Learn About Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Eligible residents who have been separated from their jobs may be able to obtain monetary assistance through the unemployment insurance (UI) program. It is available in all states. The Department of Labor (DOL) manages the unemployment program and ensures that states follow federal guidelines and requirements.

Unemployment insurance benefits can ease your financial worries if you have become underemployed or unemployed. You can use the benefits that you receive from the program towards monthly expenses while you look for a new job. Read the sections below to learn everything you need to know about the program, ranging from how to apply for benefits to what you can receive once you are approved.  

How to Apply for Unemployment Insurance 

In order to obtain unemployment benefits, you must first understand how to apply. One of the most important things to remember when applying for benefits is that you must do so in the state that you work in. This is essential even if you do not live in that state.

In each state, applicants are able to use different methods to submit their applications. Many state UI programs allow submission online. In other state, you may have other options such as submitting your application: 

  • In person.
  • By mail. 
  • By phone.

While the exact questions you are asked vary depending on the state, most applications require you to include certain information. For instance, you must provide:

  • Your full name and residential address. 
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Your previous employers’ names and addresses.
  • The dates you worked for your past employers. 

You are advised to submit your first unemployment insurance claim as soon as you are unemployed or underemployed. This is so that you do not miss out on any benefits that you are entitled to. Additionally, it is important to apply as soon as possible because your first week is considered the waiting week in which you will not receive benefits. When filling out your claim forms, make sure that you provide honest and accurate information. Otherwise, your benefits may be delayed or even denied. 

It will take approximately three weeks for the UI office to process your first claim after you submit it. Then, if you are approved, you will be able to start receiving benefits. Conversely, if your UI benefits are denied or an employer contests your claim, you might not receive benefits. However, you have the right to request an appeal if you do not agree with the denial.  

About Qualifications for Unemployment Benefits

Although there are certain basic requirements that applicants must meet in order to receive unemployment benefits, specific qualifications may vary by state. Differences exist between the amount that beneficiaries can receive as well as the length of time they can receive it for. Therefore, you must verify your state’s UI program policies and regulations. 

Although there are differences among unemployment programs, they share many similarities when it comes to eligibility requirements. For instance, a basic requirement among UI programs is that you can only enroll if you lost your employment for reasons that were not your fault. 

Being let go from a job because of misconduct or for another similar reason would be considered a job separation with cause. Thus, you would not qualify for unemployment insurance. Moreover, you could be disqualified from receiving benefits if you: 

  • Violated company polices. 
  • Consumed alcohol at work. 
  • Used illegal substances while at work. 
  • Broke laws while on the job. 
  • Shared confidential company information with third parties. 

In certain cases, you might still be able to qualify even if you were terminated. After you submit your claim, your situation will be reviewed. Also, it is important to know that just because you were terminated does not mean that your situation will be viewed as a cause for termination. For instance, if you were laid off, you may still be able to receive UI benefits if you are otherwise eligible.  

In addition to being separated from your employment through no fault of your own, you must meet wage and other work requirements.  This means that you must have earned and worked a minimum amount during what is considered the base period. The first four out of the five most recent calendar quarters before the quarter that you filed for benefits are the base period. The exact wage and work requirements you must meet depends on the state that you live in. However, this information comes from your base period. 

How to Receive Your UI Benefits

Once you are approved for unemployment insurance benefits, you will be able to receive them for a certain length of time. This depends on your state’s regulations. Most UI programs limit benefits to 26 weeks. However, if unemployment is particular high, benefits may be extended.

To continue collecting benefits after approval, you must submit a new claim weekly or biweekly. Along with your claim you must submit evidence of job search efforts and any income you earned during the week you are claiming benefits for. 

How to Submit an Appeal 

If you are denied benefits by your UI program, you can request an appeal if you disagree with decision. The instructions to do so will be indicated in your denial notice. You will be informed of the reason you were denied and the due date by which you must submit your appeal. Your local Department of Labor office can assist you with any questions or concerns you have about the appeals process.

Your previous employer can submit an appeal as well. Employer can contest an applicant’s eligibility for UI benefits after he or she was approved. However, you have right to appeal a denial for any reason, even if it is due to your former employer.

It is important to be informed about your legal rights if you choose to move forward with an appeals process. For instance, you have the right to hire an attorney and have legal representation for your hearing. 

In addition, you must continue submitting weekly or biweekly claims during your appeals process. This is important so that if you are approved for benefits, you will be able to receive financial aid for all the weeks that you are entitled to benefits. If you fail to do so, you will likely miss out on receiving all the benefits that you qualify for. 

Learn about Unemployment Insurance Benefits

You may be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) if you recently lost your job. However, the reason for your job loss cannot be through your own fault. If you believe that you might be qualified for unemployment benefits, then you can begin your claims process through your state’s program. Most UI programs allow submission online, though you may also be able to apply over the phone, by mail or at a UI branch office.


If you are planning on applying for unemployment benefits, it will be beneficial to learn more about the program and its eligibility requirements. Additionally, it can be helpful to know what to do if you receive a notice of denial, as you may wish to the appeal this decision. On the other hand, it will be beneficial to learn how you can continue receiving benefits if you are accepted into program. 

What are unemployment insurance benefits?

Unemployment benefits are offered by individual state governments. Residents who have lost their employment for reasons that were out of their control may be entitled to receive such benefits. Through this program, applicants gain access to financial assistance for a certain period of time. As a result, this program eases the financial hardship that a job loss can cause while participants find new employment. 

Like any government program, residents must meet specific eligibility requirements to access these benefits. Additionally, the program follows particular regulations that dictate how long a participant can receive assistance, and the amount they will receive. However, some details such as the exact monetary amounts vary by state.

How to Qualify for Unemployment Benefits

In each state, the guidelines for the unemployment insurance program vary slightly. However, the primary qualifying criteria include losing employment due to circumstances that were outside of your control, as well as meeting wage and work requirements. 

To meet work and wage requirements, you must have worked and earned enough during your base period prior to your unemployment. The base period in most states is considered to be the last four out of five calendar quarters prior to the quarter in which you filed for unemployment insurance. 

The amount that you earned and the length of time you worked both determine whether you qualify for UI, as well as how much you will receive and for how long. In certain states, you will be required to satisfy additional criteria before being accepted into the program. 

How to Submit the UI Application

As soon as you become underemployed or unemployed, it is important to submit an application for unemployment benefits. Doing this ensures that you begin collecting your benefits as soon as possible, as you will not receive back pay. 

There are different ways to submit your first UI claim. Depending on which state you live in, you may be able to apply in person, by mail or online. Some offices accept submission through multiple methods, while others only accept one method. 

When completing your unemployment benefits application, you must make sure to answer all questions honestly and accurately. Otherwise, your benefits might be delayed or denied. An unemployment insurance representative can guide you through the application if you need assistance.  

What to Do If You Work in a Different State

Many residents work in a different state than they reside in. Generally, you must file for unemployment insurance in the state that you worked in. If you worked within multiple states, then you may need additional advice from a UI representative. In that case, you can contact the unemployment office in the state you reside in for assistance. 

Information Needed When Filing 

When you first file for benefits, you will need to submit certain information. While the exact information will vary between state UI programs, there are a few commonly requested details. One of the most important pieces of information that you must provide is your full name and contact information. 

Additionally, you will need to provide some identification in the form of a driver’s license or state ID card, and your Social Security Number. Moreover, information about your previous employers and the jobs will also need to be provided, as well as the reason that you lost your job.

How to Continue Receiving UI Benefits

In order to continue receiving UI benefits, you must maintain eligibility. This means that you must continue to meet eligibility criteria every week that you file. While specific requirements will depend on your state program, there are certain general requirements. 

One of the most important actions to take in order to keep your UI benefits is to submit your weekly claims. In these claims, you must report on any income you received during the week, and any jobs that you were offered or that you declined. Moreover, you must provide information about job search efforts or training programs that you participated in. 

Because each state has slightly different work requirements, it is important to check what exactly is required by your UI program. 

Learn About Weekly Filing 

After submitting your first claim, you must continue filing weekly to keep receiving benefits. You must do this even if you are waiting to find out if you are approved for unemployment insurance, or when filing an appeal. If you do not continue submitting weekly claims, you will miss out on financial benefits for the weeks that you failed to file. 

If you are approved for unemployment insurance benefits, your state will deliver the payments either through direct deposit, check or a pre-paid card. Different states will offer different payment options. However, most do allow you to choose your preferred method of payment when submitting your first claim. 

Denial of Benefits

Many applicants receive denials for unemployment insurance benefits. States issue denials through the mail, just like approval letters. Within the notice you will find the reason for denial, along with the steps you can take to make a voluntary appeal. 

You might be denied benefits for a  number of reasons, including being fired from a job because of misconduct or leaving your place of employment due to reasons that are not accepted by UI programs. Additionally, if you are unable to work or you refuse suitable employment offers, you might also be denied. 

No matter the reason for your denial, you still have the right to make an appeal. The instructions to do so are provided in your notice. You must file for an appeal by the date indicated in your letter. Otherwise, the state will deny your appeal.