If you’ve recently lost your job, worrying about bills and expenses can be overwhelming. Luckily, you can apply for unemployment insurance between jobs to help you get by until you gain employment again. But you may be asking yourself: What is unemployment insurance? And how does it work?
If you need to file your first unemployment insurance claim, look no further. We’ve broken down the system into easy-to-understand sections so you can receive your first check.
What Is Unemployment Insurance?
Unemployment Insurance is a state-federal program that provides money to unemployed people. It’s intended to provide temporary financial assistance to those who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own. Each state determines the benefit based on your previous earnings. It is subject to both state and federal taxes.
Who Is Eligible?
Every state has different eligibility requirements, but there are similarities for each state. Every state requires that you are unemployed through no fault of your own, and most states require that you were unable to work your last job because of a lack of available work. You must also meet the state’s requirements for earned wages or time worked, known as a “base period.” To find your state’s requirements, visit your state’s website or an unemployment benefits locator site.
If you’re looking for unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided additional resources and flexibility for state unemployment insurance. This act allows states to offer unemployment insurance for people out of work due to the pandemic who wouldn’t ordinarily be eligible.
How to Apply?
Contact your state’s unemployment insurance program or apply online as soon as possible after becoming unemployed, because you will likely wait two to three weeks before receiving your first benefit check. You can file your first claim on the website. When you’re filing, you’ll be asked where you worked, how long you worked there, and employment addresses. Make sure to give accurate information so you aren’t denied.
How to Stay Eligible?
Unemployment Insurance benefits mandate that you actively search for work and be available to work. To stay eligible, you must provide proof of applying for jobs and report any earned income. You will either file weekly or biweekly claims, depending on your state.
If you’re unemployed during COVID-19 outbreak, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act doesn’t require that you actively seek work to stay eligible.
How Long You Can Use It?
You can receive unemployment for 26 weeks in most states. However, extended benefits may be eligible during times of higher unemployment rates. When there is increased unemployment, the Federal Reserve grants the Treasury money, and Congress budgets the money for state unemployment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has extended unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks.
Applying for unemployment insurance doesn’t have to be stressful. Unemployment Insurance is always there if you need it to get back on your feet.