Where to File Unemployment ? Place of Living or Work?

Updated : June 12th, 2019

Just like most of the developed countries that hand hold its citizens by way of social security benefits for the jobless, the U.S is known to administer an efficient federal-state system that guarantees weekly unemployment benefits for those who’ve lost their job due to involuntary reasons such as layoffs. Foreseen by the U.S Department of Labor and run by each state on its own, the Unemployment Insurance(UI) program hands out up to 26 weeks of monetary compensation on the basis of wages earned in the last 4 to 5 calendar quarters(depending on the state).

The claimant who has lost their job due to no fault of their own is required to initiate the claims process by approaching the Unemployment Office(attached to the department of labor) in their state either by phone or via the internet. The filing procedure is more or less similar in all the states. After scrutiny and approval of your initial claim, continue filing on a weekly basis on designated days to ensure timely credit.


One of the most common questions our Q & A section receives is pertaining to where to file. State where the employment is based or state where the claimant lives. The answer is quite straightforward. One must be filing from the state of employment since the employer pays unemployment taxes into the state’s system where they operate. If you’re someone whose place of work and residence are different, read the following sections to help you understand how it all works.

Base Period

This is perhaps the most comprehensive and commonly used term in the world of Unemployment Compensation. Let’s understand what this means and how it impacts your eligibility to draw benefits.

  • It is 4(earliest) of the last 5 calendar quarters completed of a calendar year. For instance, if you’re applying for UI benefits in Feb 2015, the base period, in this case, will be October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014.
  • Wages earned during this period is considered to ascertain if you qualify and also to determine WBA(Weekly Benefit Amount).
  • Those who do not have the sufficient earnings of worked hours during the base period can use the Alternate Base Period which just takes into account, last four calendar quarters only.

Interstate Claim

This term is used to denote a situation where the claimant has worked in State A through out the base period but has moved to State B to seek further employment or make a living. The claimant can go ahead and file from State A and also fulfill the eligibility criteria laid down in the state. After approval, the claimant can continue filing for benefits from the state of last employment and fulfill the requirements either until the time the benefits exhaust or they find a job.

Combined Wage claim  

This phrase is used to represent a situation where the claimant has worked in more than one state during the base period. He/she can file from any of the states where they worked and initiate a combined wage claim where the credentials are verified by all the states before being approved. Once the WBA and others aspects are determined, the claimant can continue filing for weekly benefits either over the phone or by the internet.

Commuter Claim

Some states encourage jobless workers to apply from their state if the claimant lives around the border and travels to the state of claim during the base period for employment. If the worker is looking forward to seeking jobs in that state, an interstate claim can be filed.

Nearly all states in the U.S provide Unemployment Compensation in cases as described above. Since this program is more or less a state subject, you must understand the nature of benefits before filing. The easiest way to apply and claim UC is the internet. Visit the official website of the unemployment office in your state to file and manage online in a hassle-free manner.

    1. Jose,

      We’re not a scam or a fraud website:) has been around for more than 10 years and we’re one of the leading forums for unemployment insurance and unemployment in general. Our daily visitor and patron base is of considerable size and we truly believe in being a center for jobless workers to access resources and share their queries.

  1. I’m attemptiing to file my first weekly claim since my layoff, however, my PIN# is not correct. what do I do to get my correct PIN# , please?

  2. I have exhausted my unemployment benefits in Texas but my calendar year does not end until September. Do I have to wait until the calendar year is over in Texas, to apply for unemployment benefits in New York in which I have available quarters?

    1. Mattie,

      As much as I am aware, UI benefits are only a one-time cycle. Please call the Claims Center for clarification.

  3. Help ran out of unemployment benefits for the pass 8 years i have worked at Hexion speciality chemical plant in Brady Texas how can i get my benefits extended

    1. Roderick,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

    1. Annette,

      You can visit the official website of the Unemployment Office and ‘login’ to check the claim status. Alternatively, you can also call the Claims Center.

      PS: It should not take 6 weeks to process the initial claim. Please chase at regular intervals.

    1. Jocelyn,

      Unemployment is offered to claimants who’re able and available for work. Please call the Unemployment Office to ascertain if you can apply.

  4. I have been working for the same company for the past 11 years. I started out cleaning apartments, then landscaping and finally Asst. Manager for the past seven years. However, the owner/ manager had us all sign papers claiming we were “Independent Contractors.” I worked Monday thru Friday from 8am – 5pm the entire 11 years. Obviously, in reality, we had Never been “Independent Contractors.”
    Finally, October 2018 we became employee’s. On May 10, 2019 he sold the business which puts us all out of work. I tried filing for unemployment, but, I don’t have enough quarters in. Assuming I’m still out of work, can I wait for the next quarter to end, thus giving me the 2 quarters I need or will it not make a difference.

    1. Lea,

      Why don’t you look at alternate based period? Please use the link below to access the Base Period calculator.

  5. I have been working as an hourly employee for the last 4 months. Currently the board of the nonprofit agency came to me and told me that I had to file a 1099 or go to part time or find a new job. I have a scheduled time that I report to work. What are the laws here in Florida about who can receive a 1099

  6. I am unemployed and currently going to a community college. How can I apply for federal assistance?

    1. Carol,

      If you’re able and available for full-time employment, you can directly go to the website of the Unemployment Office and apply.

  7. I have worked in AZ since March 2016. However, I moved lived and worked for my employer in CA since 08/02/1982. Can I apply for Cali unemployment benefits?

    1. Robert,

      You should be applying from the state where your employment was based. Employers generally remit unemployment taxes to the state where the employee is based.

      1. How long does it take Washington state unemployment to deposit your back pay after they receive the determination letter from OAH stating I won my appeal?

  8. I have been trying for over a month to file and I still do not seem to be able to do it, but I finally got to the correct place, I think.

  9. Cumberland NJ Unemployment Center kept me on hold for 2 hours; I finally had someone answer my call, after providing my information and question regarding the status of my NJ Unemployment Claim the representative disconnected my call.

  10. Excellent list of things to help execute better. Even taking 3 or 4 of these that one does not currently utilize could help immensely.

    1. How did you calculate the total weekly Illinois benefit of $1495? Also, why isn’t Washington and Minnesota listed in your top 5 states with the highest paid unemployment insurance compensation?

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