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File for Unemployment – The Ultimate Guide

Updated : January 20th, 2021

You have lost that precious job that provided all the financial support. Now what? Obviously, this is not the time to panic or being depressed. Take a step back, and relax – there is always another job waiting to be hunted for. You can use job search links on this site to look for new job, but the first thing you want to do is to file for unemployment insurance benefits and allow the lengthy process to start while you look for new jobs. This guide provides all the necessary steps to apply for unemployment benefits.

Claiming Unemployment Benefits – Where to start?

State unemployment offices generally take a few weeks to process unemployment benefits claims, so it is important that you understand how to file for unemployment and file the claim at the earliest opportunity. Be aware that you will get back-credits from the second week of filing, even though state employment offices may take a long time to process your claim for the very first time. Here are the steps to claim unemployment benefits

  1. Check your eligibility to apply and receive the unemployment benefits. Eligibility criteria are defined by state unemployment programs and you can use the unemployment eligibility article to ensure you have met all the rules. Here is a quick test to check if you are eligible to claim unemployment insurance
    • You must be willing and able to work. You may need to claim disability insurance if you have physical disabilities
    • Your job loss must be due to employers inability to offer continued employment. If you were fired or lost job due to your own fault, you are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits
    • Your salary from the lost job was high enough to cover basic living expenses. Most of the part-time or seasonal jobs do not qualify you for unemployment benefits
  2. Estimate Benefits Amount using our unemployment calculator. Based on your eligibility, this smart tool provides an instant estimate of benefits depending on the data collected from you.
  3. Locate state unemployment insurance agency. You can use State unemployment instructions or the interactive map provided here to locate the state agency, their contact number, office address and the website if you choose to file unemployment online
  4. Choose your filing method. Most state unemployment offices allow you to file your claims online or through a telephone. It is advised to file online or by visiting the state agency as telephone method is prone to data entry errors and you do not want to delay claims processing when you file the first time. You can always use the telephone method to extend unemployment benefits.
  5. Prepare to file the paperwork. According to an estimate, about 50 percent of eligible people do not apply for unemployment benefits due to complex paperwork process. However many states have reduced the complexities as you can see from the State of Michigan unemployment data gathering form which is as short as one page. Here is a list of things generally needed when you file the paperwork and be aware that some States may require more details
    • Name, social security number and other personal details
    • Name of all previous employers in the last 2 years and their details.
    • An approx. estimate of dates and duration of each employment. Generally, employers do not provide this info to states.
    • If you are a member of a union, need name and local number of the union
    • Reason you left the job – it has to be involuntary to be eligible to receive benefits
  6. After you have applied for unemployment benefits, wait for the benefits check and stay positive! It takes 2-3 weeks for state offices to process you claim and issue the check. Keep hunting for jobs in that period. Most importantly, do not sit idle. You can learn new skills, read new topics, or find a cost-effective volunteering opportunity to keep you mind engaged. Remember you are just searching for a job; there is no reason to let yourself down.
  7. Register for jobs with the state employment services.This is not mandatory but many state unemployment agencies offer employment services at free of charge if you register. They will guide you with job opportunities within and outside of the state. They will offer counseling services to find the jobs you like. They will also refer you to discounted training programs, or refer you to other agencies if you need special assistance
  8. Continue to file for unemployment benefits every week or 2 to let the unemployment office know that you are still eligible for benefits. You are also required to report any wages earned, or the job offers received. If you exhaust your benefits, you may be eligible for extension of benefits

Claiming unemployment benefits from more than one state

You are required to file your claims in the state where you have worked, even though you are not living in that state now. If you have worked in more than one state or you are currently not living in the state where you worked during the year, you can still contact local unemployment insurance office close to you. They may be able to assist you with the claims

Once you file for unemployment benefits, you should continue your job search. Then there is this brave new world of work from home jobs that you can do online. People are making a leaving and some are able to make a fortune out of such jobs that can work from the comfort of your home. Making money online is real and it takes virtually no investment.

Tired of looking for jobs? Explore ways to make money online.

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  1. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

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

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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