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Unemployment Benefits

Updated : March 24th, 2023

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?


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 looking to see if I could have the application mailed to me so I am able to fill it out and turn it back

    • Nautica,

      Please note this is a private website and we do not have access to the claims system. Please visit the official website of the Unemployment Office where yo can find the related paperwork and also file the claim online.

  2. How does one go about filing for direct deposit for unemployment? and what do you do after you have filed, like 3 weeks ago?

    • Darwin,

      You should have received your payment by now. If you haven’t, please call the Claims Center for an update.

  3. I began work July 13, 2017 and was separated September 28, 2017 and earned $8,920. Am I eligible for unemployment compensation?

    • Please note this is a private forum and we do not have access to your records.

      You may call the Claims Center for an update on the dispatch date.

    • To obtain this information for tax purposes or otherwise, please visit the official website of the Unemployment Office and look for 1099-G.

      If you don’t find the relevant link, please call the Claims Center.

  4. Each state and territory decides the specific eligibility criteria that must be met to receive financial assistance payments or other types of benefits and services. Check with your local TANF office to learn whether you are eligible to receive financial assistance or other TANF benefits and services.

    • You should be able to see the summary and breakup when you log-in to your account online.

      Please call the Claims Center for further details.

    • Well, UI benefits are only provided to those who’re able and available for work.

      If the injury keeps you off from seeking work, you will not qualify. Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for further information.

  5. I have completed the calculation page form and meet requirements for $330 per week.

    I would like to begin ASAP receiving payments.

  6. To whomever wrote the first post. I am in the same situation. I have did everything under the moon and more to try and get my unemployment, I have made sure that I have my quarters in , that I was not fired, recertified, applying for work each week, and doing all that the unemployment benefit page requires. It has been a long time for me as well, do not give up keep your head up and you will get your money. Your working with the government here , they do not get in any hurry they do not have to get in any hurry and they will drag it out for as long as they want to . Its the truth of the matter so I do apologize. Just Have Faith my friends. I talked to an online rep from the Unemployment office today and she said it was taking anywhere from 8-15 weeks from the day you filed to get any payments out because there are a lot of people out of work. So say 68% of the United States American People are out of work due to layoffs and temporary agencies and what not. Let Go Let God and you will have your necessities. I PROMISE> MAY GOD BLESS YOU>

  7. I have attempted weekly certification from August 2013 to current (July 8th, 2014), literally every week including attempted calls to every phone number listed on the website on a daily basis, emails as well.
    Unfortunately, I have only received via mail a letter of approval, a debit card, and nothing more. I have lost my car via repossession, have been evicted from my apt, lost my contract for cell phone service, have had the electric power board disconnect my power multiple times due to failed payment, have had no transportation to get food and necessities for over 5 months, and have done without tv services, internet etc. all due to being laid off and not being able to obtain OWED UI. I’m now at a friends house emailing from their laptop in last attempt to try to obtain monetary benefits that I very much worked for. I must say I am a nurse practitioner and had to also let my license renewal lapse all due to no income to pay for my renewal!


    WILL SOMEONE PLEASE ADVISE ME ASAP- I CANNOT PROCEED TO GET MY INDEPENDENCE BACK WITHOUT RECEIVING STARTUP MONEY……HELP!!! My ex husband has exhausted his ability to help me with power reconnections, few groceries, few friends lent me food from their benefit card over this time, and few friends have churned up few dollars to appetize water bill on few instances. I’ve never had to utilize churches or 2-1-1 for emergency help ever in my life, but I assure this, I know how it feels to be on the bottom, perhaps sleeping in a cold or hot home due to the above, and poor nutrition which ultimately leads to poor health! God bless all of you for having to live in these conditions! And God bless me for having the ability and resource right now to voice this case. How can we do this to people in our own country ? How can we begin to take care of others outside of the US when in reality, I am in a crisis and can’t even get anything except help by friends who already don’t have the resources to share! I PRAY TO MY LORD THAT SOMEONE READS THIS AND WILL ACT ON THIS PHONE SYSTEM WITH THE UNEMPLOYMENT – ITS NOT WORKING, SO CAN WE FIX IT BEFORE WE KILL OUR OWN COMMUNITY? THIS IS NOT RIGHT AND I, MELISSA HALL WILL VOLUNTEER TO EVEN GO TO WORK FOR THIS UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE JUST TO HANDLE AND CORRECT THIS FLUKE! Thanks

    • Melissa,

      We can understand your plight. There are hundreds of you facing the same situation.The claims system in TN is known too be faulty and inefficient.

      I strongly recommend that you try visiting an office close to you.

  8. Can I receive my unemployment for previous 2 weeks if I start working the Monday before I call Marvin on Tuesday??

  9. PLEASE! Someone read and answer this. I am going to try to get my unemployment but I think my boss might have tricked me into signing my rights away.

    I have a general question about benefits but it requires a bit of a back story. Back in Apr 2013 I started working for a Life Insurance Company (Western Southern) as an insurance salesman. I didn’t like selling JUST life insurance so I decided to go to a well known, reputable company (We’ll call it SF) so I could focus my efforts on Auto, Homeowners, Mortgages, Banking, as well as Life Insurance.

    I W&S in early December and started to work at SF in Mid-December. I knew that the employer wanted someone with experience in selling Life insurance, but it was not made clear to me that I would be solely selling Life insurance, which is why I left my old job. For those that don’t know selling Life Insurance by itself is a VERY difficult job, especially in this economy in southern Appalachia. The first few weeks I was still training and after that I slowly started producing life policies. I was not allowed to sell Auto or anything else because I just got licensed to sell those products this week.

    I spoke with my manager about the issues I was having and we tried several approaches he thought might remedy the situation, none of which worked, as people simply don’t like sitting around talking about life insurance. I had made several proposals including lead lists, marketing events, and focusing more on Auto and Homeowners and using those appointments as an opportunity to sell life (it creates a discount if you bundle).

    Instead, he asked another manager from another branch to come and “Coach me” which was basically 3 straight hours of being belittled, humiliated, and made fun of. I do have high functioning autism and I was even picked on because of that. When I left the office I was an emotional wreck. I sent my manager a text after I had calmed down and told him that I had felt humiliated and belittled by their actions. He became upset with me that I had sent him a text regarding the matter and we agreed to discuss it further on Monday.

    To get to the point, we decided that it might be best if I either left the company or switch to commission only so I could have the flexibility I needed to accommodate my autism and be a successful sales person. He told me to take the rest of the day off and decide what I wanted to do, and if I decided to quit to return at 4pm and sign a separation notice. I decided to stay on a commission basis and sent him a text telling him I wouldn’t be coming to sign a separation notice. We agreed to meet this morning to decide how to move forward.

    When I went to his office today he said, (and I’m only slightly paraphrasing), “do you want to resign voluntarily or do you want me to fire you?” He said it was because I didn’t come back yesterday afternoon, but he never mentioned that I needed to come back if I wasn’t signing a separation notice.

    I told him I would rather have the termination notice so I could get my unemployment while I find other suitable employment. I was told that I should resign because A) He would “fight tooth and nail” to be sure I didn’t get unemployment, and (B he would only give me good future references if I accepted the resignation instead of the resignation.

    I didn’t know what to do. I asked him if I could step outside and ask my friend who is a lawyer what my best option would be and his response was “No! I’m busy and I don’t have time. You can sign the resignation and keep me as a reference or I’m signing the termination paper right now!” I didn’t even get to write my own resignation statement. I wanted to change the wording to state “My primary reason for leaving is that I do not feel I was given adequate tools to perform my job, my job description was not made clear upon employment, and I was constantly made to feel like I was less valuable to the company that other employees.” The simply added one line that said “I feel like the job was not what I expected.”

    I feel like I was treated unfairly beginning shortly after starting. I was never given the same level of respect as more tenured employees. He took opportunities to humiliate me both in front of my co-workers, as well as in private meetings, he would give vague instructions and become upset when they didn’t align with his expectations, and he wouldn’t even let me write my own letter of resignation. Lastly, and I feel most importantly, he coerced me to sign a letter of resignation instead of a termination slip by threatening to make it harder to get a job elsewhere, and telling me that he would focus all his energy into being sure I didn’t get unemployment.

    I technically DID sign a letter of resignation, that I did not write, but it was either that or be fired. I know it will ultimately be up to the State but does it sound like I might qualify for unemployment considering it was a forced resignation?

  10. what if you were full-time and then was told you enrolled in school but still worked fulltime. however you were later notified your full time status will be reduce to part-time status. Therefore you took on more hours at school. what can be done about unemployment

  11. if you have quite your job because it was moving out of state and they was takeing your raise away are still able to get benefits?

  12. I am a self-employed contractor and regularly use 1099 sub-contractors in Louisiana. I had to stop using a shop hand that was a regular for over two years due to reduction of force. He filed taxes as self-employed. Will he be able to draw unemployment since he paid the self-employment tax?

  13. I quit my job due to my husband getting a great job in another city and I needed to relocate. I was able to find a job in the new location. I was then laid off from the new job. I applied for unemployment and was approved. I have now received a letter requesting more information. The information is in regards to my work at the employer that I quit not the one I was laid off from. Is my unemployment in jeapordy?

  14. My benefits have run out. Is there anyway that I can extend them since I still can not get a job that will support me i.e. housing, food, utilities etc?

  15. My benefits have run out , however I still can not find a job to support myself and have a place to live. Is there anyway to continue the benifits. Jobs for $10.00 an Hour are plentyful, anything else is all but impossible to get.

  16. I work from home in Tennessee for a company site in New Jersey. I lived and worked in NJ for this company for 3 years, then 3 years in TN. Where do I claim my benefits? Also, the parent company or W-2s are from Sterling VA.

    • In response to the question posed by Jennifer S. in Question 15, Jennifer asked “if its possible to receive such a small amount of 80 dollars a week?”

      Yes, from playing around with the “Unemployment Benefit Calculator” at it appears that the minimum is about $30 dollars per week. While Tennessee isn’t the LOWEST paying state when it comes to unemployment, we’re no where near the top. Some of the highest paying states can offer almost $1,000 per week to eligible applicants. While I am a Keynesian, and like the idea of the state giving away money to boost economic growth, the government’s perspective is that they want you to be able to survive but not comfortably so there is an incentive to return to work quickly.

  17. I just got done with the military and i was paying taxes to my home state in MA but i currently live in CA. Can i claim for MA unemployment since i was paying taxes my whole time in the navy?

  18. I received a letter from the Tn Labor and Workforce stating that I would receive another 8 weeks of benefits, ending in June (?the end of my quarterly year, since I’ve been receiving benefits?). The problem is that the last 2 checks I have gotten were for different amounts, both being less than what I normally draw, and now this week, there is no check at all. Why did my benefits suddenly stop when I was already approved for another 8 weeks?

  19. I was an 1099 employee, worked from my home in Maine for a Company out of MD., I was let go so the Owner’s Dad could have a position after he retired. The Co. did not pay into unemployment, I paid State and Federal Taxes and want to know if any of this money I paid into the state of Maine goes to unemployment? Am I eligible to collect? Worked for this company 18 months!

  20. I call MARVIN on wed. which is my day to call. MARVIN responds with your check will be deposited before the end of the next business day which would be thurs. More often then not, the check might go in on fri. if not fri. on mon. It is very frustrating when checks are written because you are told your benefit check will be there the next day. It happened before Christmas too!
    MARVIN seems to be less then truthful.

  21. I was delined benifits for 13 weeks on a job where I was fired, I was cleared of any wrong doing but my ex=job said I broke a policy of theirs so do I get back those 13 weeks I lost, it made my benifits to be ended early?

  22. I have the potential to work a position full time but the duration will only be for two weeks. What will this do to my unemployment status. Will I have to refile after the income for the two weeks has been reported?

  23. I am retired military and hold a full time 40 hour week job. If i am laid off from my job, will i still be entitled to unemployment benefit even though i’m still drawing my retired pay

  24. My initial 26 week unemployment is going to run out in December 15, 2010 in Texas. Is there another extension in which to file after this initial extension?

    Please e-mail me the answer and instructions to do so.

  25. the compancy that i work for, workes 10 hours day 4 to 5 a week my VA Dr. has limitet me to 40 houres aweek 5 -8 hours days, The comancy sayes that i can not com back untill the dr clear me for there schedule ( not going to Happen) can i file for unempolyment benfints

  26. remember when you can only file for six months but you still got money to draw how does that work now that they extened longer can i still draw from it

  27. Is long-term disability considered wages when filing for unemployment? I have been with the same company since Aug. 2007 but went on ST then LTD beginning in Jan. 2008. While I have been released to return to work (no income since Jan. 2010), I have not been able to find another position within the company and my time has run out. Soon (Sept. 2010) I will have an “end date” and will file for unemployment. I understand how base periods work and it seems that my base period will be ending in March 2010. There will be a 2 month period wherein I had no wages. The previous wages in that base period, though, are all from my LTD insurance. Is there any way for me to calculate an approximation of what benefits will be if these wages even will count?? Do those wages count even though they were paid out by an insurance company from my employer?

  28. I have a job offer that starts at the end of summer, its minimum wage and 20 hours or less per week. Will I lose all of my benefits?

    • If your working hours and wage is not satisfied then yes you will not be able to get the benefits…

    • The answer depends on your state of residence, the nature of your illness or injury, and whether you are able to accept work for which you are qualified. If you’re unable to work, you can’t draw unemployment benefits because all states require you be ready, willing and able to accept suitable employment immediately.

      Approximately half of the states allow workers to collect both entitlements at the same time, as long as the person is legitimately eligible under both programs’ guidelines. The other half either prohibit drawing any form of state or federal worker’s compensation at the same time as unemployment, or apply an offset to reduce payments to prevent a windfall.

  29. If a persons hours are cut from 40 hours to 32 hours a week, 4 days instead of 5, are they entitiled to any unemployment compensation?

    • Ofcourse yes if your working hours and the wages earned is eligible as per the rule of your state then you should be eligible…

  30. I am drawing social security now and working full time if my Co. closes at the end of 2010 can I draw unemployment?
    Thank you, Audrey

    • Unemployment insurance benefits are not counted under the Social Security annual earnings test and therefore do not affect your receipt of Social Security benefits. However, the unemployment benefit amount of an individual may be reduced by the receipt of a pension or other retirement income, including Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits.

  31. @Clifford – you will be eligible to receive benefits. Most states send you the payment to the new address, but some make you file in the new state.

  32. If I am receiving unemployment benefits in state A and move to state B and remain unemployed, what is my status re: getting benefits in state B?

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