How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

It’s so much easier now to apply for unemployment benefits. Apply online! Or even over the telephone!  It’s the most hassle free way of applying without standing in long lines at your local unemployment office. California, for instance, accepts unemployment insurance claims online and there is a form that unemployed workers can fill out and send. There is even a toll free number you can call to file for unemployment benefits over the telephone.  It’s less stressful to apply for unemployment insurance these days since most states have online information.

File on the first week that you became unemployed. Don’t delay as you will not be paid for the weeks before filing for unemployment. So even if you’re confused on the requirements, file immediately even if you haven’t received your layoff notice.

 First, do a search on the internet to see if your state has a web page that accepts unemployment benefit applications online or on the phone. Type in “unemployment benefits filing” and your state.

 Once you’ve confirmed that your state takes online or telephone applications, you must generally meet the following to determine your eligibility:

– You must at least have 680 hours of employment from your current employer in your base year.

– If you were let go from a new job, you may not qualify.

– You will need to provide a reason on why you became unemployed.

– Generally unemployment eligibility is given to those who were let go and were not at fault.

– If you were let go because you voluntarily quit, fired, or suspended by your employer, the state agency will have to see if you qualify and the application process including the questions on the form will be more complicated.

– Most likely, unemployment eligibility is given to people who were laid off due to company downsizing.

– You must be actively seeking for work and are physically able to work. There are generally requirements that you must fulfill in terms of your attempts to seek work on a weekly basis. Check with your state.

What you need to before you file your claim:

– Your current mailing address and phone number

– Your driver’s license

– Your social security number

– Your hourly wage or salary

–  Your employer’s name, address, and phone number

– Your employer’s Federal ID number (this info is available on your pay stub).

– Your start and end date of your employment from your current employer Your previous employer information.

– Employer information is generally asked from the last two years. It is done for verification and to determine eligibility.

-Your veteran or military separation dates (if applicable). Your reasons for your employment termination.

– Whether your employer owes you vacation or holiday pay. Whether you want taxes withheld from your unemployment checks. If you don’t have it withheld, remember to put some money aside to pay your taxes. Unemployment Benefits ARE taxable!  

– If applying online, you will need to create a user ID and log on info.

Other tips:

– Once you’ve filed you will be able to file for benefits each week and also check the status of your checks. Once you found a new job, you will need to notify your unemployment office of your start date with your new employer so that the unemployment benefits can stop.

– By the end of January, you should receive a 1099-G from the state unemployment office. This form gives the information on your taxable benefits. If you don’t receive this form, contact your state unemployment agency. Check your tax consultant on how to report the amount on this form when filing for taxes.

It takes time to receive your unemployment check, generally, about 2 to 3 weeks. To make sure you get your benefits on time, file as soon as possible. By filing online or over the phone, it will make it easier and a lot less stressful for you.