Your Guide to Unemployment Benefits

If you have been released from a job, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. In certain cases, you may meet requirements even if you quit your job.



Receiving unemployment insurance (UI) payments enables you to continue earning some form of income during your time of financial hardship.

However, it is unlikely that you will receive benefits that are equivalent to the income you earned prior to separation from your job. 

Your exact unemployment insurance benefits amount will depend on several factors, such as the amount of time you spent working at your prior job.

dditionally, the wage you earned before applying for unemployment will impact the maximum amount that you can receive. It is also  important to understand that you cannot receive these payments indefinitely.

However, depending on which state you live in and the status of the economy, you may be able to receive benefits for six months or more. Discover more helpful information about unemployment benefits below. 

Why You Should Apply for Unemployment Benefits 

Unemployment insurance is a government program that provides financial assistance to certain eligible residents who have been separated from their jobs.

If you have lost your job through uncontrollable circumstances such as company bankruptcy, it can be difficult to pay for basic necessities such as rent, utilities and food.

However, unemployment insurance can assist you in making your necessary payments while you search for a new job. 

Applying for UI benefits can reduce your stress while you search for new employment. Even if you are not eligible to receive the maximum amount of benefits that your state unemployment program offers, any amount will be able to assist you.

This is especially true if you have dependents and a spouse who rely on your income.

Many households do not have an emergency savings fund that they can use during times of financial struggle, such as an unexpected job loss or decrease in income.

Applying for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits can help you stay on your feet while you seek a more permanent solution. 

How to Get UI Benefits 

If you are interested in receiving UI benefits, you will first have to submit an application. To do so, you will have to visit your local unemployment or U.S. Department of Labor office.

Administrators there will be able to provide you with an application or instructions to complete one at home. Most states allow you to submit your applications using the following methods:

  • Online portal
  • Fax
  • Mail
  • Telephone
  • At an unemployment office

When completing an application, it is essential to include certain pertinent pieces of information. For instance, you must include your name and contact details.

Additionally, you may be asked to supply your Social Security Number (SSN) and driver’s license or state ID. Therefore, it is essential to have these credentials nearby. 

Moreover, you will be required to submit information about your previous employment. Details and contact information about your employer must be included in addition to the dates that you began and ended work with that employer.

Furthermore, you will be asked to list your gross earnings or pay rate and hours worked. Keep in mind that these application details may vary between states. 

Factors That Affect Qualifications for Unemployment Benefits 

Not every applicant seeking unemployment benefits will receive them. There are several factors that impact your eligibility for benefits and the amount that you will collect.

It is important to meet eligibility criteria in order to be approved for unemployment insurance and to continue collecting benefits.  

When first applying for UI benefits, you must submit information regarding your work history. Doing this allows your local unemployment office agents to verify that you have earned and accumulated enough credit weeks.

To qualify for the unemployment program, you must have worked a minimum of four out of five calendar quarters, or the past 12 months. This is called the base period. 

In addition, you must have become separated from your job through no fault of your own. You may be partially unemployed or have had your hours reduced but this cannot be a choice you made yourself.

In certain instances, quitting is an acceptable reason for seeking unemployment benefits. However, these cases are dependent on individual situations. 

Once accepted for UI benefits, you must remain eligible by filing weekly claims. Maintaining eligibility involves being available and physically able to work.

Moreover, you must be actively seeking new employment and be willing to immediately accept work. 

How do I claim unemployment benefits? 

Once you are approved to receive UI benefits, you will begin receiving weekly payments. However, most state unemployment programs will require that you select your benefit payment method.

Many programs allow you to choose between direct deposit and an unemployment debit card. Nowadays, it is rare for unemployment offices to offer recipients the option to receive paper checks in the mail.

However, some state UI programs do deliver the initial payment as a paper check. 

Different unemployment centers have different procedures for setting up your payment method. Some automatically enroll you to receive benefits through the state’s unemployment debit card unless you change your payment preferences.

Other UI offices may allow you to enroll in direct deposit during the application process. However, it might take several days for your direct deposit request to process, especially if you enroll after a certain time during the weekday or on a weekend. 

How much will I get in unemployment insurance benefits? 

The amount of UI benefits that are paid to you depend on your unique circumstances and the eligibility requirements that you meet.

Unlike other government programs, the amount of financial assistance you can receive does not depend on your income or the number of members in your household.

Rather, your benefits are determined by the amount you earned during the base period. 

Depending on which state you reside in, there will be a different method for calculating how much you are eligible to receive. Some states calculate your benefits by averaging your weekly wages while others utilize your highest wages. Ultimately, the best way to accurately determine your weekly benefit amount is to apply. 

For how long can you claim unemployment benefits? 

After you begin receiving unemployment insurance payments, you will be able to continue receiving benefits for a limited period of time.

As with the amount of weekly benefits you can collect, the amount of weeks that you are eligible for benefits depends on how long you worked during your base period and your wages earned during that time. 

Many state unemployment offices offer resources to help you calculate the length of time that you are eligible for benefits.

Different states use different methods to calculate this information. Some provide instructions and/or charts to help you estimate the period of time that your benefits can be collected.

However, the only way to truly know how long you can receive benefits for is to apply at your local unemployment office and provide accurate employment information.