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COVID-19

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Resources for Workers and Businesses on COVID-19

Updated October 22, 2020

Governor Tate Reeves signed Executive Order 1510 on July 24, 2020. This new Executive Order replaces Executive Order 1502 that was signed by the Governor on June 26, 2020.

Click here to view the full Executive Order.

For an explanation of the provisions of Executive Order 1510, click here.


What information do I need to file an Unemployment Claim?
Your work history information for the past 18 months including employer names, addresses, phone numbers, the reason for separation, and dates of employment;
your current contact information;
your driver’s license or state ID number; and
your Social Security Card.

How do I apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits or get more information about the process?

To file an Unemployment Claim, visit the MDES website at www.mdes.ms.gov or call the MDES Contact Center at 1-888-844-3577 or 1-888-772-0061.

Online filing is encouraged! A claim may be filed on-line at www.mdes.ms.gov twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week. Click here for online Unemployment Services.

 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

FAQ's for Workers

COVID-19 FAQ's for Workers

FAQ's for Employers

CARE’S ACT FAQ's

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) FAQ's

LosT Wages Assistance FAQ's

Are Unemployment benefits taxable?


More Resources and Information

Rapid Response: for Laid-off Workers

COVID-19 Press Releases and Media Appearances

Explaining Executive Order 1510

ReSkill MS: New Skills = New Careers



 

Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19

Mississippi Department of Employment Security announces that Mississippi workers who are not able to work due to COVID-19 will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits. These temporary measures will help relieve the financial hardship of temporary layoffs by making unemployment benefits available to individuals whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19. This helps not only individuals but also employers by helping them retain their workforce and stabilizing local economies.


Explaining Executive Order 1510

 

Below is an explanation of the provisions of Executive Order 1510, which was issued by the Governor on July 24, 2020. The provisions are set forth below to provide clarification on certain points:

  • This new Executive Order replaces Executive Order 1502 that was signed by the Governor on June 26, 2020.

  • Normally, there is a one-week waiting period after you are deemed eligible for unemployment compensation (or “benefits”) before you can be paid benefits. This means that under normal circumstances, you would not receive benefits for the first week after you file your claim. However, due to the COVID-19 Emergency, anyone who files a claim for benefits between March 8, 2020, and December 26, 2020, will be eligible to receive benefits the first week of their claim, without having to wait an extra week.

  • In order to receive federal emergency administrative grant money, MDES must require all employers to provide notification of the availability of unemployment compensation to each employee individually at the time of separation of employment.

Click here to view the Executive Order 1510 signed on July 24, 2020.

 


Expired Provisions

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: I lost my job due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Am I still qualified for unemployment after September 26, 2020?

A: Yes, if you certified that you lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still be qualified for unemployment after September 26. Determinations of eligibility will be made on a case-by-case basis.


 
Q: I am currently working part-time and earning $100 each week which I report on my weekly certifications.   In past weeks I have been able to receive my full weekly benefit amount of $235 in addition to my part time earnings.   With expiration of the $200 earnings allowance provision in Executive Order 1510, how will this affect my weekly benefits for the week ending October 3,2020 forward?

A: For the week ending October 3, 2020 and forward, any earnings above $40 will be deducted from your weekly benefit amount.    For example, if you report $100 in earnings, MDES will deduct $60 from your weekly benefit amount resulting in a partial payment of benefits for that week totaling $175.   You should continue to report your hours worked and the gross pay for those hours in the same manner and the appropriate deductions will be made.

 


Below is an explanation of the expired provisions of Executive Order 1502 and 1510, which was replaced by Executive Order 1510 on July, 24, 2020.

 

Provision 3

Normally, to become eligible for benefits, you must conduct an active work search each week and the details of this work search must be provided on weekly certifications. However, due to the COVID-19 emergency, the work search requirement was suspended from March 8, 2020 until August 8, 2020.   Effective August 9, 2020 and beginning with the weekly certification for the week ending August 15, 2020, the weekly work search requirement was reinstated.   Therefore, weekly benefits are subject to denial for weeks in which an adequate work search was not conducted. This provision has expired.

 

Provision 4

Normally, to become eligible for benefits, you must show that you are physically able and available for full-time work.  These requirements were temporarily relaxed for claims filed beginning March 9, 2020 through September 26, 2020 in consideration of the COVID-19 emergency.  Effective September 27, 2020 and beginning with the weekly certification for the week ending October 3, 2020, the requirement that an individual be physically able and available for full-time work in order to be eligible for regular unemployment benefits will resume.   Therefore, weeks in which an individual is not able and available for work will be subject to investigation and denial. Eligibility will be determined on the specific details of each case. This provision has expired.

 

Provision 5

Normally, MDES law allows up to $40 in earnings prior to deductions being made to a claimant’s weekly benefit amount.   This allowable earnings amount was increased to $200 for weeks of unemployment beginning May 3, 2020 and ending September 26, 2020 to aid Mississippians in the reopening and reemployment process amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.   Effective September 27, 2020 and beginning with the week ending October 3, 2020, the standard $40 earnings allowance will resume.  This means any earnings in excess of $40 will be deducted from the weekly benefit amount and that gross earnings totaling $40 more than the weekly benefit amount will be considered excessive earnings for that week. During weeks of excessive earnings, the individual will not be entitled to a benefit payment. This provision expired.

 

Provision 6

Normally, Employer contributions are due on or before the last day of the month that follows the end of each quarter. However, due to the COVID-19 Emergency, First Quarter contributions will not be due until July 31, 2020. This provision expired.

 

Provision 7

Normally, Employers must timely file wage reports and timely pay contributions or suffer penalties. However, Employers affected by COVID-19 will not be penalized for any late filed reports or late contribution payments until July 31, 2020. This provision has expired.

 

Provision 8

Normally, MDES must determine eligibility for benefits based on job separations occurring throughout the eighteen months preceding the effective date of an unemployment claim.   The exceptions to this being job separations after which there is evidence of subsequent employment and earnings totaling at least eight times the established weekly benefit amount.   In response to the COVID-19 emergency, this requirement was relaxed so that eligibility would be determined on the most recent job separation only for claims filed between March 8, 2020 and September 26, 2020.   Effective with claims filed September 27, 2020 and later, MDES will resume determining eligibility based on all job separations occurring in the eighteen months preceding the effective date of a claim.   This provision has expired.

 


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FAQ’s for Workers


Q. How do I apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits or get more information about the process?

A. To file an Unemployment Claim, visit the MDES website at www.mdes.ms.gov or call the MDES Contact Center at 1-888-844-3577 or 1-888-772-0061.

Online filing is encouraged! A claim may be filed on-line at www.mdes.ms.gov twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week. Click here for online Unemployment Services.

 

Q: Once I file my claim, do I need to do anything else?

A: TO MAINTAIN ELIGIBILITY: You must timely file a weekly certification online at www.mdes.ms.gov or via the MDES mobile app, 2FileUI. The UI Online System and mobile app are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can download the 2FileUI app here: https://mdes.ms.gov/2fileui

To file a weekly certification using the UI Online System and mobile app you will need to establish a user ID and password.

Each week starts at 12:01 am on Sunday and ends at midnight on the following Saturday. Your weekly certification should be filed timely, as soon as possible, after the Saturday week-ending date. The UI System will only accept the most recently completed calendar week. Telecommunications for the Deaf (TDD)1-800-582-2233 and a Spanish application are available.

 

Q. When should I file for benefits?

A. If you decide to file a claim for benefits, you should file as soon as possible. Claims are typically effective the Sunday of the week in which you file an initial claim for unemployment.

 

Q. What information do I need to file?

A. You will need your work history information for the past 18 months, including employer names, addresses, phone numbers, the reason for separation, and dates of employment; your current contact information; your driver’s license or state ID number; and Social Security Card.

 

Q. Is there a charge to file your claim online?

A: No, MDES does not charge a fee or require a credit card or bank account information to file your claim. Please only use www.mdes.ms.gov to file your benefits.

 

Q. What options do I have to receive my benefits?

A. You will be given the option to receive your benefits by direct deposit or debit card.

Important Debit Card Information: The MDES debit card has no monthly fees, no fees for purchases, or no fees for cashback (with a purchase or at a bank teller window). However, certain fees apply when using the debit card (ex: ATM Balance Inquiries, phone balance inquiries over the monthly allotment, ATM cash withdrawals, or for a replacement card). You may avoid some of these fees by visiting www.EPPICard.com for balance and transaction history information. You will receive detailed information regarding your MDES debit card in the mail. If a replacement debit card is necessary, contact the card provider, EPPICard at 1-866-461-4095.

Important Direct Deposit Information: To obtain Direct Deposit into your checking account, you must log in at www.mdes.ms.gov under Unemployment Claims, select Online Unemployment Services, select Benefits Maintenance tab, select Update Claimant Profile tab, and then select Payment options tab.

 

Q. How long does it take to receive a debit card?

A. A debit card takes up to 14 business days to be received from the vendor. Debit cards are issued the day after an initial claim for benefits with no eligibility issues on file. For initial claims with eligibility issues, a debit card is issued once all eligibility issues have been allowed. If you have received a debit card for unemployment in the past and no longer have access to that card, your card has been lost, or an expired card you will need to request a replacement card by calling 1-866-461-4095. Debit cards will be mailed to the current address on file. To view your card balance, visit: www.EPPICard.com

 

Q. Do I need to report my pension and/or retirement pay?

A. You must notify MDES and report all pension and/or retirement pay received. Your benefits may be reduced by pensions contributed to by your base period employers (excluding Social Security).

 

Q. Will child support affect my unemployment benefits?

A. Your benefits may be reduced by child support obligations. Questions about child support deductions should be directed to that Agency.

 

Q. Do I need to update my contact information even if I’m no longer receiving Unemployment Benefits?

A. You must report a change of address even after you stop filing or exhaust your benefits. If you relocate to another state, you must register for work with the state workforce agency within 9 days.

 

Q. What should I select when filing my claim during this Coronavirus pandemic?

A. If you are temporarily laid off due to COVID-19, you should select ‘Lack of Work’ not ‘Leave of Absence” when filing your claim.

 

Q. Can a claim be edited or canceled once it is submitted?

A. No. A claim cannot be edited or canceled by a claimant once submitted.

 

Q. How do I cancel my claim?

A. Send a request to the Benefits Department at Benefitpay@mdes.ms.gov

 

Q. I have received a notification that someone has filed for Unemployment Insurance Benefits using my information. What do I do?

A. Report this immediately to MDES by following the directions on our Fraud page. (Click Here)


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COVID-19 FAQ’s for Workers


Q. Would I be eligible for benefits if my employer shuts down or lays me off because of the COVID-19 situation?

A. You may be eligible and should file for unemployment benefits and a determination will be made concerning your eligibility. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

 

Q. Would I be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits if I become ill with the COVID-19 virus and cannot work?

A. Yes. Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis are eligible.

 

Q. Would I be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits if I am quarantined?

A. If an individual is quarantined due to COVID-19 and will return to the employer, this individual would be considered laid off. You may file for unemployment benefits and a determination will be made concerning your eligibility. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

 

Q. I am a contract worker. I received a Misc-1099 in lieu of a W2. Will I be eligible for unemployment benefits if no work is available for me?

A. Unemployment taxes are not paid on Independent Contractors or the self-employed so these earnings cannot be used to establish a claim for regular unemployment benefits. However, you may be qualified for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The CARES Act provides federal benefits to individuals who would not ordinarily qualify for unemployment benefits, such as those who are self-employed, gig workers, clergy, and those working for religious organizations.

 

Q. Is the coronavirus considered a disaster, and can I receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)?

A. Like DUA, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is an emergency program activated in response to a crisis and designed to provide benefits to certain individuals who are ineligible for or who have exhausted entitlement to regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits.

 

Q. For self-employed individuals, contract workers, gig workers, clergy, and religious organizations, what documents and for what time period would earnings records be needed for recalculation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) weekly benefit amount?

A. The time period for which earnings would need to be shown in the calendar year 2019.

  • 2019 Income Tax Records
  • 2019 W-2 Forms
  • Bank Statement Indicating a Business Account
  • Receipts from Business of Work Completed or Items Sold
  • 1099 Forms
  • Current Check Stubs from Your Last Employer with Wages Earned
  • Account with Recent Payroll Deposits from The Employer

 

Q. What if my employer goes out of business permanently as a result of COVID-19?

A. You may be eligible and should apply for unemployment benefits. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

 

Q. I was fired from my job because I refused to report to work due to the coronavirus. What can I do?

A. You may file for unemployment benefits and a determination will be made concerning your eligibility based on your specific circumstances. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

 

Q. I am unable to work because of a family member’s illness. Can I collect unemployment benefits?

A. If the individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s house who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they may be eligible and should apply.

 

Q. If my employer only permits me to work part-time rather than my full-time hours, will I be able to collect unemployment benefits?

A. You should file for benefits as you may be eligible for partial unemployment.
Please note: when working and filing, all hours and gross earnings must be reported. A portion of your gross earnings will be deducted from your weekly benefit amount.

 

Q. How should I answer the questions on the claim application ‘Can you accept full-time work immediately?

A. If you are affected by the COVID-19, you should select ‘Yes’.

 

Q. I filed for unemployment because I was laid off because of the virus. I was told I had insufficient wage claim?

A. Insufficient Wage Claim means that you did not have enough wages to qualify monetarily for regular Unemployment Insurance Benefits. However, you may potentially be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the CARES Act of 2020.

 

Anyone making a false statement or withholding facts to increase or obtain benefits to which he is not entitled is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both.

File your Unemployment Claim, PUA Unemployment Claim, or Weekly Certification Online Here.

 


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Unemployment benefits are taxable


Q. Do I have to report unemployment benefits on my federal income tax return?

A. Yes, any unemployment compensation received during the year must be reported on your federal tax return.

 

Q. How will I know how much unemployment compensation I received?

A. If you received unemployment compensation during the year, you will be issued a Form 1099-G from MDES.

 

Q. How will unemployment compensation affect my tax return?

A. If you do not have taxes withheld from your unemployment compensation, it could result in a tax liability.

 

Q. Can I have federal income tax withheld from my unemployment compensation?

A. Yes, you can choose to have federal income tax withheld from your unemployment benefits. This option is provided when filing your initial claim and is also available through your MDES online account. Once logged into your account, select “Benefit Maintenance” and then select “Payment Options.” You may then click “Yes” or “No” for federal tax withholding.

 

For IRS Publication 5444: Did You Receive Unemployment Benefits?, click here

 


 

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FAQ’s for Employers

 

Q. Will my employees be eligible for benefits if they cannot work even if my business remains open and I have work for them?

A. Under the unemployment insurance laws, individuals who are separated from employment due to no fault of their own may be eligible for benefits. The determination would be made based on the circumstances of each case.

 

Q. What is ReStart MS and how can I use this for my business?

A. ReStart MS is an online system developed by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) to assist the business community in transitioning employees who were separated from the workplace due to COVID-19 back into the workforce.

ReStart MS provides employers with information on employees presently filing or who have previously filed for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Utilizing this system will aid in the prevention of improper unemployment payments and assist in getting your workforce back to work sooner.

ReStart MS allows employers to report:

  • Rehires
  • Refusal of Work
  • Inability to Locate
  • Potential Fraudulent / ID Theft Claims

 

Mississippi Law requires employers to report refusals to work within 10 days of the date of refusal.



Q. I have received notifications that my employees have filed for unemployment. However, they have not filed a claim. What do I do?

A. These claims may be fraudulent claims. Please use the ReStart MS system to report this information to MDES.

 

Q. How can I see if my employees have filed for unemployment?

A. You can do this by using the ReStart MS system. ReStart MS may be accessed by utilizing your Unemployment Insurance, ReEmployMS, system User ID and Password. MDES sent letters to Mississippi businesses at the end of June with instructions and an authorization code on how to create an account.



Q. If my business declines, or I need to close, lay off staff, or cut staff hours, will my Unemployment Insurance account be charged for any benefits paid to employees I had to lay off?

A. A. The current statute dictates that an employer’s account will be charged for benefits paid to result from a lack of work. MDES is monitoring and reviewing federal and state guidelines related to Covid-19 and may exercise flexibility where applicable in accordance with federal or state executive orders.

 

Q. If my account is charged for benefits paid to employees, will this affect my tax rate?

A. Based on the current statute, an employer’s tax rate could be impacted by charges to their account; however, MDES is monitoring and reviewing federal and state guidelines related to Covid-19 and may exercise flexibility where applicable in accordance with federal or state executive orders.



Q. Can an employer who needs to temporarily lay off employees because of COVID-19 continue to pay health insurance premiums for the employee during the layoff period or will this negatively impact the employee’s unemployment benefits?

A. Continuing to provide health insurance will not impact your employee’s ability to receive unemployment benefits.

 


 

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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) FAQ's

 

Q. What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

A. PUA – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (more information)

PUA is intended to provide assistance to persons unemployed or working reduced hours due to COVID-19 and is not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.

PUA provides benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons. Click here for a full list of COVID-10 related reasons.

 

Q. How do I know if I am eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

A. You may be eligible for PUA if you are:

  • Self-employed or an independent contractor
  • Employed by a church, religious entity or non-profit organization
  • Employed in the gig economy
  • Have insufficient earnings to establish a regular unemployment claim
  • Not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits



Q. I am unemployed due to COVID-19 and I am a self-employed/1099 worker. Do I need to file a new claim if I already filed for unemployment claim prior to April 20, 2020, and was denied?

A. If you have filed and been denied for regular unemployment since off work due to COVID-19, you do not have to file a new claim. You will be notified of your potential eligibility for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and any action needed on your part. You should continue to file your weekly certifications.

If you have not filed a claim for unemployment benefits since off work due to COVID-19, you should file a claim.

For Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) call 1-833-919-0334.

 

For U.S. Department of Labor’s Questions and Answers about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program, click here


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