Department of Labor and Regulation

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance Benefits - Eligibility

Because there are many factors that can affect an unemployment insurance claim, claimants usually do not know until they apply whether they will be eligible for benefits. The Unemployment Insurance Division determines eligibility based on information from the claimant and from the former employer(s) and South Dakota Unemployment Insurance laws.

Although there are general eligibility requirements, keep in mind that eligibility is determined for specific individuals and specific situations. Your situation may be quite different from that of people you worked with at the same job. For most unemployed workers to be eligible for benefits, they must be able to answer "yes" to each of the following questions:

Did you work for an employer who paid unemployment insurance (UI) taxes to the Department of Labor and Regulation on wages you earned while working?

Are you unemployed or under-employed through no fault of your own?

Did you meet the earnings requirements during the base period? (See wage requirements/benefit amount.)

Are you able and available for suitable work and actively seeking work for each week you claim benefits?

Most employers and industries are subject to the unemployment insurance system. Employers who pay unemployment insurance taxes are required to post a notice in the work area, stating their employees are covered by unemployment insurance law. You could also ask the people who do the payroll where you worked if the employer is subject to UI taxes. You could stop at your South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation office or check directly with the Unemployment Insurance Division when you file your claim. When you file a claim, you can be told immediately the amount of wages your employer(s) reported that you earned.

If you were laid off for lack of work, it is easy to determine that you are unemployed or underemployed through no fault of your own. If you left your job for some other reason, the Unemployment Insurance Division will try to get information from both you and your employer before deciding if you are eligible.

Generally, if you were fired for reasons other than misconduct connected with your work, you may be eligible. Misconduct is a fairly technical term. Usually if you quit your job for personal reasons unconnected with your work, you would not be eligible. However, there are provisions in South Dakota Unemployment Insurance Laws which may allow payment even when you quit your job. An example is leaving on the advice of a doctor because the work is a hazard to your health.

It is best to file your claim and honestly describe why you separated from your employer. This information will be used when contacting your employer.


Marcia Hultman, Secretary
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2291
Tel. 605.773.3101
Fax. 605.773.6184