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How To File For Unemployment Benefits

Last updated May 9, 2024

Losing your job or having your hours cut can be a stressful experience. However, it's important to know that there are options available to help you through this difficult time. We'll guide you through the process of filing for unemployment benefits to help you make ends meet while you search for your next job.

What Is Unemployment Insurance (UI)?

Unemployment Insurance (or UI) is a fund of money that the federal government and states have to support people if they lose their job due to things like layoffs, business closures, or other circumstances beyond their control. If you have a job, you actually pay a tax that contributes to this fund. So if and when you need to use it, know that this is money that you've already paid into! Each state oversees its unemployment funds, so it's important to make sure you're seeking state-specific information when you file. Eligible workers will receive payments for a specific period of time or until they find a new job.

Who Qualifies For Unemployment Benefits?

Eligibility for unemployment insurance and the amount or length of benefits received are determined by laws in your state. Typically, you must have been employed for at least one year and worked at least 680 hours to be eligible. It's worth checking with your state's unemployment insurance program to see if you qualify and how to apply.

Multiple $1 bills laid out on a surface - How To File For Unemployment Benefits

What Documents do I Need to Apply for Unemployment Benefits?

Here are the common documents and pieces of information you will need to file your unemployment claim:

  1. A recent pay stub.
  2. Your Social Security number.
  3. Your driver's license or government ID.
  4. Your complete mailing address, including your street, city, state, and zip code.
  5. A telephone number where you can be reached.
  6. The full company names and addresses of all employers that you worked for in the last two years, including employers located in another state.

How do I Apply for Unemployment Benefits?

In addition to the documents and pieces of information listed above, there are a few other things you should keep in mind when applying for unemployment benefits.

  1. Be sure to check your state's deadline for filing unemployment claims. Some states have strict deadlines for submitting applications, so it's important to act quickly once you lose your job.
  2. Be prepared to provide detailed information about your previous employment, including the dates of your employment, your job title, and your reason for separation from each employer. It's also important to provide accurate information about your earnings, as this will determine the amount of benefits you may be eligible to receive.
  3. Be aware that your unemployment claim may be subject to review and investigation by your state's unemployment agency. This is a routine process to ensure that benefits are being paid out appropriately, but it can result in delays or denials if there are any discrepancies or issues with your claim.
  4. Be sure to find out what will be required of you while you receive unemployment benefits. Some states may require you to attend trainings and prove that you are actively searching and applying for jobs while you are receiving employment benefits. Make sure to check your state’s policy so you can uphold those requirements!

How to Access the Unemployment Benefits Application

Follow these steps to contact your state's employment department to submit your unemployment benefits application:

  1. Go to
  2. In the search bar, type “unemployment benefits.”
  3. Click on the first link that says “Unemployment Benefits Finder (Local Help).”
  4. Select your state from the drop down menu.
  5. Click the link under the "To file a UI claim online" section to access your state’s unemployment benefits website.

If you have more questions about applying for unemployment benefits, text #Jobs to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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