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. Below you will find key information about how to apply for unemployment benefits, how benefits are calculated, and more. Remember, if you believe you been wrongfully denied unemployment benefits, you should speak with an experieneced lawyer to learn more about your options.
For more information, see FindLaw's unemployment insurance section.
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. In California, for instance, the benefits period is in line with the other states, capped at 26 weeks.
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.
Unemployment Benefits: Additional Resources
Questions About Unemployment Benefits? A Labor Attorney Can Help
Getting denied unemployment benefits can not only be disheartening, it can cause serious financial stress to you and your family. If you're contemplating applying for benefits and want more information or have applied and been denied, you may want to contact a local employment attorney for assistance.
Contact a qualified employment attorney to make sure your rights are protected.