Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

Eligibility for unemployment insurance is determined by state law. More than half of jobless workers do not claim unemployment benefits because either they do not qualify or feel the filing process to be very complex. Contrary to this, numerous people meet the criteria for benefits and state unemployment offices have also reduced the amount of necessary paperwork over a period of time. This article will make eligibility criteria clear for filing unemployment benefits.

Want to know if you are eligible? Use our Eligibility Calculator

Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

eligibility requirements

Based on your state there may be eligibility requirements for unemployment coverage including having worked for a definite period of time. The Job Service may need job seekers to apply for jobs, submit resumes, and not turn down a position if it meets certain standards.

Other Eligibility Factors to determine benefits are:

  • Must be monetary eligible
  • Past earnings activity (labor force attachment)
  • Conditions of job separation
  • Be totally or partially unemployed
  • If you are identified as likely to tire out unemployment benefits and are registered in the worker profiling and reemployment services program, you have to fully participate in all assessment interviews, orientation, and referred reemployment services.

The State Job Service Offices are brilliant resources to aid with a job search. Many free services are provided including career counseling, job listings, resume and cover letter writing help, and training. Take benefit of the assistance state job service offices can give you –it will make your job easier.

Monetary Eligibility

Estimate Benefits

Unemployment Calculator

After filing an initial application for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you will obtain a Determination of Unemployment Compensation with facts about your monetary eligibility. The monetary determination is not an assurance of payment. It is to give advice to you and your employer that a claim for benefits has been filed, if qualified, what the weekly benefit rate will be and upon which earnings that rate is based.

Use our unemployment calculator to determine your eligibility.

Example 1:

Let’s take an example from the state of California. Anyone may file a claim for jobless benefits in California. However, not all those who file will be entitled. In order to be qualified you must first have adequate work and earnings to set up a claim (what’s recognized as Monetary Eligibility). The wages may be from work in California only, in California and another state(s), or from work with the federal government or U.S. military service in any state.

If in doubt, file the claim and allow the Employment Development Department (EDD) make the conclusion. If you cannot establish a valid California claim the EDD will tell you what your options are for getting a valid claim.

California glances at earnings grouped by calendar quarter. A quarter consists of three precise months; January, February, and March from the 1st quarter of the year, and so on. By law, the Employment Development Department can only employ the four quarters that ended before the last quarter to assess earnings. These four earnings are called the Base period of the claim; it is the only period of earnings that can be used to decide present eligibility.

How the Base Period is Determined?

Wages are drawn from a one-year period (four calendar quarters) to compute eligibility. This one-year period is called the Base Period.

If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: January, February, or March – The Base Period will be the first nine months (Jan-Sept) of last year and the last three months (Oct-Dec) of the year before last;

If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: April, May, or June – The Base Period will be all twelve months (Jan-Dec) of last year;

If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: July, August, or September – The Base Period will be the first three months of the current year (Jan-Mar) and the last nine months (Apr-Dec) of the last year;

If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: October, November, or December – The Base Period will be the first six months (Jan-June) of the current year and last six months (Jul- Dec) of the last year.

The quarter you file and the previous quarter (the months in red and white) do NOT count at all toward the Base Period, regardless of how much you earned. Neither does any time before the Base Period, even if you worked for fifty years. Benefits are only depending on the Base Period, which is, in turn, decided by the date you file for benefits.

Example 2:
Let’s consider the earnings requirements in California for example
You can establish a legal claim in two ways in the state of California:

  • Earn no less than $1300 in any one quarter of the Base Period, or
  • Earn no less than $900 in your uppermost quarter of earnings during the Base Period plus in the rest of the Base Period earn no less than 25% of the highest quarter earnings.

For instance, if you received $1000 in your highest quarter, the claim would only be legal if your total earnings all through the other three quarters amounted to $250, for a Base Period total of $1,250:

$1000 + (25% x $1000) = $1250 in total Base Period earnings.

So even though you earned $100,000 in your highest quarter, but did not earn as a minimum $25,000 all through the rest of the Base Period, you would not be qualified! Or if you only earned $899.99 in each quarter, you will fail by one penny. That is the rule.

When you file a claim the EDD will send back you a printed copy of the determination of monetary eligibility. Test out cautiously to settle on if your employer(s) reported your earnings properly. You can constantly request a recomputation if the data appears wrong.

EDD will also offer the following information:

  • The beginning and ending date of the claim
  • Weekly Benefit Amount
  • Maximum Benefit Amount

Weekly Benefit Amount

The sum of money to which a claimant may be entitled each week, based on the claimant’s covered wages paid during the base period.

Let’s consider an example from the state Mississippi:

The maximum Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) allowed in Mississippi at this time is $235.00. Your WBA for unemployment insurance benefits depends on the total wages in the highest quarter of your Base Period and by dividing that amount by 26. The minimum WBA in Mississippi is $30.00. To estimate your WBA you must first determine what your wages are for the highest quarter during your Base Period.

To be eligible for benefits, you:

  • Must have worked in no less than two quarters of your base period,
  • Must have earned no less than $780.00 in the highest quarter of your base period, and
  • Must have earned 40 times your WBA in your base period.

The highest amount of benefits that can be paid to you during your Benefit Year is 26 times your WBA, or one-third of your total Base Period wages, whichever is the lesser.

If you file a claim for benefits and it is determined that you do not have enough wages in your base period to be eligible, you may reapply again after the quarter changes, if you are still jobless. The quarters used to decide the base period change every three months, on the first Sunday of January, April, July, and October.

Who can be claimed as a dependent?

If you do not meet the criteria for the maximum weekly benefit rate, you may be entitled to a dependency allowance. Dependant’s allowance is additional money added to a claimant’s weekly benefit amount if the claimant supports a dependent.

If you would like to claim a dependency allowance when you file your claim, you will be inquired to give the social security numbers of your dependent children.

Your dependent child or children must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Under 18 years of age.
  • Under 21 years of age and a full-time student.
  • A mentally or physically handicapped child of any age

You are required to give proof of dependency.

While you are receiving benefits, you must inform DUA (Department of Unemployment Assistance) if there is any change in the number of your dependent children or in your status of providing support. In total, 12 states pay dependency allowance.

For Example:

Total dependency allowance for Connecticut cannot be paid for more than five dependents ($75). California does not pay dependency allowances.

When to File for Unemployment?

Filing for unemployment must be the initial item on your plan when you have been laid-off. It might take a few weeks to collect a check, so the quicker you file, the faster you’ll get paid. A delay in filing will mean a wait in collecting unemployment benefits.

How to Claim Your Benefits?

In order to obtain unemployment compensation, workers must meet the unemployment eligibility requirements for wages earned or duration worked during an established (one year) period of time. Besides, workers must be firm to be unemployed through no fault of their own, so if you were fired or quit you may not be qualified for unemployment compensation.

Confirm with your State Unemployment Office for briefing on what benefits you are entitled to. You may be able to file over the phone. In various states, you can file online for unemployment.

In general, to file a claim you will need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Alien Registration Card if you’re not a US citizen
  • Mailing address including zip code
  • Phone number
  • Names, addresses and dates of employment of all your past employers for the last two years

Disqualification from Unemployment

The following conditions may disqualify you from collecting unemployment benefits depending on state law:

  • Quit without good cause
  • Fired for misconduct
  • Resigned because of illness (check on disability benefits)
  • Left to get married
  • Self-employed
  • Caught up in a labor dispute
  • Attending school

Check with the Unemployment Office if you have the above or any other special circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions For Eligibility Criteria

Can I collect for voluntary termination of a job?

Yes, if the reason for leaving is justifiable and related to work or, in some circumstances, to domestic issues. Check with your state’s employment security office for clarification.

Will I qualify for unemployment if I was allowed to resign but received a severance package?

If you quit or get fired, then you are not eligible. Only hope is that you explain the situation to unemployment office (after you lose the job) and they consider your case under “good cause” provision.

If I start collecting social security does this stop my unemployment?

Unemployment insurance benefits are not counted under the Social Security annual earnings test and therefore do not affect your receipt of Social Security benefits. However, the unemployment benefit amount of an individual may be reduced by the receipt of a pension or other retirement income, including Social Security and Retirement benefits.

You should contact your state unemployment office for information on how your state applies the reduction.

Are elected officials eligible for unemployment compensation when terminated by a different employer?

The law does not allow using some types of wages to establish claims which include working as an elected official. Hence, may not be eligible to claim the benefit.

Can I file a claim if I already lost a week’s pay from my job?

Yes, because most states pay unemployment compensation benefits based on the amount of earnings for a particular week. However, it all depends upon your weekly benefit amount and, possibly, other factors. File the claim and see.

If I was contracted to work through a company and was let go due to loss of work can I file for unemployment?

Periods of self-employment don’t generally qualify for unemployment insurance claiming, as you’re not paying into the system. The other question likely is, do you qualify based upon your earnings from ex-employment other than the self-employment income? Depending on these factors it will be decided whether you are eligible or not.

Responses

  1. Robert Harold Driver says:

    How do I reclaim weeks missed on weekly certifications

    • Sam says:

      Robert,

      As far as I am aware, you will not be able to claim retrospectively. Please call the Claims Center on the phone numbers provided for additional details.

  2. Rose says:

    I work for a company that has multiple locations but I only applied for one in the town I live in. They closed our office with one days notice and both my husband and I work for the same company. We were asked to come to different branch which was over an hour and a half away from our location for couple of weeks and led to believe they might open different location in our town but tried to ignore the fact that we did not apply to work in another town. Can we be forced to relocate and be ineligible for unemployment ?

    • Sam says:

      Rose,

      I am guessing you and your husband should be eligible to claim UI under such circumstances. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  3. stephan hrubesky says:

    I was on unemployment because my employer stopped scheduling me. since then i have gotten a different job at about 20 hours a week. can i still file against the job that is not scheduling me to for the difference of 40 minus 20 hours?

    • Sam says:

      Stephen,

      You can continue applying for partial UI benefits as long as there are benefits left in your account. Please call the Claims Center for details.

  4. Leslie says:

    I have to go out of work to delivery my daughter in October and afraid that the level of work-related stress I’m enduring will force me to be out even earlier per my doctor’s recommedation. I see that the base period required to be eligible are 4-5 but I was unemployed for a short time from July to October 2016 and employed for 3 years before that. I will not have any other source of income (disability, child support etc) will I be eligible for UI benefits for this time out?

    • Sam says:

      Leslie,

      Unfortunately, personal reasons for unemployment are not considered. You will not be eligible.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  5. Corey says:

    I was being asked to do something I thought was unethical, I told my manager that I’m suppose the report this. He say that is fine, but I will start holding you accountable for it. I was too upset to finish out the day and they told me if I leave work, that I quit. I said I do not quit, but I can’t finish the day. Did I quit and can I still get UI?

    • Sam says:

      Corey,

      Please decide carefully. It may be considered voluntary exit, making you ineligible to claim UI benefits.

  6. May says:

    I had to leave work to give birth to my son in November of last year. Since it is now June am I able to file for unemployment, or is it too late? I’m currently seeking child care and a full time job but no luck.

    • Sam says:

      May,

      To be eligible to claim UI benefits, the claimant is required to have employment and earnings in the last 4-5 calendar quarters.

  7. Darren says:

    my wife will be out of work for 6 weeks for an illness. she will be taking short term disability. Can she take unemployment benefits for the difference in pay?

    • Sam says:

      Unfortunately, personal reasons are not considered. UI benefits are only extended to those who’re able and available for work.

  8. Tony webb says:

    After 37 years of working a full time job, the company I worke for is shutting down my department, and I am getting a one time severence check, am I eligable fo UI?o

  9. Steve says:

    I was let go, and given no reason except that tee company had decided to part ways. I was sent a questionnaire by NDUICE that I returned.
    Will I qualify?

    • Sam says:

      Steve,

      If it was voluntary on your end to leave the job, you may not qualify. Please call the Unemployment Office.

  10. Michelle Lovett says:

    Hello,

    I’m a current college student and full time employee who’s been recently accepted into a Nursing program. Where I’m currently employed they require you to work full time, unfortunately I can no longer meet these qualification while attending school. I’m in a position where I have to resign. Could this be considered as a “good cause” allowing me to receive unemployment benefits as well as a qualified participant for “Approved Training”?

    • Sam says:

      Hello Michelle,

      You can call the Unemployment Office to check if the program is accepted and if you’re eligible. The Eligibility criteria differ from state to state.

  11. Jonathon says:

    okay so i worked for liberty tax it was seasonal now i dont have a job could i apply for ui because it was seasonal

    • Sam says:

      Jonathan,

      Seasonal jobs are generally not eligible. Please check with the Unemployment Office in your state.

  12. Brenda Rivera says:

    I was laid off last july 2016 and collected my 26 weeks of unemployment..my calender year is up soon…can i reapply for more benefits since i still havent found a job.

    • Sam says:

      Brenda,

      As far as I am aware, Unemployment Benefits is only a one time cycle. Plus, the E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  13. Brain says:

    I got fired from my job because I made a mistake and a utility line got hit. I marked the line but I didn’t have the evidence to prove it. So they had to let me go. Can I receive benefits.

    • Sam says:

      If you have the evidence, you can apply. When you apply and if they deny on the basis of your employer’s feedback, you can always go back with evidence.

  14. ross says:

    on Thursday morning our boss came to the store i use to work and told everyone there that will be having a mandatory meeting on Friday morning at 8 am,for our surprise the meeting was to tell us they decide to closed the store and we will get severance pay. do i qualified for unemployment

  15. KC says:

    I’ve worked for a company for 10 years and I’m currently seeking a nursing degree. I’ll have to quit my job to start the nursing program full time this fall. Will I be eligible for unemployment benefits to help my family since I’ll be in school?

    • Sam says:

      Unemployment Insurance benefits are only extended to those who’re able and available for work. Since you’re attending school, I am not sure if you qualify.

      Please inquire further with the Unemployment Office by calling them.

  16. Kathy says:

    I am a teacher’s aide and do not get paid during the summers, nor work. Am I qualified to receive “attached unemployment”?

    • Sam says:

      Seasonal employment does not generally qualify.

      Please call the Unemployment Office in your state to inquire about eligibility.

  17. Cat says:

    I am currently stuck in a bad work situation. The environment is hostile & toxic. No matter what you do it is never good enough for this management team. I have put up with this abuse for 8 months and cannot take it any longer. If I quit would I be able to get unemployment or would I only get it if I were laid off?

    • Sam says:

      You can be eligible to quit and claim UI benefits under hostile work conditions. Be sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute from your employer when you apply.

  18. Diane says:

    I was off work for FMLA due to a health condition. My company also gave me an extra 30 days. I still suffer from my condition and needed days off for my condition and appointments. I received a letter from my employer stating if I miss any more days that I will be terminated. Would I be eligible for UC if they do decide to terminate me?

    • Sam says:

      You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

      Please call the claims center/customer service of the labor dept. in your state for further information.

  19. Erin says:

    I was a substitute teacher in Washington, but couldn’t afford to live there anymore with the pay, so I quit and I relocated to Nevada where it’s more affordable. I heard you can get unemployment when you relocate for a certain amount of time, but since I was a substitute I was considered “on-call” even though I worked every day school was open, so does that disqualify me?

  20. Joy says:

    I was fired for saying to my boss that she didn’t have the guts to fire me after we had a discussion about taking an order to the shipping department at 4:31pm to ship out. The shipping department said I was always the one with orders at the end of the day and I came back into the office and asked my boss who is the owner Is it too late and she said yes and if I didn’t like it why don’t I quit why don’t I quit and went on saying it and walked down the hall and then I made the statement and then she said You’re fired! You’re fired you You threaten me. Can I collect unemployment?

    • Sam says:

      Yes, you can be eligible to collect Unemployment benefits under such circumstances. Please make sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute while processing your application.

  21. Karen says:

    My current company sold my division to another company. The new company published all jobs for hire and I reapplied for my current position which is in upper management. I was finally given my job offer which is a lower management position and my pay will drop by $ 8.25 per hour. If I chose not to accept this position will i be eligible for unemployment in the state of Kentucky?

    • Sam says:

      I think you should be eligible to claim Unemployment Insurance under such circumstances.

      Please check further with the Unemployment Office in your state before deciding on your employment.

  22. Cindy says:

    I am employed part-time by two organizations. I am actively working for company A about 20 hours per week. Company B hired and trained me in February 2017 and required that I be available to work at least 24 hours weekly. Company B job is seasonal and expected to end in June 2017. Unfortunately, I have not been sent out on a job (medical records retrieval) at all with company B. Assuming I have enough monies banked for unemployment, would I qualify for benefits?

    • Sam says:

      You may not be eligible to draw UI benefits since it is extended only to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons.

  23. Cindy says:

    I was just let go from a job on April 20 and I was hired the end of Nov 2016. I worked in only 1 quarter in 2016 Oct-Dec. I was paid wages that equal 2995, although my final paystub for 2016 states I earned $2156. My employer pays biweekly, therefore the additional $838 was paid to me in Jan. and is reflected on a Jan paystub. I earned $4815 in the quarter Jan-March 2017, however because of the pay period works, it shows I earned $5654. I live in NY. So my question is, do the amounts in the 2 quarters go based off of what is stated in the paystub or the actual amount I earned in the quarter?

    • Sam says:

      Please report all the earnings received in a specific quarter.

      For further questions, please contact the Unemployment Office in your state.

  24. john hinojosa says:

    I exhausted my benefits this October 2016 in texas. No extensions were available. However the claim attendant did state that I would be eligible again in Apri 2017 even if I couldn’t find a job between all the months. Is this true? Can I use the same claim? I was laid off in April of 2016 and have not been successful with getting rehired. Can I go ahead and reaaply for unemployment on website

  25. Maureen says:

    I was laid off 10/30/15 my dad was ill and just recently passed so now I am able to actively seek employment. Can I still apply for benefits after this length of time?

    • Sam says:

      To be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you’re required to have active employment in the last 4-5 calendar quarters.

  26. lisa gray says:

    I will soon be collecting unemployment from my job in Oregon, but would like to move to Washington. Will I still be eligible for my Oregon unemployment benefits?

  27. Joe says:

    I retired from the military (for which I current receive a pension)and used the GI Bill to attend school. Can I receive unemployment benefits while looking for a job?

  28. Martha says:

    I have a question, on april 4 2017 I missed work due to a doctors appointment I returned to work on april 5 2017. I worked 8 hrs and 1hr before we were scheduled to be finished for the day I was called into the HR office were they had told me they were letting me go because of the 4 point policy which says if employees exceed more than 4 points it will be automatically considered a quit if employee does not attempt to return to work the next day in which at the time off clock in employees number will be marked as suspended and will have to meet with HR in which at that time employee will be notified that he or she is terminated due to the companies 4 point policy.The company did not follow their 4 points policy and over looked my termination on 4-4-17 and was allowed to keep my job and at the end of the day on 4-5-17 I was called into HR that is when they stated they were letting me go.
    Will I qualify for unemployment

    • Sam says:

      You can be eligible to draw UI benefits if you were terminated involuntarily. Please consider applying and keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute.

  29. Jake says:

    I was fired about a month ago from a job of almost 5 years. They cited tardiness as reason. They would not listen to me but my tardiness was due to the drug addicted managers harassing myself and other employees. What’s worse is I believe this company knows full well of its employees habits, yet turns the other cheek.
    I already have a job now, but I am bringing in less than half of what I was and it is simply not enough. What can I do?

    • Sam says:

      That is strange! You can speak to the Unemployment Office to check if you can quit under such circumstances and apply for UI benefits.

  30. Rose says:

    I left the job after 1,5 years without any notice. I could not concentrate on my job because of one of my family members’ health problems .
    Do you think I am eligible for Unemployment benefits ? Can I apply the unemployment benefits and how ?
    Thanks

    • Sam says:

      You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  31. Jessica Griffin says:

    That means i wont get my unemployment then since i quit.

  32. Kenneth Cooper says:

    applying unemployment benefits

  33. Larraine Boyd says:

    I’ve been employed for 3 1/2 years. They had me sign a contract that said I would sell ‘X’ amount of advertising or I would be let go. I’ve not sold that amount and fear I will be let go soon. May I file unemployment?

    • Sam says:

      If it’s tagged as a “Performance” issue, you will not qualify for UI benefits are extended to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons.

  34. ronald gordon says:

    how do i file a claim for unemployment online?

    • Sam says:

      Please let us know the state you would want to file from. You can either take the website address provided by us or search on Google/Bing with relevant keywords.

  35. Russell Dodd says:

    If I took a commission only job can I collect until I make a sale and get paid by this new company?

  36. Susan Macool says:

    I received notice today that I will be laid off due to downsizing as of February 10th. I will receive my final paycheck Feb 24, we are paid bi-weekly. When can I apply for benefits?

  37. KATHY says:

    In August of 2016 after 28 years of employment I was dismissed due to “downsizing”. I have been collecting a severance since then. In March of 2017 severance runs out and I will need to apply for unemployment benefits. I have been working part time since December 2016, will I still be able to collect partial unemployment benefits from my previous employment?

    • Sam says:

      Well, you may be required to wait until the severance pay from your main job is paid out. You may call the Unemployment Office to confirm if you can draw the benefits from the part time job.

  38. Angela says:

    I have a question. I had to fax extra paper work which I did yesterday and my status online says pending but when I call it says that I have a valid claim. I’m a little confused on if I have been approved.

    • Sam says:

      It may just a case of some mismatch in the records. Please speak to a representative from the claims center to clarify.

  39. Tanya Dixon says:

    I was fired from my job jan 6 2017 for poor job performance job is pending. I started june 2016

  40. Keith S. says:

    Is it possible to receive unemployment benefits and social security benefits at the same time in the state of Iowa?

    • Martin says:

      You should be able to, based on multiple inputs. Please call the Unemployment Office to clarify further and apply accordingly.

  41. Erin Yates says:

    I am confused. If I worked the last 8 months of 2016 one week in April and then all of May – December 2016 but had no work in 2015 or up to April 2016, I will only get the minimum a week in Oregon. Is that true? These last 8 months I earned close to $31,000. Oregon will not consider the time I worked before I was laid off?

    • Martin says:

      I am not really sure of the processing methodology in Oregon.

      Please call the Unemployment Office and speak to a representative for clarity.

  42. Quinn says:

    my work eliminated my position. They sent me home same day, said I did nothing wrong they just eliminated my role. They did give me a small severance package. Am I still eligible for unemployment benefits?

    • Martin says:

      Yes, you can be eligible to draw UI benefits.

      If the Severance pay was a lump sum, please apply immediately, else, wait until the payout is complete.

  43. prodromos says:

    I worked from May 2016 to December 2016. I claimed for benefits in December 2016. According to the “claim table” my claim is based on
    employment from: July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016…
    So What about the other months that I worked in 2016??
    Must I refile a claim, when my benefits are depleted?

    • Martin says:

      When you apply, they consider the “Base Period”, which is 4 of the last 5 calendar quarters. I am assuming you were not employed before May 2016 and hence only the last completed quarter has been considered.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further information.

  44. bob says:

    If your company moves you from full time to part time can you draw unemployment benefits

  45. curtis r watson says:

    I have run out of unemployment benefits but that I can file for more benefits. Please inform me how I can file for additional benefits.

    • Martin says:

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  46. Lucy says:

    Hi- I am concerned I will be terminated by my employer because of differences and unrealistic expectations with my supervisor. If this happens, would I be eligible for unemployment?

    • Martin says:

      If it’s not voluntary and not your fault, you can be eligible to apply for UI benefits.

      Make sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute from your employer.

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