What is Unemployment Insurance?

unemployment application
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Have you lost your job? If so, you may be eligible to receive unemployment compensation. United States workers who are out of work due to no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, depending on the state they work in.

What is Unemployment Insurance?

Unemployment insurance is compensation provided to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Unemployment provides monetary payments for a specific period of time or until the worker finds a new job.

Unemployment benefits are provided by state unemployment insurance programs within guidelines established by Federal law. Eligibility for unemployment insurance, benefit amounts and the length of time benefits are available are determined by state law.

Who is Eligible to Receive Unemployment Compensation
Depending on your state there may be eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance coverage, including having worked for a certain period of time.

If you meet the eligibility requirements you will be entitled to receive temporary compensation. In many cases, the compensation will be half your earnings, up to a maximum amount.

Unemployment Disqualifications
The following circumstances may disqualify you from collecting unemployment benefits:

  • Quit without good cause
  • Fired for misconduct
  • Resigned because of illness (check on disability benefits)
  • Left to get married
  • Self-employed
  • Involved in a labor dispute

Actively seeking work is a requirement while collecting unemployment. You must be ready, willing, available, and able to work.

When to File for Unemployment
Filing for unemployment should be the first item on your agenda when you've been laid-off.

It might take a few weeks to collect a check, so the sooner you file, the faster you'll get paid. A delay in filing will mean a delay in collecting unemployment benefits.

How to File for Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Contact your State Unemployment Office or State Department of Labor Office for directions on how to file for unemployment compensation. You may be able to file over the phone. In many states, you can file online for unemployment. In general, to file a claim you will need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Alien Registration Card if you're not a US citizen
  • Mailing address including zip code
  • Phone number
  • Names, addresses and dates of employment of all your past employers for the last two years

Collecting Unemployment When You Quit
Can you collect unemployment if you quit your job? It depends. In most cases, if you voluntarily left employment you are not eligible. However, if you left for "good cause" you may be able to collect. "Good cause" is determined by the State Unemployment Office and you will be able to make a case for why you are eligible for benefits.

If your claim is denied, you should be entitled to a hearing where you can plead your case.

Taxes on Unemployment Benefits
The Internal Revenue Service counts unemployment insurance benefits as income, so your check is taxable. Depending on the state, state and federal income tax can be withheld from your check.

Please note: This is general information on unemployment compensation and benefits. Contact your State Unemployment Office for a determination on your specific circumstances.

DISCLAIMER: The private websites, and the information linked to both on and from this site, are opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. This information is not legal advice and is for guidance only.

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