The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation offers a variety of information on a number of employment and labor related topics, including finding a new job, posting a new job opportunity, learning more about labor and employment laws, finding statistics related to the South Dakota job market, learning more about workers’ compensation laws and applying for and receiving South Dakota unemployment insurance.  After losing your job, trying to figure out whether you qualify for unemployment benefits is the last thing you want to grapple with.  We clear through all of the muddled legal requirements and lay out what you really need to know below.

South Dakota Unemployment Insurance

There are several different requirements you must meet in order to qualify for unemployment insurance (“UI”) benefits in South Dakota.  First, you must either be completely or partially unemployed and your prior employer must have been paying into the unemployment tax system of the State.  You need to have submitted an application to make UI claims and request a benefit payment, and cannot have lost your job due to actions you undertook.  Additionally, you must meet a specific set of income requirements (more on that below) and file a weekly certification telling the South Dakota DOL that you are still eligible for unemployment benefits under the law.  You cannot receive benefits if you are disabled and will not be looking for more work in the future and the law requires you to make a consistent and continual effort to find a new job while you are receiving unemployment benefit checks.

Income Requirements

It is critical that you understand and meet the income requirements the State of South Dakota puts on you in order to receive unemployment compensation.  To have your benefit application approved you must have earned income in at least two calendar quarters during a period of time that is called your “Base Period.”  Your Base Period is the past four calendar quarters not including the current calendar quarter you file for benefits and the calendar quarter immediately preceding the one you are in.  For example, if you were to file for unemployment benefits in South Dakota on September 1 of 2009, you would exclude the 3rd quarter of 2009 and the 2nd quarter of 2009 and then use the four quarters prior to that as your Base Period (the 1st Quarter of 2009 and the 4th, 3rd and 2nd quarters of 2008).

In determining whether you earned income in at least two calendar quarters of your Base Period you can use income that came from an employer while you were living in another state or states.  Keep in mind that even if you earned income in at least two calendar quarters during the Base Period the income of at least one quarter must have been a minimum of $728.

Payment Amounts

After you are approved for benefits, the South Dakota Dept of Labor will pay you 1/26th of the wages that you earned in the highest quarter of your Base Period.  The State does have a weekly maximum that your payments will be capped out at, but this number constantly changes and will not be published here.  Check with the SD DOL’s website at for more information on what the current weekly maximum payment is.

When Do Payments Come?

Payments will begin to arrive within 2 business days after your UI claims have been approved and you have filed your first weekly certification.  Keep in mind that any State observed holidays and weekends will slow down your payment timeframe.  If you have questions on the status of your payment you can contact the State either through or through the telephone at 605-626-3212.

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