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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  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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

    1. Its high time they gibe you an accurate update. Please call and ask for a supervisor.

      Otherwise, see if you can visit the nearest office.

  4. 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

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  6. 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!!!

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

      We are not a govt. organisation.

  7. 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

  8. 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

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

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

  9. 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.

    1. I am not sure what the letter relates to.

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

  10. I filed for unemployment for the time period between Dec 23 and January 2nd, when I Certified they say more info needed and it took me two weeks to get a hold of them and I’m told to send in my first and last pay since they haven’t received any info from my new job yet so I did then after another week and a half of calling to get thru they tell me my last paystub was no good because they needed to see my year to date to see that I made over the amount required which I have made almost twice that and I’m told my w2 wont work because it shows the whole year which make no cense because it shows what I made since I started which is what they are questioning so I( fax that now they tell me more info required again and ask me the same questions I answered when I filed and it seems like I am just getting the run around, why is it after this I am answering the same questions, I am unable to answer them on line and had trouble figuring out how to print form in order to fax it back costing me more money and time.

  11. sir/madam I have been unemployed since January 14 I am not able to get through your phone online nor file online can someone please csll me it is amonth i have no income i need to file this application urgently please Rhank you 407-438-0557

  12. i started my claim on 12-28-13 and spoke to claim specialist and was told to start my weekly claim call in on Sunday 1-5-13 and when called on that day,and put my information in the prompt stated i wasn’t finish being process and to call back on Monday 1-6-13, and when call back on that day prompt told me to call back on Sunday 1-12-13 after 10:00 am to do my weekly claim, and is wondering why? And still waiting on statement in mail to let me know how much since i was approved, and how long is it going to take before i receive my money, and also on the quarters that i missed by a point since i still have wages in Illinois once these funds are gone can i fill my Illnois and combine my wages for my extension?

  13. I have been filing unemployment since Dec 6 2013 Still has not received any acknowledgment that Im even filing on internet. How can I make sure everything is alright with my filing andy

  14. I claimed for the last two weeks up to 12/07 and it said processing. And it says its been paid to me. But nothing is in my account. Also it says taxable benefits paid $1000 something. And I never collected any benefits. The first time I was denied. This time I claimed is the first time im actually supposed to “get” anything

  15. I was approved for benefits for 26 weeks at 275.00/wk. I call as instructed on 11-25-13 this NO. 1-800-262-8094 and the automated told me I was not qualified. Whats going on. I run into this same problem with New Mexico last year in which they beat me out of 10 wks of pmts by using delaying tactics

  16. When should I start getting my check? Already got letter in mail staten if you meet the qualification you will be eligible for ??? Per week with total benefits of ????

  17. I got letter in mail says if you meet all eligible I will receive ?? Per week with total benefits of???? What is next? Done all that they needed. Just wondering when should I start getting my check?

  18. I quit my self employed job in April and took a seasonal job wsitressing from May 2013-Oct 26 2013.. accordingvto the estimated benefits calendar it says I didn’t work enough qualifying quarters but said to contact a rep because I mat still be eligible. I cant get through to anyone his phone for 2 weeks. Any suggestions? I start work again in May 2014 . Its a seasonal resort

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  20. I have forgotten my user name and password for my unemployment debit card and can’t access my benefits so that I can do my banking this week. Could you help me to reset these items so I can get my banking done this week, please send me a yes answer to my e-mail address above. Tell me what I need to do to accomplish this task this this week. Thank you for your assistance. William A.Hershberger

  21. I’m trying to gain access to my unemployment benefits on my debit card as i have forgotten both my user name as well as my password. would you be able to help me reset both of these items so that i can get my done this week.

  22. I filed September 9th, It is now October 25th and I have not received any benefit’s. I have tried to call and lines area always busy. Please Help, I am counting on someone else for my housing, with no money it’ almost impossible to go to interviews. Please respond!

  23. With the new system, I cannot find where to claim my last 2 weeks. I’m due to claim for it. Where do I need to go for it? there is a note in my messages stating to submit next request beg 10/23 thru 11/7. Tried calling and automated system hangs up on me.

  24. To Whom It May Concern,

    Hello, my name is Rebecca Duncan and I have filed for unemployment months ago. I have yet to receive any benefits .I was called by the unemployment office weeks ago to answer some questions and that they told me they were in the process of deciding my claim that week. I still have not received any information about my claim and have been filing my bi- weekly claims. I would like to know if I will be receiving any benefits? I have been active in looking for a new job, but I havent had any luck yet. I have tried to call the unemployment offices and have been unable to talk to anyone. Can some one Please Help Me!

    Thank You

    Rebecca Duncan

  25. I’ve worked from Jan 2013 until May 2013. I was terminated failed to meet comission standards for contiuned employment. I applied May 30, 2013. I went to the UI office I was advised they have not determined
    my case. What your thoughts?
    P.S. total earnings $4,400.

  26. I have been trying for hours to file my weekly certification…. says the site is down….. im so dissapointed …. i depend on this while i search for work…. i do wish these errors would be corrected …. its not the first time its the third ….. now i will not recieve my benefits on time and its the websites fault …. this site is very informative …. im glad to have all the info included just let down by the recertification site

  27. I was working a part-time job and making about 500-600 biweekly. It was not enough! However, after an exhaustive job search whereby I had 3 offers and 2 other interviews to yet finish, i was given a “do or die how much will it take to get you here now offer.” I gave him the number it would take and took the offer only supplying my previous part-time employer a two day notice. I began working for this new company at 18/hour no benefits and no paid lunch or break periods. I worked hard and was receiving praises from the office manager, the sales lead coordinator, with the promise that I would be promoted shortly. I worked there 8 days. Although I was working ill without breaks and with a good attitude for two days, I finally went to the doctor and it was determined that I had strep-throat and although i waned to work, i was told by the office manager not to come in unless i got a letter saying when i would be no longer contagious. My doctor told me that “I could work if I wanted to and was only contagious if i was to kiss someone!” But, to accommodate my need to rest and gave me a note to return Monday. ( missing a total of two days without pay) When I came in I was told by the owner that it was my last day. HE was willing to supply me with Recommendation/Reference, and I wasn’t being fired for becoming ill. It was that he simply did not have a place that was fit for me any longer. I asked for an explanation and I was told it wasn’t me… Now, This has devastated my resume and the integrity of my work history. What can I do, all of the jobs I turned down were gone, the interview positions had been filled too. The company that really wanted to hire me has a position for me. But I will not be certain of that and the training will not start until August 12. Its 72 miles from where i live. I am a single mother of three. Am I eligible for anything?

    1. Hi Deborah,

      Looks like you were laid off from your job as you mentioned that the employer had no work for you. Under such cases, you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits, provided you qualify for other eligibility requirements as well. Please go ahead and file a claim to determine your eligibility.

  28. I applied for unemployment 2nd week of may 2013. They continue to say my unemployment benefits are crediting an over payment account. I was previously told my benefits had to be manually over ridden, and that I did not owe the state of ohio, which is true, I don’t owe, but no one has adjusted my account so I can receive my weekly check. Its been almost 1 month and I have yet to receive anything. Does this happen often?

  29. I have to quit my job in Colorado to move with my husband overseas due to a military move.. Can I apply for unemployment while living overseas??

    1. Hi Ashley,

      This is a complex situation. While abroad, one will not be able to receive benefits if they are on a vacation. Please check with the unemployment office as we cannot determine your eligibility.

  30. I am a Nuclear Contractor, and I work in numerous states. I called Ohio on April 30, the last state I worked in and the state I live in. I was directed to file back in North Carolina where my last claim was filed, after two weeks NC tells me my benefits were emergency and I’m not eligible. Now, I file back in Ohio and still NO benefits, it’s been 5 weeks and Im being thrusted back and forth in the State beauracracy. What is it I can do to get MY benefits?

  31. I received a letter from your office asking for addistional information. please contact at this e-mail. I’ve tried all day to reach you by the number given by you. with no answer. am unaware of what you need. Thank you.

  32. It really is a nice in addition to beneficial piece of facts. I’m thankful that you distributed this helpful details with us. You should be united states informed like that. Many thanks spreading.

  33. I filed my claim on April 28, 2013. How much longer will it be before i receive my first check i have bills piling up and have yet to find work?

    1. Hi Tonja,

      You need to serve only one waiting week after which you should be receiving benefits. You have waited for a month now. Have you received a determination letter from the unemployment office? This letter would state if you have qualified or not. Also, have you started your weekly claims? If not, please start claiming and you should be able to receive benefits.

  34. It is actually a great and useful section of details. I’m delighted that you simply contributed this useful info about. You need to continue to be us all informed this way. Thank you for expressing.

  35. I have quit work 2 weeks ago for unfair treatment and I applied for unemployment for allied barton and I was was wondering if I was excepted or if there was a problem

    1. Hi Kelly,

      After filing your initial claim, you must file your weekly claim. Unemployment office takes about a week to determine you eligibility to receive benefits, but you must claim weekly without waiting. Since you have quit the job, the burden of proof is on you to show that you suffered unfair treatment.

  36. I started receiving unemployment checks in October 2012 which was to run until September. Ireceved notification I had run out of funds. WHY

    1. Hi John,

      The amount of benefit you receive depends on how much you earned. The reason you ran out of funds may be because your term was over or you had earned only to receive benefits till now or there were some sequestration or cuts in the budget.

  37. I have been out of work since the 14th of January 2013.

    I have been filing weekly, as instrcted. I just noticed that today, February 28,2013 that I have a deposit for $82.00 in my bank account. I am concerned about the past amount I should have comng. I received a letter saying I was eligible for $275.00 a week and the $82.00 is all I have received. When will I get the back amount?

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