Four Key Questions When Filing For Unemployment Benefits
Can I apply? Am I eligible? What are my state's policies? There is often confusion
about filing for unemployment benefits. Many people ask themselves the countless
questions, and struggle to find the answers. Regardless of which state you live in, there
are four key questions you must answer as you go about filing for unemployment benefits:
1. How did you become unemployed? In general you are only eligible to receive
unemployment compensation if you were laid off through no fault of your own. Examples
include layoffs related to a slow economy, a division or office being shut down, or an
individual layoff for nearly any other reason. If you were fired (meaning that you were
let go because you violated a company policy) or quit, you are generally not able to
receive benefits. There are many exceptions, however. If you state that you were fired or
quit, you will be asked to describe the circumstances. Your answers to these questions
will play an important role in determining whether or not you will be able to collect
2. Did you work for a long enough period of time during your Base Period? Each
state has what they refer to as a base period, which refers to the period of time prior to
your filing for unemployment benefits. In most states, the Base Period is the five
previous calendar quarters. You are asked to show that you were employed for a minimum
period of time during this time. You are not required to have worked for the same employer
the whole time, nor are you required to have been employed during the entire period.
3. Did you earn enough income during your Base Period? In addition to
demonstrating that you worked for a certain amount of time during your Base Period, your
state will require that you show that you earned a minimum amount of income during the
base period. Like the previous requirement, this test helps determine your level of
employment prior to your application.
Are you actively looking for work? The final key requirement to determine your
eligibility when filing for unemployment benefits is to show that you are seeking a new
job. If you decide to go back to school, take an extended vacation, or work as an
independent contractor, you will not be considered eligible. One other reminder: the
requirement that you are actively looking for work is an "ongoing requirement," meaning
that you will need to continue to update your status in order to continue receiving
benefits. In most states, this periodic update will take place every two weeks.
Nearly two out of every three Americans who are unemployed are not receiving
unemployment benefits. While some are ineligible to receive benefits, many don't want to
go through the hassle of filing for unemployment benefits. More importantly, many people
think they are unable to apply, and avoid filling out the application form. Even if you
don't think you are eligible for unemployment benefits, or are unclear on your state's
policies, go ahead and apply - you may be pleasantly surprised.
Check out Smart Unemployment
to learn more details about
filing for unemployment benefits.
There, you will find helpful tips, and a detailed guide to the unemployment process.