Losing your job can be stressful., but the federal government provides a safety net for unemployed workers by paying unemployment benefits through the states. Your unemployment benefits are a fraction of what you regularly earn but the benefit is better than receiving nothing. To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have worked consistently for at least one year and meet other eligibility requirements.
To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be totally or partially unemployed. You must also have an approved job separation, meaning you were laid off because of lack of work or there was a forced work reduction. To maintain your benefits you must be actively looking for work and be available to work. You must also file for weekly benefits on a timely basis. If you are uncertain whether you qualify for benefits, your best course of action is filing a claim and awaiting a decision by the unemployment benefits agency in your state.
Length of Employment
No matter what the reason for losing your job, you must meet the length of employment requirement. The number of hours you work during your base period determines whether you worked long enough to receive benefits. The base period or base year is the first four consecutive quarters out of the last five calendar quarters.
If you quit your job or were fired for just cause you are unlikely to receive benefits. If you quit your job for good reason such as intolerable work conditions, you could still qualify for benefits. You could still qualify for benefits if you were fired in certain instances. For example, if the job let you go because you were a poor fit for the position, you lacked the necessary skills or failed to perform up to expectations, you still qualify for unemployment compensation. However, failing a drug test, committing a criminal act on the job or willfully violating safety rules disqualifies you from receiving benefits.
It is not uncommon for your employer to dispute your unemployment benefits claim, particularly if you were fired or quit. In such a case, it boils down to your word against your employer's, which could delay your benefits until the matter settles. An Administrative Law Judge hears arguments from both sides in an informal trial. If you miss your hearing date, the judge will hold the trial without you and decide the merits of the case. If you quit for good reason, present your case to the hearing officer. If you lose, you have a right to an appeal.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images