Official State of Iowa Website

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Unemployment insurance benefits are meant to help workers who have lost their job or had their hours cut. Not everyone who is unemployed can get unemployment benefits. You must be:

  • Unemployed or working reduced hours through no fault of your own
  • Able to work and available for work
  • Actively looking for work (unless this requirement is waived)

Specific work and wage requirements also apply. Unemployment benefits are temporary—you can only receive benefits for a limited number of weeks within a year.

Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) runs Iowa's unemployment insurance benefits program. IWD has a detailed Claimant Handbook and FAQ section on their website.

To apply for Unemployment Benefits, visit Iowa Workforce Development's website.

What does it mean to be unemployed by no fault of your own?

Whether you are unemployed because of no fault of your own is a very fact specific question. A typical example of being unemployed by no fault of your own is if your employer made cuts to its staff and laid you off as part of those cuts.  

Under some circumstances, you may be able to get unemployment benefits even if you were fired from your job or quit your job.

If you were fired from your job

You can be disqualified from benefits if you were fired for misconduct. Iowa Code section 96.5(2)(d) defines misconduct and provides 14 specific examples of what counts as misconduct. Examples include:

  • Lying on an employment application.
  • Knowingly violating the employer’s reasonable rule, that the employer uniformly enforces.
  • Intentionally damaging an employer’s property.
  • Excessively missing work or coming to work late.
  • Stealing from your employer or coworker.

If you quit your job

If you quit your job without a good reason, you probably won’t be able to get unemployment benefits. You need to have left either because of a good reason that was the fault of your employer, or because of a reason listed in the Iowa Code. Whether you left for a good reason will be very fact specific. Iowa Code section 96.5(1) provides reasons for quitting that don’t stop you from getting unemployment benefits.

For more information, visit Iowa Legal Aid’s page “Common Issues in Qualifying for Unemployment Benefits.”

What happens if my application for benefits is denied?

You can appeal the denial to an Administrative Law Judge, but you have limited time to file the appeal. For more information, visit:

Ask a Law Librarian

Resources from Iowa Workforce Development

Claimant Handbook


Terms and Definitions

Iowa Legal Aid's Unemployment Insurance Topic Pages


Related Pages

Work Law 

Can my employer fire me for any reason?

Continuation of Health Coverage under COBRA

The information in the People's Law Library is for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website is legal advice. The law is complicated and many aspects of the law change regularly. Consider reaching out to a lawyer. More information about how to find a lawyer, including free and low-cost options, is available on the Finding a Lawyer page.