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Applying For Unemployment Benefits After Losing a Job

After you lose a job, you can feel depressed and overwhelmed. It's a natural reaction, as many can feel like a part of their identity has been lost. That coupled with an unwelcoming job market can make job loss very traumatic indeed. The next logical step is often applying for unemployment benefits. However, you will need to act quickly to make sure you get the most out of your unemployment insurance benefits. 

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

Since unemployment insurance is managed by each state, the process for applying for unemployment can vary. However, it is generally an easy one intended to be handled without a lawyer.

You'll generally need to fill out a brief questionnaire with your contact information and the details of your past job. Someone at your state's labor agency will confirm this information with your past employer. The unemployment officer may ask for proof, like recent paystubs, or your social security card.

It's best to start this process as soon as possible after losing your job. You cannot begin to receive unemployment benefits until after you file for them, no matter how long ago you lost your job.

How Benefits are Calculated

Again, this varies by state. In general, it's some portion of your average weekly pay for the past two financial quarters, which is roughly six months. Your benefits cannot exceed a cap that is determined by the states.

Receiving Unemployment Benefits

After your state's department of labor (or similar applicable agency) verifies the claim for unemployment insurance, you will start receiving unemployment checks each week that you file a continuing claim, which simply verifies that you are still unemployed and looking for work. By default, workers are entitled to 26 weeks of benefits, however, the federal government can decide to extend that in times of economic hardship.

While receiving benefits, you are allowed to work part-time and receive small payments on the side. However, many states will deduct any additional pay you receive, including disability, severance pay, and part time wages, from your benefits.

For more information, see FindLaw's unemployment insurance section.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified employment attorney to make sure
your rights are protected.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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