Unemployment insurance (UI) as it is known today first came into formation in 1935. That August, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into effect the Social Security Bill, which contained information that laid the foundation for UI. Also referred to as unemployment compensation (UC), this program receives its funding through taxes that employers pay at federal and state levels. This structure remains the same throughout the country. However, the program has undergone some changes since its inception during the Great Depression.
Petitioners who successfully submit an unemployment claim are eligible to collect some of the tax funds their employers have paid. Generally, the candidates most likely to qualify for UI have lost their jobs for reasons beyond their control. Also, these petitioners meet their states’ work search and employment availability requirements. However, unemployment insurance benefits rules are not completely uniform across the country, and they are updated as time passes. Therefore, prospective candidates and current enrollees need to make sure they stay aware of these requirements. Applicants who fail to adhere to new legislative changes regarding UI may risk not being able to collect program benefits.
Learn About Unemployment Insurance Through the Years
Throughout history, claimants must follow specific unemployment rules in order to collect benefits in their employers’ states. Even though this program has been available for decades, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will update certain processes or requirements if they seem outdated. During UC’s lifespan, the department has made alterations to the unemployment laws and enrollment procedures that petitioners needed to adhere to. Many of these alterations related to advances in technology that were occurring at the time.
For example, enrollees used to receive a paper unemployment check whenever they needed to receive benefits. Often, this meant that claimants needed to go to their local UI office and obtain these documents in person. Now, petitioners usually receive their funds through electronic deposits onto a state-issued card or into a personal bank account. Furthermore, there have also been changes regarding how petitioners submit their UC claims. Today, petitioners can apply for unemployment online, which allows them to submit their claims remotely. In the past, applicants needed to visit their UI office in person or mail in their requests. These procedural adjustments allow candidates to more conveniently apply for UC and receive program benefits.
Find Out About Unemployment Insurance Rule Changes for Military Members
Military personnel noticed a change regarding who can claim unemployment benefits after the National Defense Authorization Act in 2015. Specifically, this legislation affected members of the Reserves. With this act, Reserves members now need to have served 180 days of continued active service in order for their time to be classified as Federal Service. In past years, military members only needed to serve for 90 days. Military candidates are only able to apply for unemployment compensation for ex-service members (UCX) if they serve for 180 days and also meet the following requirements:
- Have demonstrated satisfactory conduct while in the Reserves
- Are not collecting retirement from the Armed Forces
- Were discharged under honorable circumstances
About Unemployment Insurance Updates by State
Furthermore, unemployment rules for enrollment and funding structures may also change on a state-by-state basis. Even though the federal government plays a large part in how these programs function, individual states are able to instill their own rules, as well. Examples of some of these updates include:
- Arkansas, 2015 – AR redefined the term “unemployment” to exclude any agricultural work that immigrants performed if they were admitted to the United States under particular immigration acts.
- Delaware, 2015 – When evaluating an unemployment claim, petitioners who claim to be “partially unemployed individuals” must be working less than their regular full-time hours for their employers due to a lack of work. These workers can file claims for partial UI.
- Delaware, 2016 – Individuals will be disqualified from collecting benefits if they knowingly and willfully misrepresent their situations to collect UC.
- Georgia, 2015 – In the past, GA defined a claimant’s “most recent employer” as the last liable employer they worked for who paid UI coverage. Now, “most recent employer” simply refers to whoever the claimant last worked for.
- Maryland, 2016 – Under certain circumstances, nail technicians who have limited licenses and apply for unemployment insurance may not be able to receive funding because their work is not considered “covered employment.”
About Updates for Federal Unemployment Insurance Rules
Across the nation, unemployment insurance benefits are available to qualified petitioners who recently lost full-time work. Individual states have some jurisdiction over these programs, and UI is available throughout the year. However, there are two particular extensions to this initiative that are occasionally updated. The first of these programs is the federal unemployment extension. Two versions of this program include Extended Benefits (EB) and Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). When activated, these initiatives permit enrollees to collect UC benefits beyond their states’ maximum enrollment limits.
While the unemployment benefits extension is a useful tool for workers who are struggling to find jobs, these programs are not always available. Congress decides when states may offer these UC extensions, and it bases this decisions on the unemployment rates for individual states or the country as a whole. Since these programs are not always available, the rules for collecting unemployment extended benefits may vary from one offering to another. Specifically, the following enrollment rules may change:
- Who can apply for extended benefits
- Where these extensions are available
- The amount of funds enrollees may be eligible to receive
Likewise, petitioners who wish to collect disaster unemployment insurance must also be aware of changes in enrollment and eligibility rules regarding this program. Unlike UI extensions, however, the rules for these benefits regulations can change quickly and with notice. Officially called Disaster Unemployment Assistance, DUA is available to petitioners who meet the following requirements after a major disaster in their area:
- The claimants lost their jobs as a direct result of the disaster.
- Petitioners physically cannot commute to their places of employment due to debris or related issues.
- The applicants’ work facilities were damaged due to the disaster.
- Candidates cannot work because they were injured during the disaster.
While these requirements for disaster unemployment insurance remain the same, the rules regarding where people can apply vary. Once the president declares a disaster in an area, DUA usually becomes available to residents who live there. Therefore, claimants need to stay up-to-date on these legislative decisions to know if they could qualify for benefits. Often, the president declares these disasters in response to natural or environmental catastrophes, and then DUA becomes available.