Ultimate Guide to Unemployment Insurance Benefits

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Find out how to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, workers’ compensation, welfare and temporary assistance, and other programs and services.

Each state calculates the maximum amount of unemployment benefits a person can get in its own way.

Some states, such as Georgia and North Carolina, establish the maximum number of weeks that an individual can receive unemployment benefits based on the state’s unemployment rate.

In Florida and North Carolina, the maximum number of weeks a person can get unemployment benefits is 12 weeks, but in Massachusetts, it is 30 weeks.

States in the Southeast have lower maximum weekly unemployment compensation than the rest of the country.

Unemployment Benefits by State (Highest Pay)

1. Washington – $790

2. Massachusetts – $769

3. Minnesota – $717

4. New Jersey – $696

5. Connecticut – $631

Unemployment Benefits by State (Lowest Pay)

1. Mississippi – $235

2. Arizona – $240

3. Louisiana – $247

4. Alabama – $265

5. Florida – $275

The most frequent method of calculating the amount of unemployment benefits is to utilize a percentage of the individual’s base period earnings across states. 

The Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA) is calculated by multiplying the maximum number of weeks by the person’s Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) or by a percentage of base period earnings, whichever is lower. 

Some states, such as Iowa and Pennsylvania, have further variances depending on whether or not the unemployed person is married or has dependents.

1. What is unemployment insurance and what does it cover?

Unemployment insurance benefits are provided by the United States Department of Labor to qualified workers who become jobless due to no fault of their own and fulfill certain additional criteria.

Unemployment insurance is a state-federal program that pays financial compensation to people who are unemployed. Although each state manages its own unemployment insurance program, all states adhere to the same federal criteria.

2. What are the qualifications for unemployment insurance?

You must have lost your employment due to no fault of your own, such as a layoff or business closure, or you must have resigned for a valid reason.

This might indicate that you were urged to do work that was either unlawful or risky. You may also be eligible if you’ve been subjected to personal harassment by your employer that wasn’t connected to your job performance or if you have certain medical problems.

You may be denied benefits if you were fired for misbehavior, breaching business policies, excessive absenteeism, or other self-inflicted reasons.

For your base period, you satisfied the state’s minimum wage criteria, as established by the state where you filed for benefits. This amount varies by state, so do some research to see what the requirements are where you reside. The amount of earnings you make will decide not only if you are eligible, but also how much you will receive in benefits and how long you will receive them, which in most states is up to 26 weeks.

  • You must be physically and intellectually capable of working, as well as accessible to do so. This necessitates the absence of any child or dependent care concerns, as well as the availability of suitable transportation to and from work.
  • You must register with the workforce development or employment development office in your state, which will assist you with your job hunt.
  • If you are chosen, you must participate in mandatory reemployment services.
  • You must submit claims on a weekly or biweekly basis as required.
  • You must be in lawful alien status today and throughout the time you received your base period pay if you are not a U.S. citizen.

Tip: Make your claim for benefits as soon as possible. 

If you wait too long to apply, you may be denied benefits for that week or have them delayed. To authenticate your benefits claim, you’ll need to answer questions. Do this over the phone or online.

Actively job seek and record it. Most states require you to contact a set number of employers each week, in person or online.

Weekly tracking of your job search activities is required. If requested, you must be prepared to produce documentation of your job search.

Any income or job offers should be mentioned. You must declare how much you earned, whether you were paid or not, and if you accepted or refused job offers. All of these items are examples of qualifying wages.

Conduct and record a job search. Most states require you to contact a minimum number of companies each week, in person, online, or otherwise.

Keep a weekly log of your job hunting activities. If requested, you must be prepared to produce documentation of your job search.

Report any earnings or employment offers. You must tell how much you earned, whether you were paid or not, and if you accepted or declined any employment offers. Included in qualifying salaries are gratuities and commissions, as well as board and lodging.

3. How do I file for unemployment insurance?

To get unemployment benefits, you must file a claim with your state’s unemployment insurance program. Depending on the state, claims can be made in person, by phone, or online.

If you lose your job, contact your state’s unemployment insurance program right away.

File your claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in more than one state, the state unemployment insurance agency where you live can assist you file claims in other states.

A claim requires information such as your prior employer’s address and dates of employment. To avoid a delay in your claim, give complete and correct information.

Your first benefit check normally arrives 2–3 weeks after you file.

4. Can I appeal a decision if I am denied benefits?

Every state has a procedure for appealing an unemployment benefit denial. In most cases, you must file your appeal soon. After the agency delivers you notification that your claim has been refused, you have ten to thirty days to appeal. The notification you get may include instructions on how to appeal the decision, as well as an appeal form.

When you file an appeal, a hearing is usually arranged. You will have the opportunity to provide any evidence you have that your claim should have been granted at the hearing. (The same is true for the employer.) If you believe you earned enough to be eligible for unemployment benefits but your company underreported your wages, you might bring in your pay stubs or copies of deposited paychecks to show that you were paid more than the business claimed.

You may also be able to get witness testimony by interrogating witnesses in person or requesting written statements from them. This might be crucial if the reasons for your recent job departure are in question. You might be able to offer testimony from coworkers who observed the harassment or a statement from your doctor stating that your health was suffering as a result of the harassment if the unemployment agency finds that you freely departed but really left because of persistent sexual harassment.

Your appeal will be decided by the person conducting the hearing. Even if the employer appeals the judgment to a higher level of review, if you win and are given unemployment benefits, you are entitled to continue receiving them. Essentially, once you receive a favorable ruling, you are eligible for unemployment benefits until a different decision is made.

In some jurisdictions, if you are denied unemployment benefits during the hearing, you can request a second level of agency review. This implies that the first appeal judgment can be appealed by either you or the employer to the state unemployment department. Regardless of whether your state offers this second level of internal appeal, you have the right to appeal to the state’s judicial system.

5. What are the possible consequences of committing fraud?

When it comes to performing acts of fraud with relation to unemployment benefits, each state has its own set of rules.

You will be subject to fraud if you lie, deceive, or steal to obtain unemployment insurance benefits.

You will not only be ineligible for benefits, but you will also face the risk of being accused legally and facing fines or jail time, implying that a lack of benefits will not be your largest issue.

The United States Department of Labor has required that, beginning October 1, 2014, all unemployment compensation payments issued on or after October 21, 2013 that are judged to be fraudulent by the Agency would be imposed a monetary penalty of 15%.

This 15% penalty is in addition to the amount of the overpayment that was fraudulently made.

Claimants who deliberately make false claims, fabricate work search contacts, or conceal critical information in order to receive or enhance benefits may be disqualified for up to one year after their benefit year ends. They may also face civil or criminal charges, as well as jail.

6. What other things could disqualify me from receiving unemployment benefits?

Apart from defrauding the system, there are a number of additional reasons why you might be denied unemployment benefits:

  1. You are paid on a part-time basis or for whatever task you do, including tips. Wages must be recorded when they are earned, not when they are paid, in almost all states.
  2. You failed to declare any commissions earned.
  3. You did not include any vacation or holiday compensation in your report.
  4. No severance compensation was reported by you.
  5. Worker’s Compensation was paid to you.
  6. You received disability compensation from your company.
  7. You were given monies from your employer’s pension plan.
  8. You received unemployment benefits from another state.
  9. You’ve been given back pay.
  10. Because to your frequent absenteeism, you were dismissed.
  11. Because of your intentional wrongdoing, you were dismissed.
  12. While you were working, you committed a felony.
  13. You were a part of an illegal strike.
  14. You started serving a sentence of more than 30 days in jail or prison.
  15. You breached drug and alcohol tests that prohibited you from the task you were contracted to conduct
  16. You deliberately quit your job for no apparent reason.
  17. After filing for unemployment benefits, you were not ready, willing, or able to accept job. This may involve things such as a family emergency, a personal medical issue or other similar sorts of things.

7. How can I get more information?

Below is a list of each state’s unemployment benefits guide, phone numbers and office locations:

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Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

1 thought on “Ultimate Guide to Unemployment Insurance Benefits”

  1. I am been unable to get unemployment from The state that I live in now cause when I lost my job I had to move from Florida is there anything that you can do to help me get my unemployment

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