How to Claim
Unemployment Benefit

Claim unemployment benefit as soon as possible after losing your job. Unemployment insurance will provide some financial relief and help you pay the bills. Find out how to sign up for unemployment benefits. 

1. Do I qualify for unemployment?

Eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined by each State according to the applicable State and Federal laws under which unemployment insurance claims are established.

You can find out about unemployment eligibility at qualifying for unemployment.

Keep in mind that eligibility for unemployment can only be determined once you have filed a claim - the state unemployment office cannot make a predetermination of eligibility before a claim is filed.

2. What documents do I need to claim unemployment benefit?

This will vary from state to state but in general you should gather the following documents and information to prepare your unemployment claim. Make sure you have all the required information. Not providing complete and correct information can delay your claim.

  • Social Security number
  • Driver License number, Motor Vehicle ID Card number or state ID number
  • Your complete mailing address plus zip code
  • Telephone numbers where you can be reached during working hours
  • Names of all past employers (as it appears on your pay stub), their full addresses (payroll addresses),  wages earned and dates of employment for the last two years
  • The Employer Registration number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your most recent employer (on your W-2 form)
  • Information on the method of payment you have chosen for your benefits eg. direct deposit into your bank account
  • Alien Registration Number for non US Citizens
  • If any of your employers provided you with an Unemployment Compensation Notice to Employee (Form UIA 1711) have the form available

3. How do I file my claim?

In many places you can file your unemployment claim online. Other places require you to file your claim over the phone. There are a few states where you have to apply in person.

Find out what your state requires at UI Filing Assistance where you can click on the state concerned to get information on how to claim unemployment benefit.

It can take a few weeks before your first check is ready so it is best to file a claim as soon as possible after losing your job.

File your claim during your first week of total or partial unemployment - waiting may cause you to lose benefits.

4. How much will I receive?

Most states base your benefit entitlement on gross wages paid in the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters preceding your claim. Each state has a weekly maximum benefit amount.

5. What happens if my unemployment claim is turned down?

If your claim for unemployment is refused by the state unemployment office or contested by your ex-employer you have the right to appeal the decision.

The state will advise you of your appeal rights. Generally you will be required to file your appeal within a specified time period.

This guide to surviving a layoff will help you get back into the job market.

Know your layoff rights

Are your eligible to claim unemployment benefit?

Find out how to deal successfully with job interview questions about layoffs.

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Disclaimer: "Claim Unemployment Benefit" is for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the laws and regulations that apply to unemployment insurance benefits.

Readers are advised to contact their state unemployment office with any questions they may have.

Job Interviews > Layoffs > How to Claim Unemployment Benefit

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