to apply
Like most states, Virginia allows you to file new claims by phone or online. In order to file by phone, you must call:
- New claim: 1-866-832-2363
After registering with the online site, you can use this site to update your personal information, enter employment information, check your eligibility, select a payment method, and access more information about your benefits.
Before you start to file your claim, make sure you have the following information available:
- Your social security number
- Information for all of your employers in the past 18 months (names, addresses, dates of employment, phone numbers)
- For union workers, the name and number of your local union hall
- If you are not a U.S citizen, your alien registration number
- Your routing number and bank account number if you wish to receive direct deposit
You may also choose to file for unemployment by visiting one of your local VEC offices. A list of all of the offices can be found here.
Weekly Certifications and Maintaining Eligibility
You must maintain your eligibility status during the period you receive unemployment. You must also show that you are making a good faith effort to find a new job. The VEC monitors this by requiring you to file a weekly claim, also called “certifying” your claim each week so that you receive your payment that week.
You will file the weekly claim just as you filed the initial claim, either over the phone or online.
Weekly claim number: 1-800-897-5630
The VEC will ask a number of questions meant to determine whether you remain eligible for benefits. The questions will cover a number of topics including:
- Whether you are able and available to work
- Whether you are looking for work
- Whether you have refused an offer of employment
- Whether you have earned any reportable wages or income
- Whether you have participated in any training programs
If you have earned wages, you must report them during the week you earned them, not the week you were paid.
If you refuse a job offer, you must report it to the VEC. Someone will decide whether you refused a suitable offer. If so, you may be disqualified from receiving benefits.
Hours of Availability for INTERNET and VRS:
Sunday (9 a.m. – Midnight)
Monday (4:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
Tuesday (7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
Wednesday (7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
Thursday (7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
Friday (7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
Saturday & Holidays (9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
In some instances, your employer may have to reduce your hours significantly from full-time to part-time. You may file for partial unemployment in this case. If you wish to collect partial benefits, your employer must provide a Statement of Partial Unemployment that states your wages for every week you wish to claim partial benefits.
You will still have to qualify for benefits and the VEC will determine a WBA for you.
To qualify for partial benefits, you must complete the form and send it to:
VEC Benefit Pament/Charge Unit
P.O. Box 1779
Richmond, VA 23218
The form must be mailed within 14 days of receiving it form your employer. You cannot file for partial benefits during weeks in which you don’t have enough hours because you missed days or did not work all of the hours offered to you.
Part-time Work and Receiving Benefits
This situation is different from partial unemployment. You may lose a full-time job and find part-time work later on. You can work part-time and still receive benefits as long as the wages you report don’t equal or exceed your WBA.
If you earn more than $50 during a benefit week, the state will deduct a dollar-for-dollar amount from your WBA. You may see this $50 amount called an “earning allowance.”
Job Search Requirements
The state requires that you make a good faith effort to find work. You must make verifiable job contacts each week. This means you should apply for jobs with a contact available, or your research should determine who it is you are contacting to get hired. Keep records; the VEC may audit your job search efforts at any time.
- Month, day, year of contact;
- Complete name of employer contacted;
- Complete address (street, P.O. Box number, city, state, zip code) of employer contacted;
- First and last name of the individual for the employer/company with whom you talked;
- Telephone number of the employer; fax number; and e-mail or web address;
- Type of work or position for which you applied; and
- Result of contact.
Reasons for Denial of Benefits
If you don’t meet the wage requirements, you will not qualify for benefits. As noted earlier, you will be able to request a redetermination of your base period wages. You may also file an appeal.
You may meet the wage requirements; however, a VEC examiner may still deny benefits because of the cause of your separation from work.
If you meet the wage requirement, the state will inquire about the reasons for separation from work. If you quit for a cause unrelated to work or personal reasons, the state will deny benefits. If your employer dismissed you for “misconduct,” the state will deny benefits.
Examples of disqualifying reasons to quit are generally easy to figure. If you just “got tired” of the job and quit, that’s a personal reason. If you quit because you couldn’t get afterschool care for a school-age child, that’s a reason unrelated to work, even though finding child care may be a “good cause” for you. The legal standard is a “good cause connected to the work.”
The “misconduct” standard is defined as some action or inaction showing a disregard for your employer’s interests. Repeated violations of a rule after receiving repeated warnings from your boss is a clear example of misconduct connected to work. Even a one-time violation may fit the definition of misconduct.
Quit and Still Eligible
If you quit work for some good cause connected to your job, you may be eligible for benefits even though you made a decision to quit. If your employer did something or failed to do something to cause you to quit, like refusing to take care of a health hazard, the examiner may determine your employer forced your hand.
In these cases, you will have to show that you tried to work things out with your employer. You will also have to show that the conditions that forced you out in fact existed.
Fired but Still Eligible
Employers may dismiss you for various reasons. However, for those reasons to lead to a denial of benefits, they must be “misconduct connected to the work.” “Misconduct” is actions that show a disregard for the employer’s interests.
Usually, violations of policy and rules will be misconduct. An employer may dismiss an employee for reasons that aren’t misconduct, like a one-time mistake in judgement. Rarely, a one-time violation of a rule may not be misconduct.
Failing to act at the VEC’s request can cause them to end your benefits, either temporarily or for a year. You may even have to reopen your claim or you may be barred from receiving benefits for a period.
If you don’t look for work or become unavailable to work (disabled, returning to school), those issues may affect payment.
What Happens When the VEC Denies Benefits
Virginia allows claimants to file an appeal online. Carefully review your determination letter you receive in the mail prior to filing your claim. You will have 30 days to file your appeal. Find out how by reading our guide to filing an unemployment appeal in Virginia.
Find your VEC local office
Call VEC Administration office in Richmond
VEC Central office address
VEC Central Office
703 E. Main St
VEC Mailing Address
P.O. Box 1358
Richmond, VA 23218-1358
File new claim or weekly certify online
Register for Job Services