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File for Unemployment – The Ultimate Guide

Updated : December 23rd, 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. When I filed for my unemployment I answered a question wrong and accidentally waved a week of my benefits so in doing so how can I possibly make that different because in all reality I need that and I have no other income and I’m not working please help no phone number I have gotten has been able to direct me to somebody to talk to thank you

    • Kristen,

      You should be able to fix that. Please visit the official website of the Unemployment Office in your state to find out phone numbers. You can also manage your claim on the web portal.

  2. it says money was put on my card on jan 30 when will it be avalable to me, and am i calling correct number to do my weekly filing?

    • Bill,

      You should be calling the correct number since its updating you on the status. Please call the numbers immediately and speak to a claims representative.

    • Regina,

      Please use the navigation under “Benefits by State” on this website. Choose your state to find out the options available to file.

    • Please let us know how we can help you.

      Depending on the availability in your state, you can apply over the phone or the internet.

    • Brent,

      UI benefits are only extended to those who’re able and available for work. Please inquire further with the Unemployment Office in your state.

  3. if i had to leave the job due to being a union member and was going to have to go in front of e board for dis-plenary actions am i still eligible for benefits

    • Ron,

      UI benefits are only extended to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons. Please call the Unemployment Office to inquire about your eligibility

  4. I have applied 3 weeks ago and still no check but its been letting me claim the weekly benefits on sundays.

  5. So I will start off with how it happen. I had asked my company to transfer me to a different city that was closer to where I was moving, It took a long time to get a response, and their other “Location” said they had no open positions. Which as far as the company site said they did. Then I moved and tried to work with a very long distance to travel, after I could no longer afford the long drive with a part time job, my boss told me to take a LOA in which I did to wait for a position to open at the location near me, which again didn’t want to transfer me. Now the question I have is In this time period I was still hired with them, not making a income and they didn’t want to transfer me, but they recently fired me, after the six month LOA. can I still apply for unemployment?

    • Erica,

      It looks like you were fired due to voluntary reasons, making you ineligible to draw UI benefits.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further information.

    • Robert,

      I can understand your situation. Generally, the claims and payment are only a weekly basis only. Please speak to a member of the Claims Center to explore your options.

    • Please try applying on the phone or on the internet.

      Also remember, you may be allowed to apply only during the stipulated time of the week.

  6. I started my form and system is off line until tomorrow at 9am. How will I access my claim to add job searches and will I still be approved.

  7. I filed for unemployment online and want to check my status. The phone number I am calling keeps saying the line is experiencing problems and to call back later, how can I check my claim status online?

    • You can visit the official website of the Labor Department in your state to check the status.

      Please use keywords such as “Unemployment Office” and “Your state name” in search engines or let us know the name of your state.

  8. I have being wondering what’s going on with my unemployment ,cause I havent heard anything from Noone about my case, and it’s hard to get some on the phone on a daily

  9. Why I haven’t heard anything about my unemployment, I haven’t got no mail or able to get in contact with anyone on the phone about my unemployment.

    • Please note this is a private forum and therefore, we do not have access to your claim information. You may chase the Unemployment Office for an update by calling the Claims Center.

    • I did not understand. Please elaborate. If you’re talking about determination of eligibility, it takes into account, the entire income earned during the base period.

    • Please note this is a private forum. We do not have access to your claim information. Try calling during off-peak hours if the phone lines are busy.

  10. I filed for my first NJ Unemployment claim over 6 weeks after I was laid off from my job. Will I be penalized for not filing right away? Also, do i have to file a claim online every week? I tried filing on my 2nd claim on the following Thursday night and was not able to file the claim online and was instructed to call. However, I cannot get through to the toll free number 888-795-6672. Please advise.

    • You will not be penalized. You have to make a weekly claim on the website. Please chase the claims center for an update. You will only be able to file once the claim has been approved. Please check email or mail for further confirmation from the Unemployment Office.

  11. It’s been five weeks since I applied for unemployment onlinr , I received a monetary determination stating how much I will recieve weekly, I have not heard anything and I’m being evicted from my apartment come this Monday I need money to move my stuff out and put into storage, I really need to know why I haven’t received any payments yet? Please help

  12. I just got approved got the letter today ive had my account locked until the assistance reached me I was unable to certify I’m scared I wont receive my benifit

    • Well, if you do not certify on time, chances are that you will not receive the benefits on time.

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

  13. I applied for unemployment on 1/4/16. I have received an approval benefit claim letter plus the amount I should be receiving by direct deposit. My letter states I should be receive my benefits by January 26, 2016. As of February 4, 2016. I have received nothing.

  14. I need the phone number for someone to talk to in Tennessee about an unclaimed unemployment check. My previous employer sent it back to the unemployment office. Nice of him, right ? I need someone to ask how to find it. Any help would be appreciated.

  15. I Worked in 2 states Fl.& P.A. p.a. sent all my information on 01/07/2016.In P.a. I work from about 08/10/2015>10/23/15 for C.A.Murren & Sons LLC. 22775 Loganville Hwy. Grayson,GA. 30017. End Of Job. On About 11/19/2015>12/22/2015 worked for PRECISION PIPELINE.LLC. 3314 56th street EAU CLAIRE. WI 54708.nn FL. 07/07/2016>about 09/30/2014 Berkel 3702 Rogers Ind. Park rd.Okahumpkafi.54762/ ShoreLine Foundations pembroke parkfl33013

    • Please specify your question.

      If you’ve filed and not heard from them, please call the claims center on the phone numbers provided for an update on status.

    • You can apply for UI benefits either over the phone or online (recommended), on the official website of the labor department in your state.

  16. Hi i was just wondering after you fill for unployment how long do you usually have to what before you get paid for the first time. I was laid off of my job.

    • It takes about 7-10 working days to process and disburse the initial claim.

      If there is any delay, they will keep you informed.

  17. I have filed for disability. Can I apply for unemployment benefits while I wait for my disability?

    • You may not be able to claim UI benefits which is only provided to those who are able and available to work.

      Please inquire further with the labor dept in your state.

    • I am afraid, no.

      Unemployment Benefits are only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  18. My benefits will be exhausted very soon . How can I extend my benefits until I get a job.
    Thank You;

    Cheryl blois

  19. Please let us know the kind of help you’re looking for. To begin with, consider applying for Unemployment Insurance to receive monetary assistance. You can also lookout for resources available with your state for job assistance.

  20. i have been under doctors care and no longer can perform duties related to job due to mental health issues. if i resign my position do i qualify for unemployment?

  21. Is anyone else having an issue claiming their weekly nj unemployment benefits online? Every week for the past month I try to submit my weekly claim and am told my certification can’t be processed and i need to call instead. So I have to wait until Monday and call and have no problems submitting over the phone. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  22. Hello I was wondering what I need to do I was fired from my job. That was 6 weeks ago I applied for unemployment in Oregon and I called last week and they said it hasn’t even been assigned to anyone

  23. hi i just went to unimployment webpage here in fl. think i have benefits was told 240 weekly . question how do i or what do i do next will they ask me for my jobs i applied for or do i have to mail in. also when do i file for the next weeks or how. i am new at this and needed answers thank you danny

    • Please scout for more information on the website of the labor dept in your state.

      You would have also received instructions in the form of an e mail or post giving you detailed information. File as per timelines to avoid denial or delay in payment.

  24. My situation is got fired for supposedly refusing to serve a customer. When they came in I told them the register was down so I could not ring them up if they was paying with cash or credit card. Then I let them know that they would have to wait for a little bit if they order because nothing was cooked/prepared. They decided to go some place else. I was also accused of listening to music. When she finally went a checked on the cameras she saw me walking around and talking to customers, and watching people play pool. I do admit i was walking around talking to customers to let them know that the register was down so i could not ring them up for certain things. It may have looked like i was watching them play pool but i was talking to the customers that was asking me questions.

    • If you were truthful at work and feel let down for being fired indiscriminately, please consider raising a grievance with the labor authorities in your state under relevant laws.

    • Frank,

      Please specify the state you will be filing from.

      You can directly log onto the website of the labor dept in your state and file online.

  25. This site has no interactive help and provides more frustration than help. There are no links that you can click on to take you where you need to go. It’s impossible to even get into that stupid math box to answer it…36!!!

    • Please post these details where required as advised by the labor dept in your state.

      We are not a govt. organisation.

  26. Hi,

    I have 21 years of experience working as data entry assistant.I constantly read several blogs to keep my self up-to-date with the advances in data entry profession. I really enjoyed this blog post. From my several years of experience, I agree with you 100% when you say,”it is important that you understand how to file for unemployment and file the claim at the earliest opportunity”.

    Keep blogging. I will come here again.

    –data entry assistant

  27. I was fired two weeks ago, I have no source of income I have three kid’s to feed I’m living in a four closure home, three week’s eviction notice. and I’m having trouble getting to the correct website for unemployment

    • Please specify the state you worked,we can guide you.

      Otherwise you can use key words on Google to find out.

  28. I just received the Notice of Financial Determination yesterday. (4-12-14). Do I need to sign in for last weeks unemployment? What website would I use? Thank you.

    • I am not sure what the letter relates to.

      Please check the content thoroughly and call the customer service if required.

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