A Guide To Unemployment Benefits

A Guide To Unemployment Benefits

If you're unemployed, you might be in a rush to find a new job. Dealing with the lack of health insurance and income, you may feel high pressure to find new employment. Fortunately, there's a program in place to buy you some time while you search for a new job. Unemployment insurance is a government program designed to support those who meet specific eligibility requirements.

What is Unemployment Insurance?

Because unemployment insurance is an extensive program, it's hard to sum it up in a few paragraphs. The benefits are administered by the federal government and are only for individuals who are unemployed and considered eligible based on state requirements.

Before you apply for unemployment benefits, there's one important detail you should know. The program is not a permanent form of assistance. It's temporary and has the sole intention of getting you through the time it takes to find a new position.

Although there are several criteria for receiving unemployment, the most essential detail is the reason for your unemployment. If you were at fault for the unemployment, you aren't eligible for unemployment benefits. Misconduct and quitting without a cause make you ineligible for the program.

Is it a State or Federal Program?

Unemployment is a federal program, but each state is in charge of its own separate program. So, every state must comply with certain federal requirements but has the flexibility to adjust other details.

For instance, the length of time of the benefits and the amount of benefits often vary by state. The eligibility requirements also tend to vary by state. However, no matter where you are, the federal requirements dictate you must be under or unemployed.

There's only one way to learn whether or not you qualify and what your specific benefits will be - to research your state unemployment benefits. But, before you do that, it's helpful to know a bit more about the program.

How to Qualify and Apply

If you believe you qualify for unemployment, your first step is to find out your eligibility. Have you met the minimum employment period? If you've only been working for a few weeks, you probably don't qualify. There's also a minimum wage total you need to meet or surpass.

Most importantly, consider your reason for unemployment. Did you quit because you didn't feel like working? Unless you have a legitimate reason for quitting, you won't be eligible for the benefits. If you were fired, you could only receive benefits if you didn't do anything wrong.

Whether you know you're eligible or you simply have questions about your eligibility, call your state unemployment office for help. They can confirm your eligibility and help you through the process.

The Process

While there are some slight variations in the process, there are a few steps you should expect to take. For example, you need to provide details about your previous employer. This includes the company's name and address along with the reason for your departure.

In some states, applicants can submit their information online or over the phone. However you apply, be sure to remain truthful. In addition to being denied for a false application, you may face other consequences. If you receive benefits after lying on an application, you will need to pay the government back in full.

Why People Get Denied

Filling out an application for unemployment isn't a guarantee of benefits. It's not unusual for the office to deny applications. Generally, you'll find out about the denial via a notice in the mail. Your denial could be for any one of the following reasons:

Leaving Work Without a Cause

You need to have a good reason for quitting a job. If you can't provide an adequate reason for leaving, you won't have any success. Most recipients of unemployment were laid off or fired.

Misconduct or Misbehavior

Your boss could fire you for any number of reasons, but misconduct and misbehavior are the only two that will exclude you from unemployment.

Unavailable for Work

When you have unrealistic expectations for a work schedule or hours, you can't seek unemployment. You must be available to work within reason. If someone offers you a position, you need to have a good excuse for turning it down.

Being Intentionally Inaccurate

If you make an unintentional mistake on your application, there may not be severe consequences. But intentionally putting wrong information on your resume is fraud and could come back to hurt you.

How Much Will You Get?

After you apply for unemployment and receive a letter about your acceptance, you can receive your benefits. They could come as a check, debit card, or direct deposit. It's impossible to say how much money you will receive because each state has different maximum amounts. However, you can never get more than the maximum.

In most states, you are eligible for half of your earnings. The benefits last for a maximum of 26 weeks, but this period could be shorter or longer depending on your location. To learn more about how much you'll receive, reach out to your unemployment office.

It's worth mentioning that your benefits are taxable income. When you file your federal tax returns, you need to include your unemployment benefits.

What You Have to Do to Maintain Your Benefits

Being approved for unemployment isn't the final action you need to take. If you want to continue to receive benefits, you need to file weekly or biweekly claims. In those claims, you report earnings from any work opportunities. As long as the number is under the maximum, you can still receive benefits.

Your claim should also include any job offers you accepted or declined. If you aren't actively looking for work, you can't keep your benefits. Your local office might have other requirements, and you must comply with those.

Getting Back on Track

For whatever reason you're unemployed, one fact remains true. Getting a job offer isn't easy. Although unemployment benefits can help you through a tough time, they won't get you a job. It's up to you to search for a new position and take all the steps to stand out from the other candidates.

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