Questions About Collecting Unemployment Benefits

You've lost your job, you can't find a new one, and you desperately need some cash. Unemployment insurance should be one answer; after all, some of your taxes went toward the state's unemployment fund the whole time you worked. However, this is not a guarantee. Few states will grant you unemployment benefits unless you have a minimum amount of insured wages and a good excuse for being out of work.

Can Contract Temporary Workers Collect Unemployment Insurance?

It depends. If your state classifies you as an independent contractor, you can't collect unemployment. However, if your boss withholds income tax from your wages and pays unemployment insurance taxes, you are an employee and may be able to collect. You must meet all of your state's guidelines to qualify, and some states may not approve your claim if you're unemployed because your contract expired.

Can a Person Who Quit to Care for a Child Still Collect Unemployment Insurance?

You may be able to collect unemployment if you quit to take care of your kids, but only if you tried to make it work. According to NOLO, some states will approve claims when a family emergency, such as lack of childcare, causes unemployment. However, most states expect, and may even demand, that quitting the job was the only choice you had. The state will want to see evidence from your boss that she couldn't give you a new schedule, or proof your search for alternative childcare turned up nothing. You'll have show you did everything you could to keep the job before you get the benefit.

How Long Do You Have to Work for an Employer to Be Able to Collect Unemployment Benefits?

All states have their own rules, but most approve claims if you earned a minimum amount of wages during the first four of the last five quarters before you lost your job. The exact amount you need to earn varies, and it doesn't matter if you worked for one or 20 employers in that time frame. The state is only interested in what you earned, not who gave it to you. The wages only count toward your total if the employer paid unemployment insurance taxes on them.

Can You Claim Someone as a Dependent on Your Taxes if They Are Collecting Unemployment?

The Internal Revenue Service considers unemployment income the same as regular wages. If a child counts as a dependent under IRS rules, and doesn't earn enough unemployment to cover more than half of his living expenses, she can still be claimed on the parent's tax return. Other relatives count as dependents only if their gross income, including unemployment, is less than $3,700 for the year.

How Long Is Someone Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

The federal government sometimes offers benefit extensions when the country's unemployment rate is high. Extensions aside, most states cap unemployment at 26 weeks. As of 2012, six, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, Missouri and Michigan, didn't agree. Benefit availability in these states ranges from 20 to 25 weeks.

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