Do I Qualify For Unemployment?

As individuals have continued to lose their jobs and wait for the long delayed economic recovery that the country has been hoping for, many people are faced with this task of answering the question: “Do I Qualify For Unemployment?”  It can be a complex question to answer, especially for those who are not trained in unemployment law and are facing the prospect of trying to qualify for unemployment for the first time.

Unemployment benefits are overseen by the United States government but are managed on a localized level by your individual state department of social services (sometimes also known as the state department of welfare also).  Because there is a joint management of unemployment benefits throughout the country there is a set of standard national rules that all states use but each individual state is also given discretion on certain eligibility standards.  These different rules and standards will be discussed in more detail below.

How to Qualify For Unemployment Benefits

There are several different aspects of your prior employment that your state department of welfare will examine at the time that you file your application for unemployment insurance.  First, the state will want to see who you have worked for and how much money you made.  This is important for a few different reasons.  In order to receive any type of unemployment benefit from the state you need to first show that you have been contributing to the unemployment system in the form of payroll taxes.  In most states the payroll tax is contributed by your employer and is based as a percentage of the money you make each paycheck with the employer.  Each state will require you to have paid in a sufficient amount of funds into the unemployment tax system before you can receive benefits.  The department of unemployment can tell whether you have contributed a sufficient amount of funds by examining how much money you made and what type of employer you had before you lost your job (not all employers are required to pay and if you worked for one of those types of employers you may be ineligible for benefit compensation).

Beyond making sure that you paid a sufficient amount of funds into the unemployment taxes system, you should ensure that you have earned your income during a key period of time that is described in most states as the “Base Period.”  The technical definition for the Base Period is the “first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters.”  In other words, you need to skip over the quarter you are in at the time that you file for unemployment insurance and the quarter just before the current one and then add up the next four continuous calendar quarters to calculate what your Base Period is.  Each state will require you to have earned a minimum amount of income in this time period.  See your particular state’s requirements for more information on how you meet this qualification.

Beyond how much money you made and where you worked, the state will look at why you lost your job.  Benefits are specifically earmarked for people who have “innocently” become unemployed or suffer from underemployment.  As you try to answer the question of: “Do I Qualify For Unemployment?” you need to be honest about why you are currently unemployed.  For example, did you lose your job because you quit or were insubordinate in any way?  The employer you were just working for will receive a notice that you are filing for unemployment benefits and will have the right to contest the fact that you want to claim benefits.  Be sure that they do not have a legitimate claim against you as you move forward.

Source: dol.gov/dol/topic/unemployment-insurance/

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