Learn How to File for Unemployment Benefits

You may qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits after a loss of unemployment that was through no fault of your own. UI benefits are provided by state unemployment programs to financially aid workers as they search for new jobs. This program is an invaluable resource that can help displaced workers from losing their homes and current lifestyle. 

Every state has its own Unemployment Insurance program. While these programs must follow federal guidelines, states have some leeway when it comes to setting eligibility requirements and benefit amounts. Therefore, it is crucial to learn about the program as a whole, as well as specifics about the UI program operated within your state in order to correctly file your unemployment claim. 

After filing your initial UI benefits claim, you will need to file weekly or biweekly claims to continue to receive benefits. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to file these claims and what you must do to continue to be eligible for aid. 

What is the Unemployment Insurance program?

The Unemployment Insurance program provides financial aid to qualifying displaced workers. Workers who have become unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own may be eligible to receive monetary benefits while they seek new employment. These benefits can help cover household expenses such as:

  • Rent, lot rent, or mortgage. 
  • Utility bills. 
  • Food. 
  • Job-seeking expenses. 

Additionally, UI offices provide job seekers with referrals for employers hiring within their area. Some state programs also offer job training, education opportunities and even self-employment training in addition to financial benefits. 

Each state Unemployment Insurance program has its own eligibility requirements and maximum benefit amounts. Therefore, it is worth taking the time to learn more about the state program that you will be filing with. 

Learn About Requirements for Unemployment Insurance

You may qualify for financial assistance if you have become unemployed through no fault of your own. However, you must also meet work and wage requirements to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits. 

Your UI office will calculate the amount of time you have worked and the wages that you have earned before the date you file your unemployment claim. The time period in which your wages and work hours are considered for your unemployment claim is referred to as the “base period.” 

For most states, a base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar months. However, some state UI programs calculate base periods differently. The amount of work you completed and the amount of wages you earned during your base period will impact both your UI eligibility and benefits. 

Learn How Unemployment Benefits Are Calculated and How Long You Can Receive Benefits 

If you need to file for unemployment benefits, you may be wondering about the amount of benefits you could be eligible to receive. 

If you are eligible to receive UI benefits, your benefit amount will be determined by factoring in:

  • Your earnings during your base period. 
  • The maximum UI benefit amount allotted within your state. 
  • Any other income that you are currently receiving. 

You can only receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, so long as you remain eligible for benefits. However, some states provide extended benefits during periods of high unemployment throughout the state. 

Learn How to File for UI Benefits

Filing for unemployment benefits is a simple process that can be done in multiple ways. Depending on your state program, you may be able to apply for benefits: 

  • Online. 
  • At your local office. 
  • Over the phone. 

You should apply for UI benefits immediately, even if you are unsure if you will qualify. The Unemployment Insurance program will not backdate any benefits that you may have been entitled to prior to the date of your application. 

By applying immediately, you ensure that you will receive your full benefit amount if you are eligible for the program. 

What if you work in a state outside of the one you live in?

You must file for Unemployment Insurance benefits in the state that you worked in, regardless of where you live. If you have worked in multiple states, contact your state unemployment office to be advised on where to file for UI benefits. 

Learn About Information to Provide on the Unemployment Insurance Application

You will need to provide details about yourself and your past employer(s) when filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits. It is crucial that you always review filing instructions carefully before applying.

Additionally, you must only provide information that is truthful and accurate to the best of your ability. Any false information could lead to the denial or delay of your unemployment benefits. 

The information that you must provide varies between state programs. Depending on your state, you may be asked to provide: 

  • Your Social Security Number (SSN), full legal name and date of birth. 
  • Your driver’s license or identification number. 
  • The best phone number and address to reach you at. 
  • The reason that you have become underemployed or unemployed. 
  • Information related to your employers, such as the dates you worked for each of your previous employers and the names and addresses of those employers. 

Learn How to File for Weekly/Biweekly Benefits After Your Initial UI Claim

You must continue to file for UI benefits on a weekly or biweekly basis, depending on your state. Should you fail to file for benefits, you can potentially lose the benefits you would have received for that weekly or biweekly period. 

You can file your weekly or biweekly claims the same way that you filed your initial unemployment claim. Claims must be filed while receiving benefits and while waiting for a decision on your eligibility for benefits. 

Learn About Unemployment Insurance and Continued Requirements 

The Unemployment Insurance program has eligibility requirements that you must meet to receive financial assistance. In addition to these requirements, there are continued eligibility qualifications that must meet to continue to participate in the program. 

Continued eligibility requirements for UI benefits vary between state programs. However, most states will require you to: 

  • File for benefits on a weekly or biweekly basis. 
  • Report any income or job offers you have received during the weekly or biweekly period. 
  • Report to your local office whenever requested. 
  • Register to work with your local office. 

You should always review the continued eligibility requirements for your state program to help retain your eligibility. 

For more information about this process, you can visit the USA.gov site for help or your states unemployment website.