How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are typically distributed monthly through checks or direct deposit to substitute for a working wage.

This federal Unemployment Insurance (UI) program is funded by the Department of Labor (DOL) in order to distribute unemployment payments throughout the nation.

Before applying for these benefits, applicants are required to meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify.

On a national level, the Department of Labor establishes general guidelines on how the UI program should be managed.

For example, the DOL will set guidelines on things such as the number of payable benefits, the criteria for eligibility and the application process and methods.

However, it is important to note that individual states are given the authority to set additional requirements or methods to apply for unemployment insurance.

Applicants are recommended to learn about their state’s specific requirements and procedures for filing an unemployment claim in advance.

Learn About the Benefits of Unemployment Insurance

Typically, benefits from unemployment insurance lasts for a limited amount of time for participants.

Each state can set limits on how long beneficiaries can receive financial assistance from unemployment insurance.

In general, the benefits that a participant is entitled to will be based on a percentage of their earnings over a recent period of time, usually 52 weeks.

During periods of high unemployment, the government may approve the use of extended benefits.

The benefits of unemployment insurance are intended to supplement the wages of workers who have lost their jobs.

This may help applicants who are struggling to pay rent and other living expenses.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits in the United States?

In order to receive any unemployment benefits in the United States, eligible individuals must file for an unemployment claim with their state’s UI agency.

Depending on the state, the specific process for registering for unemployment insurance may vary.

Applicants will be required to follow the unemployment registration procedure for the state where they were formerly employed.

If you have moved to a different state from your former place of employment or if you have had several jobs around the country, you will need to visit the UI office in your current state for more information.

Most states allow unemployed workers to apply for UI over the internet.

Applying online is usually the most convenient method due to the comprehensive instructions that are provided to applicants.

Certain states allow applicants to file for unemployment by mailing a paper application or by providing a UI agent with the necessary information over the phone.

It is important for claimants to understand the application process to ensure that they do not miss out on their unemployment benefits.

Learn About Requirements for Filing an Unemployment Claim

Generally, applicants must meet all of the state and federal requirements before they are eligible for unemployment insurance.

For example, all former workers who are applying for UI must have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

Some common reasons for this can include a reduction in available working hours or company layoffs.

Additionally, former employees must have earned a specific amount of wages during their working tenure in the months leading to their unemployment.

When applying for unemployment insurance, you will need to provide the following documents and information:

  • Your full name and Social Security Number.
  • Contact information such as your phone number and your residential and mailing addresses.
  • The dates you were employed at a job and an explanation stating why you are no longer employed.
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of all your employers in the last 18 months.
  • Your gross wages earned.

Unlike other government assistance programs, you will not need to submit your credit information or work to improve your credit.

When applying, one option you have is to contact the UI agency and provide the necessary information over the phone.

Alternatively, you may download a paper application, fill it out and submit it in person at your state’s Unemployment Insurance office.

Applicants also have the option to mail the required information and documents directly to the unemployment insurance office.

Some states offer additional assistance options for individuals who require help filing an unemployment claim.

Certain state UI agencies permit applicants to receive assistance from a close friend or relative during the registration process.

For example, UI applicants living with a disability may recruit another individual to help them to file an unemployment claim.

However, in these cases, the applicant must be present at all times and they will maintain accountability for all actions taken by the representative during a UI benefits application.

How to Prepare to Apply for Unemployment Insurance

Before beginning the process of filing an unemployment registration claim, you can prepare yourself by gathering certain documents and information that you may require.

In some states, you can file your claim for unemployment benefits even if you do not have all of the necessary items and information when you first apply.

However, you will still be responsible for providing all of the missing documents and information at a later date.

Failure to provide the necessary items can cause you unemployment benefits to be delayed or canceled.

You can prepare for your unemployment claim before you even begin the application process.

If possible, try to gather pertinent documents like a valid driver’s license and your Social Security Number.

You should also gather any information possible, such as your wages for the last 18 months of your employment.

It is important to keep in mind that the required documents and information may vary depending on which state you are applying in.

What do I do after I submit my claim for unemployment benefits?

After submitting your application for unemployment insurance, you will be mandated to meet some established requirements before you can receive your benefit checks.

For example, most states have a work requirement if you are a beneficiary of the unemployment insurance program, although there are usually some exceptions.

Generally, you will be required to be registered to work through a local workforce center.

You must also be actively looking for a new job online in order to meet the criteria for receiving UI benefits. Though finding a new job may be difficult, UI benefits are only meant to be a temporary solution.