How Many Times Can I Collect Unemployment?

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Unemployment insurance exists to provide cash assistance to those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. While there are limitations on payment amounts and duration of benefits, a qualified worker can apply for unemployment as often as necessary.

State Rules

The unemployment program is federal, but administered by the individual states. Each state sets its own guidelines and rules, and you must apply for unemployment compensation in your own state. Guidelines vary as to the length of time you can receive unemployment, the amount of money that you'll get, how long you must work, and how much money you must make to be eligible for benefits. Your state’s unemployment services department evaluates your claim to determine your qualifications and benefit amount.

Claim Limitations

There is no limit on the number of unemployment insurance claims you can file in your lifetime. The state reviews each claim on its own merits. Reviews determine whether you worked for an employer who paid into the unemployment insurance system, and whether you remained employed for the required time (typically two quarters of the year, but state laws vary). You may be eligible for benefits if you meet your state's criteria.

Qualifying for Unemployment Insurance

In addition to meeting length-of-work requirements, you must show that your jobs loss is not your fault. Each state has its own guidelines to determine responsibility for a termination. In most cases, your employer has the right to object to your claim if you quit voluntarily and without cause, or if you lost your job due to misconduct.

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

Most states let you apply for unemployment online. If you live in one of these states, you can enter your information onto the web-based application form. You'll probably need a copy of your last pay stub, the names of your employers over the last year or two, and your Social Security number. In some cases, particularly if you have worked in different states, you may have to file for unemployment over the phone or by visiting a local office.

Read More: How to File for Unemployment Benefits Extension


About the Author

Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.