How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are provided to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Benefits are available through states, each of which has its own unemployment agency.

Because every state has its own agency, the rules and requirements, what to know about unemployment can vary from one location to the next.

For example, each state has its own max unemployment amount that claimants can receive.

In order to file for unemployment, a claimant must meet the eligibility criteria in his or her state and submit a claim with the unemployment office.

When determining a petitioner’s eligibility, the unemployment agency will oftentimes conduct an interview. Once the agency makes a determination, the claimant will receive a letter of approval or denial.

Those who are denied unemployment can submit an appeal in order to have their claim reviewed.

Employers who disagree that a former employee should receive unemployment may also dispute a claim with the benefits office.

Below, claimants can learn the basic details they need to know about meeting the eligibility criteria for unemployment, filing a claim and receiving benefits.

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Requirements for Unemployment

A claimant’s eligibility for unemployment is based on several different factors, such as how long he or she worked and what his or her wages were.In general, a petitioner can only meet the unemployment qualifications if he or she was not at fault for the job loss.

Other basic criteria state that the claimant must be available for work, actively seeking a job, physically able to work and willing to accept any reasonable job offer.

Related Article: Job Search Resources

To qualify for unemployment, a claimant usually needs to have worked during four of the last five calendar quarters, or 12 to 15 months.

This period of time is usually referred to as a “base period.” State unemployment offices look at a worker’s base period and consider what his or her total wages were during that time.

A claimant’s wages need to total a certain amount, set by each state, for him or her to qualify for benefits.

In any case, a petitioner can only claim benefits if he or she earned wages from an employer who pays unemployment taxes, which includes most workplaces.

How to File for Unemployment

It is necessary to apply for unemployment, otherwise known as filing a claim, before you can begin receiving benefits from the unemployment office.

The initial claim you file will be used to determine if you qualify for benefits. Because each state has its own policies and procedures, note that the application process will be different depending on where you live.

In general, you should apply for benefits as soon as you lose your job or your full-time hours are cut.

However, it is important to note that some states prefer you to apply on a specific day of the week in order to make the process go more smoothly.

Before filing for unemployment, you should always check the exact procedures with your state unemployment office.

When you file unemployment claim forms, you will need to provide a variety of information about yourself and your employment.

Basic details such as your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, dates of employment, employer’s name and reason for leaving your job will all be required.

You can usually submit an unemployment application online, over the phone, in person or through the mail depending on your state’s policies.

Learn About Completing an Unemployment Interview

An unemployment phone interview may be required if the agency needs to verify information about your job loss, including details such as the dates of your employment or the circumstances of your unemployment. If the agency does not have any questions about your eligibility, you may not need to complete an interview.

However, interviews are common enough that it does not hurt to prepare for one just in case. If you are required to complete an interview, be aware that it is essential to the process. Failing to participate can lead to your benefits being delayed or even denied altogether.

Unemployment phone interviews are usually scheduled in advance, which gives you time to prepare. It is helpful to look for a list of questions asked during unemployment interview sessions, as this can help you answer more effectively.

Your unemployment agency may provide the questions ahead of time, but you may also be able to find help in the unemployment handbook that each state provides for claimants.

How to Make an Unemployment Appeal

If you are denied for unemployment, you may wish to make an appeal to the unemployment agency. There are several reasons that your claim can be turned down, but you always have a right to contest the agency’s decision.

Furthermore, you can appeal unemployment decisions if you disagree with those made by the agency once you begin receiving benefits, such as reducing your benefit amount. Note that your employer can also file an appeal if it disagrees that you should be awarded benefits.

In most cases, you can send an unemployment appeal letter through the mail, via fax or deliver it in person.

However, many states also allow you to appeal a decision online. No matter which method you use to contest a decision, you will need to provide basic details about yourself such as your name, address, Social Security Number and the reason that you are submitting an appeal.

Once your dispute is lodged, you must either respond to a hearing over the phone or in person.

How much does unemployment pay?

Learning how much unemployment pays can help you plan for the future and use your benefits effectively. When asking how to calculate unemployment, note that each state uses its own formula for determining how much you will receive.

In most cases, the unemployment agency will consider what your wages were during your base period. Usually, the agency will look at your highest-earning quarter in the base period to calculate your weekly benefit amount.

While you can only receive a set amount each week, note that there is also a maximum amount that you can be granted overall.

The maximum unemployment you can receive will usually be determined by multiplying your weekly benefit amount by 26, since most states only allow you to get benefits for 26 weeks.

Related Article: How much will you receive in unemployment benefits?

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