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How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

Jacky Hayward | HRPeople

March 18, 2009

Once you have been laid off, one of the first things you are likely to think about is how you are going to replace your income. Unemployment Insurance (UI) was established by the government to provide unemployment benefits to workers who become unemployed due to factors outside their control to financially assist them while they are looking for employment. UI is a joint federal-state program with money coming from the federal and state governments but the administration coming from the state, so the rules determining eligibility vary as well as the benefits received depending on the state in which you live. This article is thus intended to serve as a general guide to unemployment insurance.

What to Expect when Applying for Unemployment Insurance

To apply for unemployment insurance, you must first contact your state’s unemployment agency. Career One Step has a map of all the state unemployment agencies, which will be a good place to find out more about your state’s agency. With the increase in layoffs, there has also been an increased number of individuals requesting unemployment insurance. Many unemployment offices are holding longer hours but there is still a backlog. In this manner, if your state unemployment agency allows you to, applying online will likely expedite the application process.

Once you have applied for unemployment insurance, most states will verify your unemployment in some way; this may mean a short phone interview, an in person interview with an unemployment officer, or further verification via USPS mail. After your unemployment department has received your claim and all necessary verification, they will calculate your unemployment benefits on your past salary, usually using your last year and a half of salaried time. Your UI benefits will be proportional to your past salary, but will often cap out at a certain point, depending, again, on your state. In addition, it is likely it will take a few weeks for you to receive your first unemployment check after your local agency has received all the necessary materials.

Next: What to Keep in Mind Once you Have Applied

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