Unemployment benefits aim to provide basic income to those who recently out of work through no fault of their own. To get your benefits started, it is advisable to contact your state unemployment office as soon as you lose your job. Eligibility determination may take several weeks. If the state decides you should receive benefits, the start date for those benefits will allow for at least one income-free week.
Regardless of the day your last day on the job fell on, in most states, benefits will not start until another full work week passes. For example, if you lose your job on Monday, March 1 and file for benefits on Tuesday, March 2, the entire week of March 8 through 12 will be your waiting week or lag week. You will not receive any benefits during this time. Your benefits will start the following full week, which is the week of March 15.
If you file for unemployment benefits on Tuesday, March 2, you may not receive a determination from your state agency for several weeks. You may not hear anything until sometime in April. However, if the state deems you eligible, the benefit start date will still be March 15. The agency will provide you with weekly claim forms to accommodate the period from March 15 to the date you receive your eligibility notification.
If your employer lays you off on Monday, March 1, but you do not inform the state agency until Thursday, April 1, you will most likely lose any March benefits you may have been eligible for. State agencies rarely allow for back benefits when you fail to file your unemployment application in a timely matter. If you want to collect benefits, you need to inform the agency right away. In this case, your lag week will be the week of April 5 and your benefits start date will be April 12.
Once you start receiving benefits and they are interrupted due to temporary work, for example, benefits will restart the week following the last day of work. For example, you may get a temporary job where the pay exceeds your weekly benefit. If you start on Monday, March 22 and the job ends Friday, March 26, your full benefits will restart as of Monday, March 29. Once again you must let the state agency know as soon as the temporary job ends.
D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.