The unemployment office may not seem like the most appealing place to be after you just lost your job. You are probably feeling sad, upset or even worried as you think about how you are going to make your rent payment this month and how you will keep from falling behind on your bills. If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. 

However, it is important that you start taking steps to get you back on your feet. One way you can do this is by applying for unemployment insurance (UI). Making unemployment claims for benefits are available to you if you are a worker who is out of work for reasons you cannot control.  

Before you decide to apply for unemployment, make sure you understand what you need to qualify for benefits and how you can collect a check until you find a new work opportunity. If you qualify for benefits, you can begin receiving support that can help you and your family while you look for a new job.

What is the unemployment office? 

The unemployment office distributes UI funds. UI, which is also known as unemployment compensation (UC), consists of the checks you receive each week you are out of work. UI offices are managed by individual states. This means that different parts of the country have different rules you need to follow. Also, states are responsible for determining how long you can receive UC benefits. 

Some states allow you to file unemployment claims for a maximum of 26 weeks while some states only allow three months’ worth of benefits. Make sure you know your state’s rules and have a plan for becoming reemployed. Otherwise, you might run out of benefits before you can support yourself financially again. 

Can I submit unemployment claims if I was fired?

When you are learning how to apply for unemployment, it is important that you understand whether you qualify for benefits. If you were recently fired from your job, you may wonder if you even qualify for UC. This depends on why you were fired. 

In order to collect an unemployment check, you must not be the reason for your own job loss. In other words, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. For example, if you were fired because you were not the best fit for the job, you may be eligible for benefits. However, if you were fired because you regularly did not follow office rules, you might not qualify.

Beyond being fired, there are other reasons why you could be out of a job. The reason for your job loss is one of the main factors used to determine if you qualify for benefits through the unemployment office, so keep the following situations in mind: 

 

  • You were laid off – If you were laid off because your company was downsizing, you will probably be able to collect UI benefits if you meet the other criteria. 
  • You quit – If you are wondering, “Can you collect unemployment if you quit?” the answer is that it depends. The reason why you quit  determines if are eligible for benefits. 
  • You do not have transportation to work – If you quit your job because you did not have reliable transportation, you probably will not be able to receive UC. 
  • You need to stay home and take care of loved ones – If you need to stay home and take care of a sick relative, you may be able to receive benefits. 

 

What other factors determine if I can collect on my unemployment claims?

Beyond the reason for your job loss, the unemployment office looks into other factors to determine if you are eligible for benefits. Additional factors that are used to determine your UI eligibility include: 

 

  • Your readiness to start working immediately. 
  • If you are physically able to work right now.
  • If you are actively searching for job openings.

 

If you meet these requirements, you may be able to receive UI. However, keep in mind that you will need to prove your eligibility by submitting documentation on a regular basis. 

How do I apply for unemployment?

Most people choose to apply for unemployment online. However, you may also be able to apply at an unemployment office or by phone. This depends on the state you are applying in. Before you get ready to submit your application, make sure you have the following items with you to complete your request: 

  • Your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Your driver’s license or non-driver ID card 
  • Your contact information
  • Information relating to any jobs you had in the last 18 months (employers’ names and addresses, contact information)
  • If you worked with multiple employers in the past 18 months, the dates you worked at those locations and explanations as to why you are no longer with those companies

These requirements may change from one unemployment office to another. To avoid delays in your processing time, make sure you know what your specific UI office requires of you before you apply. 

How do I submit my unemployment weekly claim?

Before you can receive an unemployment check, you must file your weekly claim. Most often, you will do this online. However, your state may give you the option to submit your claim by phone.

Regardless of the method you use, there is some important information you need to include when you submit. This relates to: 

  • Any potential employers you contacted during the week. 
  • The effort you put toward finding a new job in the week you are filing a claim for. 
  • If you recently turned down any job offers. 
  • If you are still willing and able to work. 

You will usually be given an assigned date and time for when you need to file your unemployment claim each week. Make sure you do not file late or you risk not being able to receive your benefits on time. 

If I’m denied benefits, can I file an unemployment appeal?

You can submit an unemployment appeal if you are denied benefits. In fact, your state should have different levels of appeals you can submit. You will usually have a deadline by when you need to file your request. 

Furthermore, you will need to provide additional information that proves you deserve benefits. Keep in mind that your former employer also has the opportunity to file an appeal if he or she disagrees with the determination from the unemployment office.