How To Check For Unemployment Eligibility

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

If you have lost your job, you might be wondering if you qualify for unemployment compensation. A portion of your check and your employer's income has been used to pay for unemployment benefits. This is how to check for unemployment eligibility.

State and Federal Laws

The Unemployment Insurance Program was established by the federal government in 1935 during the Great Depression. Generally, the federal government is responsible for providing the money to the states, the states are responsible for setting rules for the disbursement of said funds to the people. The standard unemployment time parameter is supposed to be 26 weeks. Either the federal or state governments can extend the benefit time.

The state will determine the rules of qualification for unemployment benefits. These will be based on how you lost your employment, income at time of job loss and number of weeks worked. For example, the state might require you to have worked 680 hours of covered employment in your base year to qualify. Your compensation is determined by how much money you made while working.

Lack of Work

You must have lost your job "through no fault of your own." Usually, if you were fired with others because of a "lack of work," then you can collect unemployment benefits. Usually, if you quit, resigned or were fired for misconduct, then you cannot collect unemployment. If you left for a "good cause," you might qualify. Self-employed people cannot receive unemployment benefits.

<h3>Left Job for Good Cause</h3>

Each state unemployment office determines what qualifies as a "good cause" or "reasonable cause." This could include family illness, sexual harassment, safety concerns or loss of transportation. If you give notice and the employer ignores your notice and terminates you, then you may qualify for benefits too. Information will be gathered from both ex-employer and ex-employee to determine eligibility.

File a claim at the unemployment office to determine eligibility. This can be done physically or online. If your claim is denied, you can still request a hearing before the state unemployment office. You can plead your case during this hearing.

Each state will have its own specific criteria, like job retraining programs and proof that you are actively looking for work. Your state might also have a handbook for the unemployed that will articulate the applicable rules. Visit the state website and search for a downloadable PDF.

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