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How to Get Unemployment Benefits

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When Are Employees Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

Employees who are unemployed through no fault of their own are generally eligible for unemployment benefits.

  • Fired Employees: Some employees who are fired may still be eligible for benefits. State law determines whether a fired employee is eligible to collect unemployment benefits. An employee who is fired for an illegal or serious misconduct is ineligible to collect unemployment benefits.
  • Laid Off Employees: Employees discharged or temporarily laid off due to company closing or work reductions or lack of work may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits since they were out of work through no fault of their own.
  • Employees Who Quit: An employee who quits may still receive unemployment benefits if he or she quit because of a "good cause" and tried his or her hardest to keep the job.

How Do I Get Unemployment Benefits?

An employee who wishes to receive unemployment benefits must do the following:

  1. File a claim with the local unemployment office.
  2. Learn the requirements to determine whether you are eligible and qualify to collect unemployment benefits.
  3. Determine whether your past earnings meet the certain amount required.
  4. Make sure the reason for your leaving qualifies for you to receive unemployment benefits.
  5. Be willing to work and be ready to actively look for work.
  6. Complete the unemployment insurance interview with your state office, if required.

If you are denied unemployment benefits and you believe that you are entitled to unemployment benefits, you may file an appeal to be reconsidered. The appeal must be filed within 20 days after the original denial.

When Can I Be Eligible for Unemployment Benefits If I Quit?

Some reasons an employee who quits may be entitled to unemployment benefits include:

  • Medical Reasons: If an employee quits the job because of a serious medical reason, injury, or a disability may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. Many states require that the employee’s medical reason and/or the cause of the injury be related to the job in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Sexual Harassment: If the employee was forced to quit the job because there was constant sexual harassment and abuse that existed in their work environment, the employee may be able to collect unemployment benefits since they were forced out of work at no fault of their own.
  • To Care for a Family Member: Some states allow employees to be eligible to collect unemployment benefits if they were forced to quit due to an illness in the family and they were required to quit work to care for the family member.
  • Dangerous Working Conditions: If the employee was forced to quit because there was constant dangerous working conditions which the employer refused to fix.

Would I Be Eligible for Unemployment Benefits If I Got Fired?

Employees who are fired or are out of work through their own fault are not always eligible for unemployment benefits. State law determines whether a employee who was fired would be eligible to collect unemployment. AN employee who is fired because they committed an illegal act on the job or a serious misconduct is ineligible to collect unemployment benefits.

Some types of misconduct that makes an employee ineligible to collect unemployment benefits include:

  • Theft: An employee who steals or commits theft from the company or other employees would be ineligible to collect unemployment benefits.
  • Crime: An employee who commits a serious crime or an illegal act during the scope of employment or related to the job would be ineligible (ex: assault, driving under the influence, battery).
  • Violation of Safety Rules: An employee who violates company policy or company safety procedures intentionally or willfully would most likely be ineligible.
  • Failing Drug or Alcohol Test: If an employee fails a drug or alcohol test required by the employer would be ineligible to collect unemployment benefits.

How Long Will It Take to Receive My Unemployment Benefits?

Soon after you become unemployed, you can file a claim for unemployment benefits with the state’s unemployment office. The state will determine whether you are eligible for benefits based on state law. Following this determination, you will receive a notice of eligibility.

Once you have been determined to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, you should expect your first unemployment check 2-3 weeks after the application is filed. The process will take longer if you have not filed the correct information or if you have not submitted all the required information.

How Long Can I Receive My Unemployment Benefits?

The duration that you are eligible to receive your unemployment benefits for depends on where and when you file your unemployment claim. Generally, many states allow employees to receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks or 6 months unless you find employment during that period.

If you are still economically struggling after 26 weeks and you have yet to find employment, the federal and state governments allow employees to file an extension and receive unemployment benefits even after the 26 weeks has expired.

Seeking Legal Help

If you need to take legal action against a former employer, you should contact an employment lawyer. You may also need a lawyer if complications arise when seeking to obtain employment benefits.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-31-2017 11:13 PM PST

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