Apply for Unemployment Insurance
Economy & Policy

How To Apply for Unemployment Insurance

The Reason for Unemployment Insurance

It is important to note that Unemployment Insurance is not a welfare program, so although individuals may be in need of assistance, it is not a factor in eligibility. Unemployment insurance helps maintain a solid economy by keeping money flowing between consumers and service providers. Individuals who have unemployment insurance to fall back on are more likely to pay at least some of their bills. Additionally, those who are receiving UI benefits are more likely to remain within their community instead of leaving to search for work elsewhere.

This helps to stabilize both the state and local economy and prevents a sharp drop in consumer spending, especially during a slow economy when unemployment claims are inevitably higher.

Recommended: How To Apply For Unemployment Benefits In Florida

Who Qualifies for Unemployment Benefits?

In order to receive unemployment insurance benefits, employees must be both financially eligible and personally eligible.

While the laws in each individual state can vary to a degree, they remain quite similar due to federal mandates governing the unemployment insurance program. One example is the waiting week. While most states impose a mandatory unpaid waiting week for each benefit year, Kentucky does not, for example.

By and large, most states adhere to the same general guidelines in order to simplify the process. At its most general, a person who collects unemployment should be facing or experiencing a job loss or a reduction in hours.

They should have sufficient earnings in the first four of the last five quarters in order to be eligible for benefits.

Of course, the basis for eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits is quite a bit more complicated. This is especially true since each state is in charge of setting forth its own requirements for eligibility. The following are the general federal mandates for acceptance into the unemployment program.

An applicant should be found to be unemployed through no fault of their own. Frequently, people who are unemployed are let go from their jobs because of a lay-off or reduction in force.

Those who quit their jobs or are fired are generally not eligible for unemployment, although there are exceptions to this rule. Applicants that can show just cause in quitting a job for work-related reasons could potentially be approved for unemployment benefits. Alternatively, when an employee who was fired applies for unemployment benefits, it is in the hands of the employer to show proof of the cause.

Finally, in regard to eligibility, applicants must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking full-time employment. When a job is offered to an applicant, the applicant must accept that job or risk losing unemployment insurance benefits.

Steps to Apply for Unemployment Insurance

In order to apply for eligibility, an applicant will need to show having earned sufficient wages during the base period.

Using the wages in the base period, monetary qualification, and the weekly benefit amount (WBA) are determined using a chart or formula that is specific to each state.

Benefit amounts vary from state to state, but the weekly benefit amount is usually about half of an applicant’s normal wages and is directly proportionate to each individual’s income in the base period; high wages earned during the base period will yield higher benefit amounts.

The weekly benefit amount is valid for the length of one benefit year. A benefit year is the one year period following the initial application for unemployment insurance in which a person can draw a maximum of 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. After the benefit year is up, an applicant must reapply for a new claim.

Filing an Unemployment Insurance Claim

In order for eligibility to be determined, an employee must file an unemployment insurance claim. In fact, this should be done as soon as possible in order to avoid missing out on potential benefits, as claims are not retroactive.

Although many states do require a waiting week before benefits begin, the week will not count as such unless an application has been filed. Additionally, it can take as long as a month to receive initial benefits in some states, so the longer an applicant delays, the longer he will be without income.

In order to file an application, unemployed workers should contact their local state unemployment agency by clicking the appropriate state link below. Depending on the applicant’s state, an initial claim may be filed online, in person or by phone.

Continuing Eligibility Requirements

Once approved for benefits, applicants must still comply with the continued eligibility requirements as set forth by the state. Most states use a weekly claim system, although a number of states do use bi-weekly claims.

It is important to answer all of the questions in the benefits claim accurately in order to avoid payment delays. In order to satisfy the weekly claim eligibility, most applicants will be required to submit work search results; these are the records of a person’s attempts at obtaining a job.

There are special circumstances that do not require the submission of work searches, such as people who are members of hiring halls or unions.

State Specific Guidelines

To learn more about receiving unemployment insurance benefits, enter your information in the form. You can also jump to the state-specific information by selecting the ‘STATES’ menu and then select your state from the list.


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