Unemployment insurance provides weekly cash payments and job training to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Unemployment insurance is administered by individual states and each state has its own rules. However, the federal government works with state labor departments to cover gaps in state benefits.


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Unemployment insurance provides weekly cash payments and job training to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Unemployment insurance is administered by individual states and each state has its own rules. However, the federal government works with state labor departments to cover gaps in state benefits.

Qualifications

To qualify for unemployment insurance, workers must not be responsible to their dismissal. Acceptable reasons for separation from a job include layoffs, downsizing and company shutdown. People who leave their job voluntarily usually do not qualify for unemployment insurance. However, states provide exceptions for people who quit jobs due to unsafe working conditions, documented harassment or very serious health issues that were exacerbated by the work. Workers who are let go for misconduct or performing their job inadequately are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Applicants must also have been employed for four of the last five quarters, even if it wasn't with the same employer.

Application

Most states allow you to apply for UI benefits online. Applicants need to provide their name, date of birth, Social Security number and address, along with information about their previous job. Workers must provide the employer's name and contact information, the date employment ended and the reason they were let go. A case worker will contact the employer to verify the information the applicant gives and determine if the worker is eligible for benefits. If the case worker decides against the employee, he can appeal the decision and provide additional evidence to back his claim. This can include work records, performance reviews and statements from other employees.

Benefit Amount

Each state determines benefit amounts differently. In general, the calculations involve the average income and hours worked for the previous five quarters to determine how much and for how long the beneficiary can receive benefits. Workers receive only a portion of their average weekly income, which can vary from 54 to 26 percent depending on the state.

Continuing Benefits

People who receive unemployment benefits must actively try to reenter the workforce. States require beneficiaries to document their job search activities, including the names of the companies to which they sent applications or resumes, the dates of application or resume submission and the outcome. Workers are also required to accept any reasonable job offers. This is usually defined as a job in which the nature of the work is not drastically different from your previous job and the pay is not significantly lower.

Time Limit

UI benefits are only available for limited time, but each state sets its own maximum up to the federal limit of 26 weeks. In times of wide-spread unemployment, the federal government can increase this limit to 99 weeks. However, states do not have to continue offering benefits past their own set maximum.

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