Qualifying for Unemployment

Unemployment comes in all shapes and sizes. From layoffs to quitting to getting fired, at some point in your career you may find yourself searching for a new job. The issue, though, is that while you are searching for a new job or career, there are still bills to be paid and mouths to be fed. Depending on the reason for unemployed and your financial situation, you may qualify for unemployment benefits to help ease some financial pressures.

Different circumstances require different assistance and some people don’t feel that time going through the process for receiving benefits is worth it – others may have more serious financial situations and need financial help.

Below is a summary on what government help is available and how to go about it. In addition, you can reach out to local Community Action Agencies to learn about more assistance programs that may include other organizations beyond the government.

Do I Qualify
Unemployment Insurance is available to those who qualify. This is generally based on unemployment that is through circumstances outside of your control. According to the Department of Labor those that become unemployed through no fault of their own are eligible. This could be a layoff or closure of a business that causes you to enter the world of unemployment. If you quit, or are fired due to negligence or misconduct you will not qualify for benefits. In most cases, a certain amount of time must have been worked with an employer before you qualify.

State Unemployment Benefit Programs
On a state by state basis the requirements will change. You must meet the State requirements for wages earned over a period of time called the “base period”. Generally this falls within the first four out of the last five calendar quarters (a years’ time) prior to the time that you place the claim.

Additionally, you must become unemployed through no fault of your own as determined by State law. Other eligibility requirements may be issued under State law as well. More information can be found here.

Furthermore, you must file weekly or biweekly claims and respond to questions in regards to your eligibility in the program. Any earnings that you gain must also be reported. Job offers or refusals of work during the week will also need to be discussed.

You will need to report to a local Unemployment Insurance Claims Office when directed at a scheduled time for interviews or your claim may be denied. During all of this, you must also continue to meet the requirements as previously stated.

Benefits for Ex-service members
UCX, or the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-service members program provided benefits to ex-military personal that fall within eligible guidelines. Former members of the NOAA are also covered under UCX. If you were on active duty with a branch of the U.S. military and separated under honorable conditions you may qualify. Service members pay no payroll deduction for unemployment insurance protection.

The amount you qualify for will be determined by the State under which you file. This includes the number of weeks and other eligibility conditions.

Contact your State Workforce Agency as soon as you can after your discharge. It is encouraged that you have your discharge documents (DD-214 or similar) when you open your claim. You may find that it is easier to file through phone or online.

Moving Forward
Very few wish to stay on unemployment, so focusing on constant job hunting is probably your main focus. Don’t let the procrastination set it – it is easy to do when you have nowhere to go and nothing to do – and stay focused on applying and networking with those in the field in which you have the most experience. Unemployment insurance will help keep you afloat until you can land that next big job, but resting on your laurels will steamroll and put you into a position where you have even more stress and less time to find a job as your unemployment moves towards being completed.

Here are a few tips on things you can do to help your general situation while unemployed.