unemployment claim form on a table with a pen and a pair of glasses

How to File for Unemployment Benefits

If you have recently found yourself unemployed, you’re probably dealing with the shock of losing your job in addition to the stress of finding a new one. Fortunately, though, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

To find out, you’ll need to learn how to file for unemployment online and, if approved, how to maintain its benefits.


Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment insurance is offered through a joint federal-state program to help offset the lost wages of the unemployed. The program provides temporary payments to qualifying former employees until they find another job. To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be out of work involuntarily through no fault of your own.


person filling out unemployment benefit paperwork


How to File for Unemployment

To file an unemployment claim, you first need to research how to file for unemployment in your state and contact your local unemployment agency. Though the basic steps to file for unemployment benefits are similar in most states, the telephone number and site to file through vary.

Once you’ve contacted your local unemployment agency, you need to verify your eligibility to receive unemployment benefits. To qualify, you’ll need to be unemployed through no fault of your own and be willing and able to work. Each state also has a minimum income and hours worked threshold for a specific timeframe leading up to your unemployment. You’ll have to verify what yours is with your state’s unemployment agency.

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, it’s time to file an unemployment claim. Most states have options for you to do this online or over the phone through the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) call center. In some cases, you may be able to apply at the unemployment agency’s office.


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Maintaining Unemployment Benefits

Once you have filed an unemployment claim, you should receive a letter in the mail stating whether or not you have been approved. If you were not approved, you could file an appeal through your agency’s appeals process. Reasons for denial of unemployment benefits include being fired for serious misconduct as outlined by the state’s laws, quitting voluntarily, or not meeting the income requirements or minimum hours worked for your state.

If you were approved, there are certain steps you’ll need to take to maintain your unemployment benefits. To continue receiving unemployment benefits, you’ll need to show that you are actively seeking work and report your efforts to the unemployment agency weekly. Failure to do so might result in the termination of benefits. If you have any income while receiving unemployment benefits, it might reduce the amount of benefits you receive as well.


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How Long Do Unemployment Benefits Last?

Once you are gainfully employed, your unemployment benefits will cease. Assuming that all criteria are continuously met, you may receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, depending on your state.

With the challenges of finding a job and the demands of economic downturns, programs have been put in place to extend the length of time someone can receive benefits. However, these programs are not always available, so you’ll have to speak with your local unemployment agency to determine the length of time for which you’ll be eligible to receive benefits.


Filing for unemployment benefits is a smart move. Though unemployment benefits are not meant to fully replace the income from your previous job, they nonetheless provide peace of mind by providing some financial security during your job search.

By iHire | February 04, 2020
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