File for Unemployment – The Ultimate Guide

Author : Ray

Updated : June 19th, 2019

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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  2. I was fired from my job today and really need someones help on how to file for my unemployment please, my wife dose not work and i was my familys only income and now we have nothing, i just need help on filing for my unemployment please can you help me with this matter.

    1. I would also like to add that we have two children that are also depenting on me and i really need help to file, we have no job, no money and alot of bills to take care of not including my children and wife, if anyone can help me with this it really would be very helpful.
      Thank you for your time.

      1. Just follow the above article procedure to claim the benefits, also if you children who are not working and below the age of 18 you can also add up for the dependency benefits amount claim..

  3. Hello my family member! I want to say that this post is amazing, great written and come with approximately all vital infos. I’d like to see extra posts like this .

  4. I got a job and started this week unfortunatly The problem is they pay bi weekly and I started at the wrong time so its going to be 2 weeks before I see any money. Am I allowed to collect untill I recieve my first pay check?
    MA resident

    1. No you will not be able to get the benefit at any case at this situation, but still if you try to get then it will be considered as fraud and you may also been punished….

    2. you can apply for UI benefits only if you are considered as unemployed in your case you are already working for a company then you will not be able to get the benefits.

  5. I was training on a job for a few months. Office closed. I received in the mail a month later a unexpected check. I called unemployment to let them know about this check. They have stopped payment pendng an investgatation. How much trouble am I in?

  6. I was injured on my job on May 28 2011 and have been recving Work Comp benefits. There is a settlemnt dispute pending in the court, and I have not recvd benefis since Jan. 3rd 2012. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits, and if so,what do I put for last day worked?

  7. I worked in 2 states this year i had the pleasure of working in PA over the summer with my UNION we work on power for your state …My question is i worked only 2 weeks there can i open a claim in PA and get unemployment ???

  8. I worked in Florida where I reside. With the same company for 5 years.
    I received UI for 26 weeks. That was 9 months ago when they cut me off.
    I am working 1 day per week part time now! Why did I not receive Federal
    UI for the 99 weeks everyone is talking about?????????

  9. I worked and received unemployment from Texas. I now live in Virginia. I just received a letter from Texas Workforce Commission that legislation passed effective December 11, 2011 for Texas’ Tier 4, and called the number with telepromt questions. I received this in the mail in Virginia where I live, and my address is updated online since moving here. My question is, am I allowed to receive Tier 4 while living here? I am still unemployed, exhausted all my other benefit Tiers, and am still actively searching, but I do not want to collect, and then be required to pay back???

  10. I quit my job and my status is now in appeal, but does it automatically start after 12 weeks no matter what? Im in arkansas thanks

  11. hello-
    I was let go because my Employment Authorization Document expired. My job didn’t want to let me go but the actual process to get my renewed EAD was taking much longer and my job couldn’t keep me until they had the actual renewed EAD. I filed for unemployment in NJ and was denied for the same reason.My employee informed me that they will take me back as soon as my renewed EAD came through. I received my renewed EAD months later but by then the economy took a sudden nosedive and my job was unable to take me back. I moved to FL then back to NJ looking for ANY type of work and haven’t been able to find any. Its been over 3ys there any chance I can refile for unemployment? How long do you have to file unemployment after you stop working? What about if you’ve been denied by unemployment? Can the case be reopened? I’m asking because several people has told me I might still be able to collect. Thanks for any information you provide.

  12. Wait what I mean is and sorry for any confusion, we are being hired but the store will not open until the week before Thanksgiving, can we collect Unemployment in the meantime, until we are on the payroll?

  13. Hi, I work for a large Grocery Chain they have recently sold to another chain, our store will be closing on October 17th, 2011 it will be 5-6 weeks before the new store opens and alot of us are being hired now, those being hired forfeits severance pay, but what do we all do in the meantime? Can we collect unemployment in the State of Texas even though we are being hired once our store is rennovated?

  14. I have been on unemployment for a year in California and just got a job, I quit the job after only 3 days because they wanted me to work 60-70 hour weeks, can I still get my unemployment benefits since I only worked 3 days?

  15. Hi – I am collecting unemployment and my husband was recently laid off. When he files for unemployment does he claim me as a dependant since I’m not working or does he claim no dependants since I’m currently collecting unemployment?

  16. im in california, i worked at a company for 2 years then got laid off, i received all the unemployment benefits and extensions possible but am still unemployed, at the top of the last check is a stub, it says “if unemployed, you may be entitled to file a new claim” what does this mean?? i have the understanding that theres quarters like jan/feb/mar=1st quarter, apr/may/june=2nd quarter,july/aug/sept=3rd quarter,oct/nov/dec=4th quarter now it says that a claim is good for 1 year and its based on these quarters so if i worked at my job for 2 years can i file for the second year that i worked at this job or was the second year included in these quarters

  17. I worked in PA for 1 year moved to FL worked there for 5 months and was laid off. I filed for UC benefits in FL they said I had to file in PA because it should no base period in FL at the time, 12-2010. I filed in PA and received 26 wks of benefits now I have 3 wks and my benefits will run out. I want to apply for EUC but they say you can’t get EUC if you can receive from another state. Do I apply now for FL benefits because it will show base weeks for FL now? I’m very confused and don’t want to do anything that would get me in trouble, because of a honest mistake. Question is do I file for FL benefits because my benefits have ran out in Pa, or do I just file for EUC benefits?

  18. I have never applied for unemployoment before. I did not know you can if you worked with an agency. I need help asap

  19. This is for comments, not life stories. Call your states (the one your living in/claim residency in) and they will give you up to date and accurate information. Do not expect a response here.

  20. Hello. I was terminated with the Home Depot in April 2009. I was denied unemployment due to my employer stating I quit. This is not true! I filed a reconsideration claim but was still denied. I had health problems so I filed for disability but four months later got denied. Unemployment thought I was getting disability so they wouldn’t give me unemployment. I looked for work for a month and went back to school after losing the job. I did not receive any unemployment check even for the one month I looked for work. I was denied disability because I received an unexpected source of income from a deceased relative. It has been two years and due to health reasons i have not worked since but have staying in school. Last year I reapplied for disability but last month Feb 2011 got denied disability yet again. At this point, can I reapply for unemployment or is it too late? I am willing and able to go back to work and have already been looking for a month and had two interviews. Can someone give me some help to know what my options are? Thank you.

  21. I was laid off last week and filed for NJ unemployment benefits. My former HR interviewed me for position that had late shift hours only. I attend school at night …am I required to take the later shift position?

  22. I just got a job but was unemployeed for 3 months. I have a appeal hearing in two weeks if I report my job will it hurt my hearing and will I get the benefits for the time I was unemployeed?

  23. If I start working FT and don’t start getting paid in the new job until a month after the start date, what do I do?! Can I still get unemployment benefits; do I report it when I am working or when I finally get paid?! Thanks in advance!

  24. I apparently missed a certification date that i didnt think i missed so went back on 2 weeks later to certify for the current weeks. gave me a message that it was mon and cant file till thurs. then tryed to file on thurs and message said that i am not certifying in a timely manner and must reapply which i did and was approved. my question is am i able to get back pay for the last month or did i pretty much screw myself?

  25. Hi…My husband was terminated from his job the last week of Aug.2010. He filed for unemplyment, he received one check then got a letter stating that his ex-company had appealed. We hire a lawyer, waited a long period of time for the hearing(with NO money)…the day the hearing was scheduled, it was cancelled. It was cancelled because the ex-company said that the paper work was sent to the wrong address… So about a week later the hearing was held, two weeks later we learned that we had won. He was still filing without receiveing any money, we are at the bottom of our funds waiting for this retro pay…then we learn now that his ex-company is appealing the decision! My question is…how often does this happen? How long does this take? And when does our money ever come? There isn’t any money left!!! We live in PA.

  26. I have filed for Unemployment Benefits while living in the state of California. I was told I would not have a disruption of benefits if I moved to another state. I moved to Utah (for more a temporary living situation while I looked for jobs in CA and Utah), and my benefits were exhausted December 11th, 2010. I missed the Feded extension by 1 week (if I were still living in CA). I am confused, how can I get an extension? Do I need to move back to California (really, I’m between the two states), or is there another way to file or receive benefits while I look for work? I’ve never received an extension, ever.


  27. My dad was laid off two years ago he drew up to the 3rd ter and at that time there was no 4th ter. his last check was in july he is still out of work but he stoped certifing is he elagible for the 4th ter

  28. i live in, i had earnings in ohio and pennsylvania, can i file a new unemployment claim in pennsylvania?

  29. If someone I know was fired for reasons that are questionable, (after enduring a long period of time in a hostile work environment), files for unemployment and at the same time reports the company for OSHA violations. She then receives unemployment benefits for the entire time period prescribed. But when she tries to request an extension she is denied and learns her employer filed an appeal early on in the case, to which she did not respond because she never received notice. What can she do to obtain a copy of the appeal and file a response even though the time allotted to do so has expired? Shouldnt she have been notified when she called in to certify after unemployment knew of the appeal, placing her benefits on hold at that time rather than at the time she tries to reapply??

  30. I was unemployed in 2009, I have worked FT since Jan. 2010, but was just laid off from my current employer Nov. 1, 2010 . My first unemployment claim year is still ‘active’, but I could not file a weekly certification on that claim since it had been 11 months since my last claim. I opened a new claim; however it is not yet reflecting that when I pull up my account. The company I work from is Headquartered in Boston, MA-but I live and work in NC. Should I file unemployment in NC or MA? I just tried to file my weekly certification and I get the message that my claim can not be processed due to a question of eligibility? What do I do?

  31. I have been working at my last job for 2 years and i got laid off due to my store closing. I did recieve unemployment and within two months I found new job and I’ve been working here for 4 months and now their closing will I be able to recieve benefits again?

  32. I lived in Washington state my whole life and always worked there. 6 months ago I moved to North Carolina. I filed for unemployment in WA State last week. Do i need to file for it in NC instead of WA? Even though i have not worked since I moved?

  33. Hello,
    I currently work as a contractor for an American company working with the US Military in Kuwait. The company I work for is based out of Texas, but due to our contract not being extended I am being laid off. I have been working with this company for about 8 months, prior to working here I was working with another US contractor based out of Virginia here in Kuwait since May of 2009. Both companies paid us from the US and direct deposited our checks in US accounts, I have pay statements and W2’s so I wasn’t paid by a foreign company. Prior to coming here I lived in Washington State for most of my life and have a Washington States ID, but used my parents address in Nevada as my home of record because I was not maintaining an address in Washington. So my question is if I am being laid off from a company that pays me in Texas, I worked for a company also paying me from Virginia, I have an address that I have never stayed at in Nevada on my pay check, and had Washington State residency, where would I apply for unemployment, does it matter which one I choose? Additionally I am available and actively looking for work, but I plan on staying in the region for the duration of my exit visa in search of jobs. What should I do?

  34. Hi
    I’ve been trying to apply for Michigan unemployment for the last 6 months. None of the phones the internet information has giving me work. I worked @ the Toyota Dealer on 28th st in Grand Rapids, MI for 2 years and a half. Is there anything can you help me with? I am jobless right now and I’m a student, and a gas money really will help me with my unemployment. I really appreciate if someone can call me 787-412-1226.

    Rewel J Estrella

  35. my daughter has full custody of her daughter. she lives in her home. the father only pays child support and gets to see his daughter only if the mother agrees. he is now after her to give him her social security number so he can claim her on unemployment. is this legal.

    1. NO! Its just like taxes. If the child lives with the mother throughout the year than the father has zero rights to claim her. If he does do this than it is unemployment fraud and could very well land him in jail if he is caught.

  36. I am a music teacher in FL at a private religious school I was laid off due to budget and have filed for UI. I was told I can’t get it b/ it was a religious institution? Is this right? My county is in a hiring freeze so I can’t get another job! Is there a way around this?

  37. I have a question My son-law just been lay-off he will be able to collect if he does find a job and after a 3 month period is lay-off again will he be able to collect from his former employer he is concern about losing his U.C.


  38. I have a question about unemployment, What if my company lays me off for a couple of days at a time? Do I still file? They are just in between jobs and just not busy enough to keep me working. This happened over the past winter in February for six days also. Just wanting to know if I should file. They do plan on keeping me there as long as they have work.

    1. I have a question about unemployment. What if the company I work at reduces my hours from 40 hours per week to 20 hours a week. Can I still collect unemployment.
      Thanks, Robert

  39. I work part time and will not be working for 2 weeks last day of work was Aug 21, 2010, get paid every 2 weeks and will not receice another check until Sept. 24, 2010, and last check will be Aug 27, 2010

    1. If you are intended to claim in CA, just logon to CA UI website directly with your social security number and file the claim as simple as it is…

  40. I am trying to file for unemployement benefits on line and the website keeps sending me back to the Welcome page. Can’t get any further with the filing and the phone lines are always busy. Help!

    1. There are only these two ways to file your claim either over phone or through online… might be some server is down or something like that keep on trying you could be able to reach and claim……

  41. i have just recently received and early retirement package because my department was declared a surplus am i able to apply for unemployment

    1. Probably not. You could if forced to retire, but it sounds like you took voluntary retirement as an alternative to being laid off. Once again it depends on how you are taking your payments … age, qrts of credit, situation at previous employer ..

  42. Hi im currently in the military i have less than five days until i get out. My wife had a very good job but now she is on call or works at all. Can we both collect unemployement? We are located in california. just hoping if that can help.

    1. Will, considering your situation based on the working hours and the wages earned you will be able to get the UI benefits.. in the case of your wife if she satisfies the eligibility criteria then even she can afford to get the benefits….

  43. Have you tried getting the answer to your question from the website of your state’s employment development department, or called their office to ask them the question? You don’t have to tell them who you are, you just need a question answered.

    I don’t know how it works in Washington, but I am thinking that if you quit your side job first (like immediately), and stay on your primary job until it ends, you will probably be o.k., and your unemployment will be based on your last employer, which will be the job that laid you off.

    Just don’t go back to your side job, since it was misrepresented to you, and doesn’t sound like the job you believed you were applying for, on top of the fact that it is so far from where you live. In the meantime, be looking for something else.

    I live in California, and quit my job of 2 years (hated it!). After about 4 months of not being able to find another job, I finally found something part-time. After about 3 weeks of 10-16 hours a week on my new job, I applied for unemployment, and got it. The amount I get is based upon my earnings from my PREVIOUS employer (the one I quit). I have to look for full-time work every week, since my previous job was a full-time job. No problem looking. BIG problem finding a full-time job! In the meantime, I have unemployment to help and when that ends, I will use up whatever I have left in savings to get by. After that, who knows.

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