How to Receive and Use Unemployment Benefits

Many claimants wonder how to file weekly unemployment claim forms and complete other tasks required for maintaining one’s eligibility for unemployment.

After a beneficiary makes his or her first claim, it is necessary to complete a number of other tasks in order to keep receiving payments on a weekly basis.

Claimants cannot simply file a single form and receive benefits for a full 26 weeks or any other amount of time allowed by the state unemployment office.

In addition to submitting an unemployment weekly claim, you also need to be aware of how changes to your situation can affect your continued eligibility.

For example, if you fail to calculate your wages correctly or report all of your hours, you may receive a payment that is too high.

In the event of an unemployment overpayment, you will be responsible for returning the funds to the state benefit office.

Failing to do so, or providing false information in order to keep benefits you are not entitled to may constitute fraud.

Below, learn everything you need to know about using your benefits, understanding your eligibility and avoiding fraud.

How to Claim Weekly Unemployment Benefits

Submitting a weekly unemployment claim is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your eligibility for payments.

Filing weekly claims allow you to recertify that you are still unemployed and that you are taking the necessary steps to get a job. A claim needs to contain basic information such as your name and Social Security Number, but you will also have to confirm details such as why you are out of work.

By making a claim, you also reaffirming that you are available for work and are actively seeking a job.

When making a weekly claim for unemployment, it is important that you report any source of income that you have.

Certain types of income, such as wages, tips, vacation pay and bonuses may be deducted from the amount you can receive in your weekly benefits.

Each state uses its own calculations to determine how wages and other types of income will affect the amount of unemployment payment for which you are eligible.

Related Article: 5 Ways to Make Money While Unemployed

You are required to file a weekly unemployment claim for the entire time that you are out of work and are seeking a new job.

However, you can also stop submitting claims and restart them at any time during a benefit year, provided that you are still eligible.

In most cases, you can receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment payments, meaning that you can restart a claim during the benefit year if you have not used 26 weeks of benefits yet.

How to Complete an Unemployment Job Search

When you submit a weekly unemployment claim, you will usually have to report your job searching activities from the past week.

An unemployment job search log should be used to keep track of any steps you take to secure employment.

Most of the time, your log is simply used for your own records, but an unemployment agency may need to see it if there are any questions about your continued eligibility for benefits.

The unemployment job search requirements vary from one state to the next, but you can usually maintain your eligibility by completing the following:

  • Applying for a job
  • Uploading your resume to a job search site
  • Attending an interview
  • Meeting with a career counselor
  • Undergoing career training

In addition to looking for jobs, your state unemployment agency will usually require that you register for work as well.

This process entails signing up for an account on the state’s job search website, which will give you access to a number of helpful resources and searching tools.

Avoiding an Overpayment of Unemployment

Paying back unemployment may be necessary if you ever receive more benefits than you were entitled to.

In many cases, the state will catch any errors on its own and notify you that you have received an overpayment.

However, it is also possible to catch mistakes on your own if you notice that you miscalculated your income or any other factor that makes you eligible for benefits.

Mistakes can happen, but it is crucial that you take steps to correct any errors as soon as you notice them.

In most cases, you can pay back unemployment by having the excess amount taken out of your future payments.

However, you will be responsible for making a payment on your own if you are no longer entitled to receive benefits.

If your overpayment cannot be recovered right away, the unemployment agency may withhold the amount you owe from your tax refund, lottery winnings or other sources.

How to Cancel Unemployment Benefits

If you no longer wish to receive unemployment payments, or if you have returned to work, you can simply stop making weekly claims in order to cancel your benefits.

In most cases, it is not necessary to tell the unemployment agency that you have returned to work.

However, it is important that you understand how to stop filing weekly claims as soon as you have earned wages.

In other words, you must stop filing claims during the first week that you have worked, not after you receive your first paycheck for a new job.

The process to cancel unemployment may be different if you have not yet received any benefits but you want to withdraw your first claim.

If you have applied for unemployment but want to cancel the application, you will usually need to contact the unemployment agency immediately to have your form withdrawn.

Canceling unemployment may be necessary if you realized you no longer wanted benefits as soon as you submitted your initial claim.

This allows you to submit a new application at a later date if you wish. Remember, you can stop receiving benefits at any time simply by ceasing to make weekly claims.

Unemployment Fraud

Unemployment benefit fraud is a serious issue that may come with civil or criminal penalties. When you knowingly submit false information in order to receive benefits that you are not entitled to, you may be charged with a felony. Examples of fraud include the following:

  • Failing to report all of your work hours
  • Misrepresenting your wages or other sources of income
  • Filing claims after you have received full-time employment that exceeds the amount of your weekly benefit payment
  • Using another person’s identity to claim benefits
  • Applying for benefits while you are in jail

The unemployment fraud penalties include a reduction in benefits, court fines and jail time, among other consequences.

If fraudulent activity resulted in you receiving an overpayment in benefits, you will also be charged an additional fee when paying back the benefits that you owe.

Related Article: How to Handle Unemployment Benefit Overpayment

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