If you recently lost your job, you could qualify for unemployment benefits.Keep in mind that you cannot apply for unemployment benefits if you quit your job or were fired for negligence or misconduct. If this is the case and you feel you were fired unfairly, your best option is to contact a wrongful termination attorney.
Unemployment is meant to be a temporary form of assistance that replaces a part of the salary you’re no longer earning. These benefits are managed at state levels, but federal guidelines exist. The complete name of this program is the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program.
Since these benefits are funded through taxes paid by employers to states, the amount of the benefits, requirements, and duration vary from one state to another.
There are two main requirements you have to meet before filing:
- You need to have worked for a specific time period. Most states require you to work for a full quarter before you become eligible for unemployment benefits.
- You need to have lost the job through no fault of your own. This criteria varies from one state to another.
It’s important to start filing for unemployment as quickly as possible, since you’ll have to wait a few weeks before you start receiving benefits. Some states actually require you to wait an entire week after losing your job before beginning the filing process.
Follow these steps to apply for unemployment benefits:
- Start by contacting your State Unemployment Insurance agency. Visit their official website to learn more about the application process. Some states give you the possibility to file online or with a phone call.
- You’ll have to provide some information regarding the job you lost. Get this information ready in advance to make the filing process easier. You’ll probably have to give details such as the name and address of your former employer as well as the dates of your employment there.
- Wait at least two weeks. It shouldn’t take more than three weeks to start receiving your benefits. Your state agency can give you a more accurate idea of when you’ll start receiving benefits.
- You’ll probably have to go to your local Unemployment Insurance Claims Office for an interview. The purpose of this interview is to determine if you’re eligible to continue receiving benefits. The interviewer may ask questions about why you lost the job and your plans regarding future employment.
- Keep the state agency updated with your earnings and employment offers. You might have to make phone calls or mail documents once a week or every other week depending on the state where you live.
Most states will grant you unemployment benefits for 26 weeks.
Your state can also provide you with valuable resources. You might be required to register through the State Employment Service to be matched with open positions in your area. If your state doesn’t require you to register through this service to receive benefits, it could help you to register anyway so you can be alerted about available positions.
Other resources include testing, counseling, and training programs. These are options you should explore if you have a hard time with finding work in your field.
Filing for unemployment benefits is a rather straightforward process. Keep in mind that these benefits are temporary and take advantage of this time when you’re receiving benefits to look for employment.