Learn About the Requirements for Unemployment

Unemployment compensation (UC) is available to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. This program is also referred to as unemployment insurance (UI), and there is no difference between the two terms. While the program is available throughout the country, individual states are responsible for establishing enrollment requirements that petitioners must meet. This means that claimants must be sure to apply for UI in the states where they were working.

When determining eligibility for unemployment, state governments will examine various details relating to claimants’ work histories. For example, the departments in charge of evaluating applications will review how much petitioners earned in wages during while they were working full time. Likewise, state governments will also assess whether or not the applicants were responsible for losing their jobs. In any case, state departments evaluate petitioners’ unemployment insurance eligibility on an ongoing basis. This means that claimants can apply at any time during the year, and UI case workers will evaluate their petitions. Therefore, applicants must submit their claims as soon as they become unemployed if they wish to receive benefits as soon as possible.

What are the requirements to get unemployment?

Eligibility for unemployment varies by state. While there are some general requirements that applicants across the country must meet, individual state departments are responsible for determining who can receive UC. However, some general unemployment insurance eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Covered employment – UI funds are paid by petitioners’ former employers. Therefore, this requirement states that claimants need to have been working for companies or individuals who paid these state and federal UC taxes.
  • Past income – One of the qualifications for unemployment relates to how much petitioners were earning before they lost their jobs. To determine if claimants meet this requirement, state departments will evaluate how much income applicants earned in the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. This is referred to as the candidate’s base period.
  • Distribution of earnings – After UI case workers establish the petitioners’ base periods, they will also review when exactly the applicants earned these wages. Often, claimants must have earned income during at least two of the four quarters in their base periods.

When deciding who qualifies for unemployment, state departments also take into account how claimants lost their jobs. This is an important factor when deciding who can receive UI because only candidates who are unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control may enroll in the program. In most cases, this means that applicants were laid off due to work shortages or fired without cause. They may also be eligible for benefits if they lost their jobs because their places of employment closed. However, eligibility for UI does not usually extend to applicants who are unemployed for the following reasons:

  • Quitting – In most cases, applicants who quit may not receive UC. This is especially true if the employees resigned because they did not like their jobs.
  • No transportation – Generally, petitioners may not receive UI if they quit because they have no transportation to go to and from work. This also shows that claimants will likely be unable to work in the near future.
  • Lack of child care – Candidates who are unable to go to work because they needed to stay home and take care of children usually will not qualify for UC. This also shows that petitioners do not currently have full work availability.
  • Fired for neglect – If claimants were fired from their previous jobs because they neglected their responsibilities or willfully broke company rules, they may not receive UI funds.

How to Maintain Unemployment Insurance

Claimants must prove that they meet their state’s unemployment insurance eligibility requirements each week they collect benefits. Generally, petitioners file these reports online or by phone. In any case, UC recipients need to provide their state departments with accurate, updated information that proves they still qualify to receive compensation.

Each week enrollees collect funds through their unemployment benefits claim, they are required to report any earnings they received during the weeks they are claiming. Petitioners must be honest when they disclose this information. If the state department learns that applicants underreported their earnings, enrollees will be required to pay back whatever excess funds they received. In some cases, they may also be charged with fraud.

Likewise, applicants who wish to claim unemployment benefits also need to disclose how they searched for re-employment opportunities during their UC enrollment weeks. Some states require enrollees to complete a certain number of tasks each week, which could include contacting potential employers or sending out resumes. However, this varies by state, and petitioners should check with their UC departments to determine if they are meeting the requirements to continue claiming benefits for unemployment in their area. Additionally, beneficiaries must certify that they have full work availability. This means that enrollees cannot have scheduling conflicts that would prohibit them from working. Also, claimants need to verify that they are physically able to work.

Can I receive unemployment insurance if I am working?

Some petitioners may be concerned that their eligibility for unemployment will be affected if they continue working. State rules vary regarding this requirement, but in most cases, applicants may work part time and still receive UC. However, enrollees must remember that the earnings they receive from their part-time or contracted work may impact how much they can collect through the UI program. Furthermore, some petitioners may claim unemployment benefits even if they have not lost their jobs but have experienced a reduction in work hours and are no longer working full time. To qualify under this category, applicants will need to prove that they did not do anything that required their supervisors to make this change to their schedules.

How long can I receive unemployment insurance?

Unemployment insurance benefits are only intended to support recipients for a short period of time until they find new full-time work. Therefore, these funds are not a long-term solution to job loss. Most states permit beneficiaries to collect funds for 26 weeks during a calendar year. However, this number varies across the nation depending on local unemployment rates and economic conditions.