Whether you quit your job, got fired or were laid-off, it doesn't lessen the blow of being unemployed, for you are now without a paycheck. If you don't have another job lined up or a way to generate any income, you will fall behind on your bills, which can leave you homeless. For this reason, unemployment is a scary situation, but luckily, there are state unemployment benefits. However, to collect unemployment, you must qualify for it.
To be eligible for unemployment you must have been terminated from your job due to no fault of your own. For example, if you were fired for bad behavior, you cannot claim unemployment. Additionally, you must be fully or partially unemployed, be actively seeking employment and be available to work when the opportunity arises. You must have earned enough wages during a specific period of your employment, must continuously meet eligibility requirements upon each week's claimed benefits, and be physically capable of working.
The required documents to file a claim will depend on your resident state. Some states allow you to file a claim over the phone or the Internet while others require you to visit in person. See Resources for a list of states' department of labor office so you can learn more. Typically, you need to have the following handy: your Social Security number, mailing address, prior employer's information, how long you were employed and how much you earned, and your last two years' job history information. You can claim standard unemployment benefits, however, if you were a government employee or an ex-service member, you may qualify for specific unemployment benefits (see Resources for the U.S. Department of Labor's website to learn more about these benefits).
Unemployment benefits does not last for a lifetime. There is a cap on how much you can receive and for how long. Generally, you must wait at least one to three weeks after filing your claim before you can start receiving benefits. Depending on your state's unemployment rate and system, you may have to wait longer and you may have to file for your benefits weekly or every two weeks to continue receiving compensation. Unemployment tier 1 benefits typically last for 13 weeks but you may file for an extension which will grant you an additional seven weeks. Tier 2 benefits are offered in states with an unemployment of 6 percent or more. In this case, an additional 13 weeks can be granted.
Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.