Unemployment Insurance Benefits

State unemployment insurance benefits may be available to employees affected by temporary layoffs, leave without pay through the UO benefits extension program, or other reductions that impact wages. Unemployment insurance eligibility and amounts are determined by the State of Oregon Employment Department, and we cannot say how the State is likely to review a claim.

New state and federal rules have been adopted to address employment changes and lost earnings for reasons related to COVID-19.


Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our employees (or their family members) may be eligible for full or partial unemployment benefits. The new federal law called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act expands the traditional reasons to qualify for unemployment benefits to help those affected by the virus.

An individual may now qualify for unemployment benefits if they are fully or partially unable or unavailable to work due to one of the following reasons:

  • They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms of it and are seeking a diagnosis.
  • They are living with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • They are providing care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • They are quarantined or have been advised to self-quarantine.
  • They are providing care for a child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.
  • They had to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Their place of employment is closed due to COVID-19.
  • They were scheduled to start a new job but cannot due to COVID-19.
  • They have become the major support of their household or breadwinner because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • They are self-employed, seeking part-time employment or do not have sufficient work history to otherwise qualify for regular unemployment benefits.

Applicants will not qualify if they:

  • Have the ability to telework with pay; or
  • Are receiving paid sick leave or other paid-leave benefits, regardless of whether the individual meets a qualification described above.

These expanded reasons to qualify for benefits expire on December 31, 2020. Additional information regarding the CARES Act, including FAQs, can be found on the Employment Department website.

For assistance or more information about filing an unemployment insurance (UI) claim, please review the Employment Department website, the Claimant Handbook, or email the Employment Department UI Help mailbox. Due to extended wait times for phone calls, filing claims online is recommended.

Lost Wages Assistance Program

The Lost Wages Assistance Program (LWA) is a temporary emergency program funded by FEMA. It provides an additional $300 per week to people who are out of work and receiving unemployment benefits due to COVID-19. LWA is retroactive to eligible claimants for the weeks between July 26 and September 5. The Oregon Employment Department plans to start providing LWA funds to qualified Oregonians by the end of September.

You automatically qualify for LWA if you:

  • Have received unemployment benefits from July 26, 2020, through September 5, 2020.
  • Self-certify they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

FEMA has notified states that the final week of LWA payments will be for the week ending September 5. Because the FEMA funds were limited, we cannot extend payments beyond that date. If you become unemployed after the week ending August 1, 2020, you can only receive LWA for weeks when you qualify for unemployment benefits and meet LWA eligibility requirements.

Self-Certification Required

To meet FEMA requirements for the program, claimants must certify that they are receiving unemployment benefits for COVID-19-related reasons. Self-certification is a new one-time step for people receiving regular UI, PEUC, or Extended Benefits. For claimants receiving PUA, there is no need to self-certify: you self-certified when you first applied for PUA benefits.

To self-certify for LWA, use the Online Claims System. The option to certify over the phone will be available soon. However, we strongly encourage you to certify online to avoid long delays on our phone lines. Visit the step-by-step instructions on how to self-certify for guidance.

If you have questions, reach out the OED using their contact form.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

NEW: The extra $600 unemployment benefit has expired. Will I still get it?

The federal CARES Act provide an extra $600 for each week you're eligible for unemployment benefits from march 29 through July 25, 2020. Unless the law changes, any new or ongoing claims for unemployment benefits starting July 26 or later will not have the extra $600 added.

If you were eligible for unemployment benefits during the weeks when the $600 was available, you will still get it for your eligible weeks when your claim is processed and payment is issued.

I received a letter from the Employment Department stating that they cannot pay benefits because of a question regarding my eligibility for benefits during a school recess period. What does this mean?

This is a standard letter that is being sent to many school or university employees and does not mean that your claim will be denied. If your claim is actually denied, you should receive a notice of denial from the Oregon Employment Department (OED) that includes the reason for the denial.

According to state guidance, school employees who typically do not work over the summer (e.g., 9-month employees) may not be eligible for unemployment benefits during the summer recess, if they have a reasonable assurance of returning to work after the break. Reasonable assurance is subject to OED interpretation, but in general terms means that you have been assured you will return to work following the summer break.

This limitation should not apply to 12-month employees who would be working over the summer had they not been on the extended benefits program. The University has informed the Employment Department of those employees who had an expectation of work for 12 months.

The University cannot control how the Employment Department assesses UI claims. We encourage employees to explore their appeal right if they disagree with the Employment Department’s decision.

When can I file an unemployment claim? Do I have to wait until after my last day of work?

You can file a claim at any time. It is recommended that you file the claim in advance of your final day of work, if possible, to allow for increased processing times.

Do I need to wait until my claim is approved before I begin submitting my weekly claim reports?

No. It is recommended that you do not wait until your claim is approved to start filing your weekly claim reports. You can start making your weekly claim reports as early as the Sunday after you submit your application, even if your claim has not yet been processed.

I have questions about how to complete the claim application. Where can I get assistance?

The Employment Department website has information about how to complete the claim application. Questions not answered by reviewing the Employment Department website or the Claimant Handbook should be emailed to the Employment Department UI Help mailbox.

Can UO contact the Employment Department to help me get my claim approved or to get it evaluated faster?

No. UO isn’t involved in the Employment Department’s claims process or decisions. If you have questions or concerns about your claim or claim status, please review the Employment Department website, the Claimant Handbook, or email the Employment Department UI Help mailbox.

What other resources are available to me if I am facing financial hardship?

The City of Eugene has a website that lists a variety of Community Resources that are available, including food and housing support, as well as other programs and services. Currently enrolled UO students may be eligible for the Student in Crisis Fund to help students deal with serious financial disruptions related to the national response to COVID-19. Information about the fund and the application can be found on the Dean of Students website. In addition, Emergency CARES grants are available to students. Students are encouraged to check their eligibility and apply for the emergency grants.

I heard that a temporary rule was recently passed that expanded unemployment benefits. Where can I get more information?

The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020 and provides an extension to regular unemployment benefits called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Information regarding the temporary rule and FAQs can be found on the Employment Department website. In addition, Emergency CARES grants are available to students. Students are encouraged to check their eligibility and apply for the emergency grants.

Are student employees eligible for unemployment benefits?

In most cases, the state of Oregon has historically not paid unemployment benefits to full-time students. However, some student employees may qualify for Oregon unemployment insurance benefits. Student employees may always file a claim to see if they qualify for benefits as determined by the Oregon Employment Department.

If a student employee believes that they may have extenuating circumstances or qualify for an exception, we recommend that they contact the Oregon Employment Department. Please note, the state of Oregon has relaxed some rules regarding such benefits due to COVID-19. The new rules allow for payment of benefits in new situations, such as if an employee is forced to quit work or is unable to currently search for work due to certain new qualifying COVID-19-related reasons. The new rules are available here: https://govstatus.egov.com/ORUnemployment_COVID19.

To file for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19, student employees should follow the instructions available at this link: https://govstatus.egov.com/ui-benefits/benefits.