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How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in the United States


If you are currently unemployed, you’ll be thrilled to learn that the US Government offers benefits for you during the time that you are looking for a job. These benefits will allow you to continue supporting your family, and they can carry you over until you find the next job.

See also: How Unemployment Affects Our Mental Health

Thankfully, claiming the benefits is surprisingly easy! Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Find out if you are eligible

Not everyone is eligible for unemployment benefits. Each state sets its own rules of eligibility, so you need to log onto the State Unemployment Insurance Office to find out what you are eligible for according to your state and Zip Code.

Step 2: Find out how to file the claim

Once you have logged onto your state page on the State Unemployment Insurance Office website, you will be provided with links to:

  • General information (on eligibility, etc.)
  • Information on how to file a claim via the Internet
  • Information on how to file a claim by phone
  • Information to help you find a new job

You’ll want to visit the Career One Stop website to aid in your job search, but for now, figure out if you want to make the claim via telephone or the Internet.

Step 3: Gather the documents

You will need to have all the proper documents on hand: your Social Security Number, a list of your employers in the past, the addresses of these employers, and the dates of your employment at these companies. This will help you prove that you have actually worked and thus can claim unemployment benefits.

Step 4: Submit the application

On the State Unemployment Insurance Office website, you’ll find the directions for submitting your application online, or you can do it via the telephone number provided. You can also do it in person if you want. Make sure to do it ASAP, as it takes a while for the claim to be processed and for that first unemployment check to be sent to the address you provided.

Step 5: Register with Employment Services

In order for you to qualify for unemployment benefits, you need to prove that you are actively looking for a job. Registering with the Employment Services Office in your state will be that proof. You can receive a wide range of free services, including help placing you in a good new job.

Step 6: Appear when necessary

You may need to show up at the Employment Services Office on occasion, and you MUST make an appearance when requested. The unemployment benefits can be cancelled at any time if the Employment Services Office believes you aren’t trying to find a job.

See also: How to Make a Comeback After Years of Unemployment

Your unemployment benefits are calculated according to the income that you earned over the last year, on a weekly basis (52 weeks). You are able to claim up to 26 weeks (half a year) of unemployment benefits in most of the United States, though there may be exceptions made during periods when unemployment is very high.

It’s fairly easy to apply for unemployment benefits. Thanks to these benefits, you can keep your family above water as you search for a new job!

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