Most workers can apply for unemployment insurance payments if they lose their job through no fault of their own. The government requires businesses with a certain number of full-time employees to pay an unemployment insurance tax. These covered workers can file an unemployment application to request weekly or bi-weekly payments.
Laid-off workers wondering how to get unemployment insurance can look into their state’s program. Each state has slightly different processes, but they usually require beneficiaries to continue to prove eligibility.
Before learning how to apply for unemployment insurance (UI), former workers can check if they qualify for payments. While UI is a federal and state program, not all employers need to pay unemployment taxes, making their employees ineligible for benefits.
Likewise, self-employed and contract workers typically do not qualify for benefits since they do not have an employer that pays the tax. However, the government changed regulations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and job losses.
States have additional work and wage requirements. Former employees covered by the UI program must have worked and earned enough in their base period to qualify for at least the minimum payment.
This amount varies by state, so in Florida, for example, most workers should have earned at least $3,400. This means that a worker employed for a couple of days may not qualify for benefits.
A base period is typically the first four of the last five complete calendar quarters before the first qualifying for benefits. However, some states may use different formulas or have alternative formulas for applicants who worked fewer than 18 months.
The most important factor when determining eligibility is how the applicant lost employment. Individuals must have lost their job through no fault of their own. Applicants may not qualify if any of the following are true about their job separation:
• Fired for misconduct
• Voluntarily quitting
• Not accepting valid employment offers
Examples of separation reasons that are usually valid include being laid off, placed on furlough, and company shuts down. Workers who experienced a reduction of hours may also qualify for unemployment benefits.
Some states require individuals to register for work on employment websites. Similarly, the office may require at least three contacts of employers of applied jobs. Reporting prospective employer contacts is often part of the weekly recertification process.
The application and recertification claims are very similar, as beneficiaries must confirm they still qualify for benefits. Learn more about the unemployment application process next.