Learn About Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Federal unemployment benefits are available to each state and distributed by state deparments.

Unemployed residents can claim unemployment benefits if they have lost their job for reasons that were not their fault. However, to continue claiming benefits for unemployment, applicants must maintain their eligibility each week.

To find out how to claim unemployment benefits and learn about unemployment benefits extensions, continue reading the topics below.

What is an unemployment benefits claim?

An unemployment benefits claim is the application process for obtaining and continuing to obtain compensation from the program.

Often when inquiring about how to claim unemployment benefits, workers are surprised to discover that the unemployment assistance program does not fully replace and match the lost wages.

The amount received after an unemployment benefits claim is a calculated amount of wages that the worker earned during their most recent employment.

When workers claim unemployment benefits, the government looks at the three highest-earning months during their ‘base period’ and offer applicants a percentage of that income.

This is because while unemployment insurance (UI) assists people financially following the loss of employment, it is not a substitute for employment income.

Another thing to consider when claiming benefits for unemployment is the maximum award amount. While federal unemployment benefits are contingent on a percentage of income, the state sets a cap that applies to all applicants, regardless of previous income.

Additionally, benefits may be taxed, so UI beneficiaries can elect to have a certain amount withheld to cover the financial responsibility.

Also, your most recent employer must have participated in the state and federal unemployment benefits programs in order for you to get benefits. Certain businesses, such as some non-profits, may be exempt from this requirement.

Residents can find out if their employer pays into unemployment by asking the business or contacting the U.S. Department of Labor.

Workers laid off from non-participating companies may still be eligible for other financial assistance programs.

Discover How to Claim Unemployment Benefits

In order to claim unemployment benefits, an applicant must first apply to the unemployment insurance program. The online unemployment benefits claim form is typically the preferred application method. You may also apply by phone in many cases.

Claiming benefits for unemployment online is easy if the applicant has all of the necessary documentation already gathered. The process of how to claim unemployment benefits online can take about a half hour to an hour to complete.

The documentation needed to claim unemployment benefits generally encompasses information about your most recent employer, your earnings and duration working for them, among other details.

If your unemployment benefits claim is approved, officials will issue you a PIN or case number that you will need in order to request continued payments.

Typically, an approved claimant will have to log in to his or her account to claim unemployment benefit payments by completing the form questions and furnishing work search results. Failure to claim benefits regularly (usually weekly) will result in the beneficiary not receiving compensation.

Find Out About the Unemployment Benefits Extension Program

The amount of weeks that you may receive unemployment benefits varies from state to state. Generally, you can qualify for up to 26 weeks.

However, if a worker feels that he or she needs to claim unemployment benefits for longer than 26 weeks, he or she may be able to submit a request depending on the situation in the state.

If the state is experiencing higher than usual unemployment numbers, it may grant an unemployment benefits extension to UI claimants.

The Coronavirus pandemic is one such example of when higher unemployment numbers result in unemployment extensions, as the government is awarding an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to eligible applicants.

Those who are ineligible for extended UI compensation may still qualify for other financial and food assistance programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).