Unemployment Benefit: Frequently asked questions

How to claim Jobseeker's Allowance: Support from the state

If you become unemployed, you may qualify for unemployment benefits through a state or federal program. However, you may have questions about these programs and your eligibility. Many things may seem confusing, but we will try to shed some light by answering the most frequently asked questions.

What an unemployment claim is

Unemployment claims are applications by individuals to the state's unemployment insurance fund, which covers income shortfalls for the unemployed. However, the federal government has the ability to extend unemployment benefits or change eligibility requirements during a national emergency or economic downturn if a significant number of people remain unemployed due to these circumstances. This expansion may allow more people to qualify to apply.

Determining your eligibility for unemployment benefits begins with your previous employment and unemployment conditions. These benefits are available to several categories of workers, including hourly or salaried full-time employees, freelancers, independent contractors, and gig workers. Each region has different requirements to qualify for benefits,  which may include factors such as:

  • Unemployment through no fault of your own;
  • Working a base period before becoming unemployed;
  • Meeting income or wage requirements;
  • Actively looking for work in the future while receiving unemployment benefits.


You may be required to provide certain documents to prove your employment status, the income you currently earn, and other personal information. Generally, the information required to apply for unemployment benefits includes:

  • Name, complete mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address;
  • Social Security number;
  • Names and addresses of employers for the previous two years, sometimes three or four years;
  • Copies of Form SF8 or SF50 if you were a federal employee before unemployment began;
  • A copy of Form DD14 if you are a current or former member of the military.

Documents for unemployment benefit

Where to file for unemployment

There is usually either an unemployment claims website or a local unemployment office. Before you call or go online, it's best to have all of your paperwork ready so that you're prepared to answer questions. Depending on the number of calls, it may take several weeks or months to process applications.

The amount of unemployment benefits you receive depends on the wages you earned at your previous job. In most cases, your wages are up to half of the weekly amount at your previous job, with the maximum amount paid per person. Knowing your specific benefit plan will help you strategize and make a financial plan.

Part-time work and benefit

The government also offers partial unemployment benefits for those who have lost their full-time job and are working part-time. Benefits may be available for employees who have lost their full-time jobs due to budget cuts or other internal reasons. These programs are usually available in limited numbers, so you may want to check with your local unemployment office to find out the amount of partial benefits and whether you qualify.

I can't get through to a job center employee

Job centers typically handle a large number of calls and emails each day, which can result in delayed or unanswered phone calls. Sometimes the best option is to keep calling the office until you are answered. You can also ask your legislators for help. Sometimes legislators will help the unemployment office with applications and direct claimants to the right place.

Who can receive unemployment benefit

How long I can receive unemployment benefits

Generally, unemployment benefits are granted for up to 26 weeks. Each region sets its own parameters, but special circumstances may extend or limit the benefit period for all recipients. When an extension occurs, it is often accompanied by additional financial support from the federal government.

Some circumstances may cause an unemployment agency to deny your application for unemployment benefits. Usually, the agency will send a denial letter by mail, email, or through your account on the agency's website. The letter explains in detail why the agency denied your application and what you can do next.

If the unemployment office has denied your application for unemployment benefits, you have several options. If you think the agency made a mistake, you can appeal and reapply. The office may re-examine your application to determine if they made a mistake or if you provided incorrect information. Sometimes the appeal process includes a hearing where you can testify and ask for a reconsideration of your benefit amount.

If I was fired from my job

Unemployment benefits are usually only available to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. This means that internal or external forces forced the company you worked for to lay you off or reduce your hours. For example, if you work at a retail store and the company's revenues have plummeted, it may lay off employees to offset costs. Being fired usually qualifies you for benefits, but being fired for poor performance, behavior, or other personal reasons does not qualify you for benefits.

Job search

Plus, you are usually expected to take an active role in your job search. The unemployment fund is an insurance policy for those who have lost their jobs, so getting people back to work is a priority. Sometimes you may be offered a job through work programs or require recipients to show proof that they looked for work while they were unemployed. It is important to check job postings, job search sites, and bulletin boards while you are unemployed to find a job and get back to work as soon as possible.



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