The Down-and-Dirty On Unemployment Insurance

You’ve just been laid off…you have bills to pay, family to care for, a mortgage or rent…where’s the money coming from? If you were laid off or quit with good cause (not fired for a reason), you are most likely eligible for unemployment.

Here are some simple steps to help guide you through the process.

1. Check if you are eligible. Eligibility and rules vary from state to state, so click here to find out details for your state.
The general requirements are:
– You have “adequate” past earnings. In most states, this means that you have worked for 4 out of the 5 past quarters before your claim was filed (you must have worked for a total of 12 months over a 15 month period).
– Currently unemployed.
– Be unemployed through no fault of your own.
– Be actively seeking reemployment.

2. You can apply for unemployment benefits either by telephone or online. You must do this through your state Department of Labor. Make sure you provide as much information as possible in order for your claim to be processed quickly.

3. Reasons why your application might not be approved:
– You left work voluntarily or were fired for cause (not for circumstances beyond your control).
– Not being able or available to work. You must be “ready, willing, and able” to accept a job.
– Refusing an offer of suitable work. (I don’t know how they would find this out)
– Lying on your application.
You can appeal this decision but only your state’s workforce agency can approve or deny your claim.

4. For continued eligibility, you will need to submit forms weekly or biweekly describing where you applied for jobs, what jobs were offered to you, and other questions. You can usually complete these forms by mail or phone. You may also need to report to your local Unemployment Claims Office at an appointed date and time.

5. Most states will pay benefits for up to 26 weeks, with possibly an extension in times of high unemployment.

The federal Department of Labor website has several pages of helpful information.  If you have questions about your specific state, leave a comment and I’ll help you out.


photo credit: Tony Fischer Photography

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