Unemployment Benefits

Updated : October 5th, 2021

Unemployment benefits are monetary payments made by the state or other certified bodies to laid-off people. These benefits are provided depending on the status of the unemployed person, and to those who get themselves listed as unemployed, and who are seeking a job. The state offers unemployment benefits through insurance programs within rules set by Federal Law, to its nationals who apply for it. The state law also decides the ability for unemployment insurance, benefit amounts and duration for which benefits are obtainable.

How Much can you Receive as Unemployment Compensation?

Unemployment benefits are planned to partially restore lost wages, so the exact amount you receive will be based on what you used to earn. States employ special formulae to compute benefit payments, but all states take earlier earnings into account in some way. Some states think the employee’s previous annual earnings while others look at the employee’s earnings during the highest paid quarter or two quarter of the base period.



All states also place an upper limit on the weekly benefit amount. A common formula is to pay half of what of what the employee used to earn, up to a cap that’s tied to the average earnings in that state. This means that employees with higher wages may collect a larger overall benefits check, but a lesser percentage of what they used to earn. The highest amount an employee can obtain each week differs widely from state to state.

Some states offer an additional benefit amount to employees with dependents but these tend to be small.

State Unemployment Benefits Comparison

The top states which pay highest unemployment compensation are Massachusetts ($939) followed by Rhode Island ($688), then Connecticut ($630), New Jersey ($611) and Pennsylvania ($581).

The top states that pay the lowest unemployment compensation are Mississippi ($235), Arizona ($240), Louisiana ($247), Alabama ($265) and Florida – $275 respectively.

This following table provides a complete list of unemployment benefits and duration for all states.

Unemployment Benefits Comparison

NOTE: for remaining states, check Unemployment Benefits Comparison by State

How to Calculate Unemployment Benefits?

We have developed Unemployment Calculator that gives you an estimate of your benefits.

If you would like to understand how benefits amount is calculated, here are the steps involved:

  1. Assess your state’s unemployment insurance rules. Get in touch with the workforce division and inquire what formula is currently being used to compute weekly benefit rates (WBRs). States may vary a little on how unemployment benefits are figured. In addition to the formula, request the state for the maximum and the minimum WBRs. For purposes of this example, assume the maximum WBR is $600 and the minimum is $25.
  2. Find out your base period. The base period is a set of months used to compute your WBR. It is generally the last four out of five calendar quarters.
  3. Average your earnings during the base period. You can do this by summing up the wages earned in each month and dividing it by the applicable number of months. Some states may only use the average of the highest two months during your base period, such as Colorado. Other states such as New Jersey, multiply the average by a exact percentage (60% in New Jersey). For purposes of this article, average the complete the base period and multiply it by 60. Presume the average wages you received all through your period is $12,000. Multiply $12,000 by 60; the end result is $7,200
  4. Divide the averaged wages by 26 (which represent the number of weeks you can stay on unemployment). The result must be equivalent to or more than the minimum WBR and it cannot go beyond the maximum WBR i.e. $600 here. In this example, you would be entitled to approximately $276 per week in benefits ($7,200 divided by 26).

Weekly Compensation

Every state sets an upper limit on the total weekly benefit amount. A common formula is to give half of what the employee used to receive. This means that employees with higher wages may obtain larger overall benefits check, but a lesser percentage of what they used to earn. The highest amount an employee can obtain each week differs extensively from state to state.

Unemployment Benefits

Dependent Allowance

Some states offer an additional benefit amount to employees with dependents. These amounts tend to be less; most states that provide this benefit offer $25 per dependent per week in added benefits. Unemployment benefits are chargeable. You may opt to have up to 10% of your benefit amount withheld to pay federal income taxes.

What if you work part-time during unemployment?

If you receive other income while receiving unemployment, that may lessen the amount of benefits obtainable to you. Certainly, if you find a new job, you will no longer be entitled for unemployment. But if, for instance you pick up temporary work for a day or two while you are otherwise without a job, you must report your earnings to the state unemployment agency, which will decide whether your unemployment benefits must be reduced to reflect those earnings.

How Do You Get Unemployment Benefits?

Eligibility

Before you learn more about unemployment benefits, check unemployment eligibility article to make sure you are qualified to receive unemployment benefits. You ought to qualify for gaining these compensation benefits, people who fail short to earn wages during one year, or are jobless through no fault of their own come under the general eligibility criteria.

Ineligibility from gaining unemployment benefits can occur if you quit a job without good reason, have resigned due to illness, are fired for misconduct, have become self-unemployed, have left the job for getting married, have been a part of a labor argument or have left due to educational engagements.

Usual benefits are paid for a maximum of 26 weeks in most of the welfare states. In numerous states the repayment in monetary terms is half of the earning of an average working person, for instance in New York, $405 is provided to the unemployed mass which is half of the state’s average weekly wage of a working person.

Apply For Benefits

In case you fall under the qualifying criteria for unemployment benefits you can apply online or via telephone or you can visit your state unemployment office for claiming them. In order to claim the benefits you require; social security number, alien registration card (if not a US citizen), telephone numbers, Names, postal mailing address including zip code, addresses and dates of employment of all your past employers for the last two years. It hardly takes two weeks for getting the pay check of compensation after you have claimed for these benefits, direct deposit or debit card. If your claim is accepted once, you can file for these benefits very easily, by just a single call of email. You have the right to request the denial of your unemployment claim, if your claim is refused by your employer.

Additional Eligibility Criteria

The states that offer such benefits to the masses normally require that the person obtaining these benefits must continue his/her hunt for finding a job. They want an assurance that the recipients of unemployment benefits must be ready, willing, available, and able to work whenever he/she finds a job. Furthermore the states may also require unemployed people to enthusiastically apply for jobs, submit resumes, and not refuse if it seems appropriate for them.

Unemployment Insurance – Other Benefits

Financial assistance is just one part of unemployment insurance benefits. There are numerous other benefits such as Job Search Assistance, Career Coaching, and Extension of Unemployment Benefits beyond standard 26 weeks during times of high unemployment.

The idea of unemployment insurance program is not only to give temporary living assistance, but able to guarantee that the job market is stable and sustainable. For this reason, most of the State Unemployment Insurance Programs offer quite a few benefits other than the monetary assistance.

Job Search Assistance

State Unemployment Agencies assist you get an appropriate job by providing job aid tools. Such tools will help you look for job openings, build resume, research current wage information etc. In addition, you can obtain industry and job-related trends, and recognize career opportunities in new fields.

The Employment Interviewer will review your education/work history and help match your skills to jobs obtainable in our area. They are in close contact with local employees and in tune with the local labor market. They can hunt their databank for jobs that interest you and, if you meet the employer’s qualifications refer you to job openings. If possible, they may even plan an interview for you!

Career Coaching

Numerous states offer career coaching services. Workshops and training sessions are available for workers who have become unemployed so that they can develop their current skills or learn new ones. Continually expanding skills helps to increase the chances of finding new jobs and probably achieve success all through the career.

Please realize that not all programs are provided free, however states negotiate fees with training institutions just for you. Get in touch with state unemployment offices to ask about the expenses and make the best use of these programs.

Extension of Unemployment Benefits

In a normal economic climate, nearly all states offer unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, or half a year, though a handful of states now provide benefits for fewer weeks. However, the total period for which a former employee can obtain benefits has been extended several times, through two separate programs. Based on when and where the employee began collecting unemployment, an employee might be qualified to collect benefits for up to 73 additional weeks. The cost of the “extended benefits” is paid regularly from state and federal funds.



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  1. I was fired through no fault of my own in the state of NJ. I was hired to help build an apparel startup. Hired for coming from a corporate background, I would make my professional suggestions on how to improve and develop product as that type of information was always welcomed but unfortunately not utilized. During my time, I’ve repeatedly tried to help the company to avoid costly mistakes in the future when it came to producing apparel, yet my boss preferred to always “wing it” change direction and never follow any type of calendared process. Fast forward and to no surprise to me there is an issue with production and I’m informed with vague information and so as a professional, I remind the owners (again) of the proper protocol that I’ve been suggesting and believing that they finally understood this now. But the understanding was an awakening that was too late (as it seems). Therefore a week later, I was fired as a cut in finances, With no severance, I ask for a confirmation on days worked in order to claim for unemployment due to the financial reduction but then am emailed that due to my decision making that the company lost thousands of dollars and that I didn’t perform my job. I continued to apply for my claim and was denied with allegations that in addition to losing thousands of dollars that I now stole candy (of all things) from the company under footage which is false, and that I watched movies on my phone which was also a false claim. The adjudication office has reached out to me to give me 2 days to reply against the ridiculous allegations and I have replied to all her points of accusations. I had also added more information which I regret now because I was a bit emotional because of the low blows that came my way. Nevertheless, the email had been sent and I am now waiting to see the next steps.
    My question is this. In the state of NJ, what are the next steps for determination?
    Will my former employer read my comments which will only add fuel to the fire (which is true on the additional emotional writing) and then create more lies?
    Have employers gotten away with denying claims by creating false claims?
    This is not what I had expected nor planned to rebuttal in an adjudication.
    I only wanted unemployment pay while I continue to look for work.

  2. I went on medical leave in 2016. I had 2 years of approved leave with pay and benefits. Over the past 2 years, I continued on medical. In May of 2018 my employer tried to terminate for refusing to follow the company doctor’s recommendation to return to work with restrictions in a non hazardous area. I was never informed of where to report or when to report for work. I didn’t even know of the attempted termination until I didn’t receive my bi-weekly payment. I filed a greviance to get my job, pay, and benefits back and was awarded a temporary re-instatement until I had a third party doctor exam. During all of this, I reached my 2 year limit on pay and benefits. Once the 3rd party medical exam was done, the doctor sided with me that there were health reasons for not restoring me to my previous position. But he also agreed with my employer’s company doctor offer of returning to work with restrictions in a non hazardous area. My employer informed me at that time they had no jobs available for me. Since I no longer receive pay or benefits I filed for unemployment. The state said that my employer objected to my request for umeployment on the grounds that I’m weeking fulltime for them and now it has been 6 weeks pending adjudication. I receive no pay no benefits and was told I don’t have a job from my employer. How can they hold up my unemployment pay?

    1. Gil,

      Thank you for writing to us. The outcome of the adjudication depends on the paperwork/documents you submit supporting your stance. Please make sure to prepare well and argue confidently in your favor.

  3. I live in the state of Nevada and had filed for unemployment a few months back in June and was denied because of not earning enough funds in that quarter which show that I’m trying to open a claim on a previous claim considered double dipping. I was told that if I worked and made $1,200 then that would be enough to fulfill and be approved for unemployment claim for the new quarter. I did work a new job started the job as a project assistant for a plumbing company to which the hiring manager knew I had never worked in plumbing but had over 20 years in construction. All in all I worked really hard to understand the plumbing industry but I could never satisfy my supervisors expectations and the last week of me working she basically took ball work from me and kept saying she will handle it even though I would ask every hour or less if there is something that I could do, she kept denying me any work because she was frustrated that I couldn’t do the job is good as she did even though she’s been there for 30 years. I was receiving unemployment funds for the past 3 weeks and suddenly I have to wait till November 2nd for an adjudication meeting and my funds have been placed on hold until then. Can my claim be denied because I could not do the job she expected even though she hired me knowing my previous experience? What should I expect now?

    1. Brooke,

      There is a thin line. It can go against your since expectations were not met or it can also be in your favor for unreasonable demands from your supervisor. If you think you have a strong case, make sure to argue well and present all supporting paperwork.

  4. The state of Oregon UI told my spouse every claim that isn’t due to lack of work now goes through adjudication! Is that true or are they just saying that because she ‘resigned en leiu of termination’ in her trial period? She worked for the state, and didn’t want to be unable to find employment in another department.

    1. Ambrose,

      I don’t know if this is true. How can you confirm? By calling the office again and asking for a different representative to speak to.

    2. Yes, this is true, Oregon will adjudicate any “employment separation” that isn’t due to a lack of work. FYI they’ll also treat a resignation in lieu of termination as her being fired because if your wife’s employer told her “quit or you’ll be fired”, she didn’t really have much of a choice and she was going to lose her job either way.

  5. I was terminated while on Workers Comp. The employer didn’t call me, I was notified a month after the fact by the insurance carrier for the employer! And get this,,,When I opened my UI case to start benefit payments, I notated in the questionnaire that I have a lifting restriction imposed by the Doctor but that I can still physically work and I’m currently available to work….and I was denied UI benefits.
    I’m appealing.

    1. Will,

      I think you should be eligible to collect UI benefits under such circumstances. Please make sure to keep supporting documents handy to support your stance during the Appeal.

  6. I’m currently appealing an availability issue in Massachusetts. I was accepted to a local community college never enrolled and because at the time when I applied I stated I was accepted they denied me. I was laid off due to lack of work it was a temporary position on August 3, 2018. My previous employer I was with 2+years, however I did quit that job which I’m sure doesn’t help my claim, however I’ve submitted everything from my most recent employer including wages which redetermined me eligible. Now I’m appealing my availability… I’ve contacted the college to get verification letter stating I’m not enrolled nor have I ever been but due to their protocols they fought me tooth and nail to get this verification. Stating there’s nothing to send if I’ve never been so there. Last week they finally sent a certified seal enrollment letter that shows I am inactive and never enrolled or registered within that institution. I think it was to stop me from constantly contacting them. Will this help remove the availability disqualification? Also are availability cases easier to resolve?

    1. Lily,

      To offer a straightforward answer to your question, if you lost the previous job due to involuntary reasons (no fault of yours), you should be eligible to collect.

      1. So I just got my Late Appeal decision after sending in all necessary information as to why I was filing late pertaining to being offered a temporary job. The decision states DETERMINED.

        Not exactly sure what that implies. I’m assuming the worst though. Since no adjudicator ever called me. Can you please clarify?

        1. Lily,

          I suggest you call the Claims Center to find out the status. It more or less means the “Determination” process is now complete.

      2. UPDATE: I called the claims center to clarify the adjudicator’s decision they stated that it means I found eligible for the Late Appeal regarding my availability. The representative also stated that its very strange to be appealing a one party decision ( thus meaning appealing just myself.) Will I still have to continue with this hearing since my enrollment verification proves with a certified seal inactivity and no enrollment has ever been made? Are availability appeals easier to win since its not a wage or reason for termination I am appealing?

        1. Lily,

          This seems like a complicated situation. I suggest you ring up the adjudicator and consult him/her on further steps.

  7. my adjutication was removed and my case still says that im eligble and active does that mean the ruled in my favor ?

    1. Jeannette,

      That is correct. The authorities might have ruled in your favor and ruled out the need for an adjudication. Please call the office for clarification.

  8. After working at various jobs over the course of 24 years and never being fired,I finally was recently. The reason was arguing with a manager because she was unprofessional and baited me into a argument and I signed the statement she wrote against me before I left and now I wonder will the unemployment official side in my favor over me signing the statement..

    1. Jason,

      If you’re able to prove your position preferably with supporting documents, you should be able to collect UI benefits.

  9. Can you be denied unemployment after being terminated for allegedly making a customers grocery bags too heavy. Customer made a complaint that I packed her bags too heavy. When I had only put 4-6 items in each bag. This occurred while I worked for Meijer.

    1. That sounds like an awful reason to terminate employment. Please consider applying for UI benefits until you find employment. You may want to speak to the Unemployment Office in your state once before applying. Please call them.

  10. I moved to NC for a Job the employer begged for me to work for him. The job is 1 hour away. I got sick one day driving there and went to work and told the girl I was working with that I was sick and may need to go home so I call the the staffing lady and the own and told them I’m sick and I’m going home they said OK. Next day get a text saying I’m off for the next 2 think they could not find anyone to work with me see my tech went on vacation. When my tech came back from vacation they told her she will be working alone she sent me the text I was shocked because now it’s two weeks with out work I’m a fulltime worked get a w2 at the end of the year. I work the own stating what is going on why you not having me work I said I will have to file unemployment no response. Umployment told them I walked off the job when the all said I called them when I was leaving stating I was sick and they sent Umployment the call off work text they sent me its been 6 weeks and no amswer on my unemployment case help if you can

    1. Lace,

      Unemployment Insurance benefits are extended to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons. If you think this was the case, please consider filing until you find employment. Make sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute.

  11. I filed for unemployment in florida but then moved to Georgia, after I was unable to obtain a job in Florida. I was hired at amazon in Florida but have already moved to Georgia and receiving unemployment at the time. The unemployment is now adjudicating because it picked up that I was a new hire at Amazon but I Couldn’t work for Amazon seeing how I moved out of Florida before I was hired. It has now been eight weeks of claiming with a hold on my funds what will happen next?

    1. Ernest,

      If you still remain unemployed, you should be able to continue claiming UI benefits. Since you’ve moved to Georgia, you can consider transferring your claim over to the new state.

  12. I worked a 3 yr contract with an employment firm. That contract ended unexpectantly and I filed unemployment. The employer called me with 2 jobs. one of the jobs was at the company that I just left and the company had a 6-month wait and I was unsure if I could return to the company. I expressed this to the employer and they said that they would check to see if I could return to the employer. I was trying to avoid rejection/embarrassment for myself and the employer. I was submitted for 2 jobs.

    The employer filed a protest saying I had refused work. I spoke with the adjudicator. (Who called me a day earlier than our call) It turns out two jobs that of the two jobs they said I had refused. they had submitted me for one and the other was the job aforementioned. the employer never got back in touch with me and I eventually applied for the job.

    The adjudicator told me that I would receive two letters in the mail in 5 -7 business days and told me to keep certifying.

    Any idea where this is landing. The employer did not tell the truth and I sent documented information to our phone call. The adjudicator said that they had cancellations and that was why he was calling a day early.

    Any ramifications for the employer not telling the truth.

    1. It’s the time to make a strong case for yourself. Chase the adjudicator at regular intervals and submit the required documents in your support.

  13. I finally got the courage to do this as I now get Social Security but I doubt things have changed. Years ago when I was working I had a sales job and they did all sorts of sexist crap. They would not pay the spiffs to females. They called you names over the intercom. They would break things on products ordered and picked up by customers. People knew about it but would not come forth. When you saw something illegal going on that you were not supposed to see, you got fired. The employer lied about you to the DES and they even lied to future employers so that you never had respect once you worked at their place. The so called judges as your hearings admonished you for speaking out but there was nothing to be done unless others backed you up and they were afraid for their jobs. This still goes on. For the most part it is women judges doing the bidding of male employers. Some of these women should be asking themselves questions about the lives of others they were complicit in destroying. There never was any recourse for sexual harassment and discrimination and there still is not. Have any of these female judges ever thought to require further proofs from the employers. Has any judge ever compelled the employer to proof of sales or production exceeded by the women who have been fired? That would be the most telling. When other situations arise and the female employee has been with the company for more than five years, have any of these judges had the sense to ask if the person lasted with you that long and their last evaluation was superior enough to merit a raise, why do you all of a sudden doubt the employee? There is no common sense to these horrible women and they are there as judges because of their stupidity. The system is geared to protect only the rights of the employer so don’t be down on yourselves if you find yourself a victim because if the employer loses then you have a case! DES judges are paid to destroy people.

  14. Please contact me I’m going to be homeless loose vehicle they are holding my unemployment and I don’t know why I’ve been doing everything and more I’m a cancer patient and have to get to my therapy today I can’t go cause my trucks out of gas and no money

    1. Jerome,

      Hope you get out of this situation soon. Please let us know how we can help you. This is a private forum and our help can be limited. If you’re referring to Unemployment Insurance, please call the Claims Center for further inquiry.

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