When a worker loses their employment due to a reason that was not their doing, they are entitled to receive unemployment benefits.
The benefits of unemployment insurance (UI) come in the form of monetary assistance. Every state in the country has their own unemployment insurance program.
Each of the programs are managed and operated at a state-level by local agencies, but they are overseen by the federal government’s Department of Labor.
The unemployment insurance program was launched in order to provide American workers with a safety net in case they ever experience job loss and are put at risk for financial hardships.
The funds that are provided to beneficiaries by unemployment insurance are intended to help out-of-work Americans pay their monthly bills.
By assisting with financial stress and pressure, recipients of unemployment insurance can continue their search for a new job.
Because the unemployment insurance program is operated differently in every state, there will be variations between eligibility, benefits and more.
In order to ensure that there is no confusion, applicants should check in with their local agencies for their regulations.
Although there are minor differences in the program, residents in every U.S. state can receive unemployment benefits. Learn more about the unemployment insurance program below.
What are the Requirements for Unemployment Benefits?
Generally, you can only be eligible for unemployment benefits within your own state. Additionally, your loss of employment cannot have been caused by your own deliberate actions.
If your termination was deemed to be your fault, you can lose your eligibility for unemployment benefits. In fact, you can only benefit from unemployment if you are not legally at fault for your job loss.
If you were deemed to be terminated for just cause, it means that your actions caused you to be fired. A few examples of terminations that could disqualify you from being eligible for unemployment benefits include:
- Breaching a company contract or violating a company policy.
- Disclosing confidential company information to a party that is not permitted to know.
- Being dishonest by stealing, lying or altering information.
- Breaking any law.
- Consuming alcohol or other illicit substances while on the clock.
Although these are some common examples of behaviors that can result in termination, some states may have more lenient regulations than others.
As such, you should check in with your local unemployment agency to verify if your cause of unemployment makes you eligible for benefits.
In certain situations, you may still be eligible for benefits if you were terminated for a cause. However, if you lost your employment because the company you worked for had layoffs, you are still eligible for unemployment assistance.
Additionally, if you were fired in a case of wrongful termination, you can still receive financial assistance from unemployment insurance.
There are some other requirements to participate in the unemployment insurance program. For example, each state establishes earnings and work requirements.
The benefits that are dispersed during unemployment come from your earnings while you were working. Due to this method of funding, there is a minimum amount of earnings and work time that is required to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
This period of time is considered the “base period”, which usually comes out to four quarters of a calendar. Additionally, you must be willing and able to work to participate in the program. You must file your claim in order to collect UI benefits.
How to Apply for Unemployment Insurance Assistance
Your work history will be a major factor in the procedure you must take to apply for unemployment benefits after your job has been terminated.
For example, if your last job was not in the state where you currently reside, you will have to apply for unemployment benefits in the state where you worked.
To make the process easier, the unemployment office in your new state can help you file your claim. The most common methods to file for unemployment insurance are:
- In person at your local state unemployment agency.
- Over the phone by calling your local unemployment office.
- Online through a registration system managed by your state’s unemployment agency.
While you are filing for unemployment assistance, you will need to provide the unemployment agency with information about your case.
For example, you will need to provide your work history. Any inaccuracy or falsehoods on the unemployment application can result in longer processing times. You will need to provide the following basic information:
- Proof of your identification such as a driver’s license or Social Security Number.
- The names, addresses and contact information for your former employers.
- The dates of your employment at each company you list on the application.
It is vital that you file for unemployment benefits as soon as you experience job loss. Some states have waiting periods that can make the process even longer, so it is essential that you start as soon as possible.
Additionally, each application takes about three weeks to process.
One month without funds can be a huge financial stress on a family, so you should apply as soon as you become unemployed.
How to Appeal a Denial for Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment benefit appeals can be filed through your former employer if your claim is approved, but they can also be filed if your claim is denied.
If you feel that your eligibility for unemployment insurance is questionable, you may have to file an appeal if your claim is denied.
In order to file an appeal, you must visit the unemployment agency in your state or a Department of Labor office. When you contact the appropriate agency, you will find out:
- How long you have remaining to file your appeal.
- The information that is required for you to be able to file the appeal.
- The appeals process for unemployment benefits in your state.
During the appeals process you maintain several rights as an applicant, regardless of which state you are applying in.
You have the right to obtain legal representation during your appeal, and this is highly recommended in many cases.
During the appeals process, you can also continue to file for unemployment benefits while your case is being settled.
If required, you can also provide witnesses to support your case and claim on eligibility benefits.