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Lack of Reported Wages

In some cases, workers may not be eligible for unemployment benefits because they have not earned enough wages, have not worked enough hours, or worked for employers that were not required to pay unemployment insurance taxes. Here are answers to some common questions about reported wages.

Hood River Bridge crosses the Columbia River with snow-capped Mount Hood in the background.

Why is my claim not valid?

A claim is not valid if it does not meet the minimum wage or hour requirements established by law.

Here are some reasons you may not qualify for a valid claim:

  • You did not have enough work to qualify
  • You have received benefits before and haven’t worked enough since your prior claim was filed
  • Not all of your wages are showing

It is important to review your Wage and Potential Benefit Report and contact us if you think wages are missing or are incorrect. We can start a wage investigation and then add missing wages that are usable. Be prepared to give us proof of your missing earnings.

You did not have enough prior work to qualify

If the hours and wages reported by your employers are correct, it could be that you:

  • Did not have $1,000 in earnings and total earnings of one and one-half times the wages in the highest quarter of your base year.
  • Did not work 500 hours or more during your base year.

The base year is a one-year period made up of the first four of the last five completed quarters. It’s based on the date you file your application for unemployment benefits, not the date you become unemployed.

If you do not have enough work in your base year, but you have more recent work and earnings, you may qualify for an alternate base year claim. Use the Contact Us form or call us at 877-345-3484 to start a review of your work history.

I have received benefits before

If you received benefits from an earlier claim and did not work since filing that claim, you may not qualify for a new claim. If you received benefits from a prior claim, you must work and earn six times the weekly benefit amount of your new claim before you can establish a new valid claim. This work must have happened after you file your previous claim and before you file the new claim. It must also be from covered employment.

Not all of my wages are showing

Some types of employment do not count to establish an unemployment insurance claim. To be usable, the employer must be required to pay unemployment insurance taxes on your pay. Some common types of work that may not be used towards an unemployment claim are:

  • Farm work – Some farms do not pay unemployment taxes.
  • Self-employment – People who are independent contractors or own their own businesses usually do not pay unemployment insurance taxes.
  • Student employment – Wages paid to students working at a school while also a student at that school may be excluded.
  • Real estate brokers – Commission-based wages do not apply in some cases.

While these jobs may be excluded from determining your claim amount, if you did any work during the week you claim, you must report it.

Other types of wages may count but are not automatically added to your claim. These include:

  • Active duty service for the military – You will need to provide a copy of your DD214.
  • Federal civilian employment – We will ask the federal agency to send us your wage details. You can also send us your pay stubs.
  • Out-of-state employment – We will ask the other state to send your wage information to us.

If you forgot to include this or other information on your new claim application, use the Contact Us form or call us at 1-877-345-3484 to add it.

What if I disagree with the wages in my base year or the outcome of a wage investigation?

If you disagree with the wage amounts used for your claim’s base year, you can appeal your Wage and Potential Benefit Report. Use the Contact Us form to request an appeal or call us at 1-877-345-3484 if you need assistance.

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