Each state has an unemployment application process, and workers must apply for benefits from the state where they earned money. For instance, an employee may live in Connecticut but work for a company in New York. However, self-employed and contractors should file unemployment claim documents to the state office where they reside.
Residents can apply for unemployment online, by mail, over the phone, or in person, depending on the state. More and more areas are setting up online systems, and workers should check with their state’s labor department’s website.
If residents can file for unemployment online, applicants should get information and documentation ready before starting the application. Most UI applications require the following details:
- The applicant’s Social Security number
- Their driver’s license number or state ID
- Recent pay stubs or other wage documents, such as a W-2
- Names of all employers in the base period
- Employers’ contact information, like addresses and phone numbers
- The date they started the job
- The date they were separated from your job
- The reason for separating from employment
- Total earnings (before taxes)
Applicants may furnish a layoff notice or letter of termination if available. It can take weeks for states to process unemployment claims. Some offices have a mandatory waiting week when applicants cannot collect payment.
The state should send a notification stating eligibility and unemployment insurance awards. The statement should declare the frequency and amount as well as an expiration date. The UI payment does not replace an employee’s salary, and it is often a fraction of their typical paycheck.
For example, a worker could qualify for $12,000 of unemployment insurance annually, and the state could set a 26-week expiration. The worker may receive a weekly check for $230.77 or a bi-weekly check for $451.54.
Workers can only collect payments for as long as they qualify. Even if the state awards $12,000 a year, the worker will stop receiving payments when they no longer qualify. If the worker collected $1,354 before getting a new job, the state keeps the remaining $8,646 if they become unemployed again in the benefit year.
Residents can submit an appeal if their UI application was denied or their benefits were prematurely terminated due to eligibility. Each state has an appeal process, but the process typically requires a written notification sent to the state’s court or appeal board.
UI beneficiaries will need to recertify to continue to receive payments. The recertifications confirm that the individual still meets the state’s requirements. If a recipient obtains part-time or temporary work, it can also alter the payment amount. Find out more about the recertification process next.