Understanding Unemployment Benefits

The current economy has led to a large number of layoffs and cutbacks placing many Americans out of a job. Many people are facing unemployment for the first time and it can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. However, there are avenues of help you can receive and that you should take advantage of, one of those being unemployment benefits.

Facing unemployment is scary and unsettling. Unemployment benefits are available to help out those that have lost their jobs or that have been reduced significantly in the number of hours they are able to work. A common misconception is that you must have no job to apply for unemployment, but that is not the case. If your hours have been cut back significantly enough that you are being paid less than what you would receive through unemployment you may file and receive unemployment due to your reduction in hours. However, just because you have received a reduction in hours does not entitle you automatically to unemployment. For example, in Virginia the maximum unemployment you may receive is $363 a week. If you are making more than $363 you are not eligible even if you had a reduction of hours. But if your reduction of hours has led to you making less than that amount per week you can file to receive up to the maximum amount. But you will not get anymore than the maximum amount allowed.

Unemployment benifits and amounts can vary depending on the state so the first step you should take when you have lost your job is to contact your state employment office. Many employment offices have websites with all the available resources and procedures you will need to follow on them. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the information provided there.

Sometimes you may know you are going to be laid off before you actually are laid off. You cannot file for unemployment until your reduction of hours/loss of job goes into effect. The first week that you are making under the minimum for unemployment you are eligible to file for benefits. If, however, you have leave built up you will need to either take that before filing or have your company pay it out to you. As long as you have leave available to you, you will not be eligible for unemployment.

When you file for unemployment be prepared for at least a week waiting period before you receive any benefits. Again this may vary depending on the state, but using Virginia as an example the first week you file you do not receive benefits the second week you are eligible to start receiving payments. However, the payments do not just automatically come your way without you putting in any effort. Most states will require you to look for a job while receiving unemployment and you must contact the state employment office notifying them of where you are applying each week in order to receive your benefits. In Virginia, the requirement is that you must file two applications a week in order to be eligible and you must contact the employment office letting them know what company/position you applied for in order to receive your check each week. If you fail to apply or fail to contact them, no money.

There are many other nuances to unemployment benefits that may be differnet depending on the state. The best source you have is your state employment office. Familarize yourself with them and utlize the differnet programs and resoruces they have available to you so you can maximize your unemployment and also so you can as quickly as possible get a new job.