Thousands of people lose their jobs every day and it is always scary to lose a job in this economy. However, there is a government program that can help you get back on your feet with the help of unemployment insurance.

Unemployment Insurance is a federal program that provides credits to eligible members and offers them a percentage of their previous income when they lose their jobs when it is not their fault.

Each state in the United States has its own set of rules and regulations including eligibility requirements. If you're looking to learn more about unemployment insurance and see if you're eligible, check out this article.

Are You Eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits? Here's What You Need to Know
Image Source: Brookings Institution

Understanding Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance is a program that is actively participated in by both the local state governments and the federal government of the United States.

Are You Eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits? Here's What You Need to Know
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It is a way for the government to provide cash compensation for those who are actively seeking a job, especially for those who are unemployed workers that lost their job not at their own expense.

Each state has its own set of unemployment insurance and has its own rules and regulations, however, the federal government does have specific guidelines that need to be followed. This makes it equitable across all states and ensures that everyone qualified for insurance receives what is meant for them.

Unemployed workers can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits every year including a weekly cash allowance that is equal to a percentage of what the worker previously earns.


How Are the Benefits Calculated?

Different states calculate the benefits differently from the next one. This can be confusing if you have lived in different states and want to avail yourself of unemployment insurance. There is also a question of how long the government should continue to provide you with the benefits.

There are a lot of individuals that continue to be supported by the insurance for up to 26 weeks, and sometimes even longer, but how does the government decide to discontinue the support and how do they gauge it? The amount is calculated by using roughly three months of your highest-earning months that year and taking a percentage out of that to become your weekly cash stipend.

The percentage will depend on the state so it is best that you check out your state's official website for that. Meanwhile, the duration will still depend on the state as they will determine whether you need the stipend or not.


General Eligibility Criteria for UI

There are only two general eligibility criteria for you to get the benefits of unemployment insurance. First, you must meet the state's standard of either earned wages or time worked within your period of living in the state.

Are You Eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits? Here's What You Need to Know
Image Source: The New York State Senate

This means that if the state has a requirement that individuals must have earned $50,000 a year, or have worked no less than a threshold of hours per week for an entire year, they are eligible for the benefits.

Another requirement that an individual must have to get the benefits is that they should be unemployed through no fault of their own. If individuals are terminated unjustly or through a crisis, they can file for a claim and be eligible for unemployment insurance.

It is also important that you must be available and actively seeking work at the time when you want to file for unemployment insurance. This allows the state the assurance that you won't be taking advantage of the weekly cash stipend that they provide.

Educational and Training Programs

Since one of the requirements for getting the benefits of unemployment benefits is that they are actively seeking a job, the government is also offering educational and training programs to unemployed individuals to help them land a job faster.

These programs vary between states and are often given to individuals for free. The programs aim to educate and provide training for different kinds of skills so the individual can have more options for employment.

This makes it a lot easier for them to get a job immediately and prevent any abuse of the system now that they are employed much faster.

How to Apply for the Unemployment Insurance Benefits

It is always important to know your eligibility before you apply for unemployment insurance benefits. You can receive the benefits by filing a claim through the state where you are working in.

Are You Eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits? Here's What You Need to Know
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There are several ways to apply for unemployment insurance benefits and these include filing in person at their local office, calling by telephone, or applying online. The easiest way to apply is by calling your local office as soon as possible after you have become unemployed.

They will provide you with all the necessary steps to complete your application. Be ready to provide complete and correct personal and employment information such as your name, address, and dates of your employment. You can apply online through your state's official website.

Applicants who are approved will then need to attend a meeting with a representative at the state's America's Job Center The representative will provide them with a list of job openings that they can apply to during the course of receiving their benefits.

After Applying for UI Benefits

It will take around two to three weeks after you applied for UI benefits for you to receive your first cash stipend. The benefits will be provided as a check.

You are also required by the state to be actively seeking a job as they are monitoring how often you are looking for one through the jobs that they offer.

To maintain their eligibility for the weekly benefits, the individual must also report all of this information on their weekly unemployment benefits claim to prevent any fraudulent claims. If you fail to provide a weekly claim, your benefits will be immediately suspended.


No one likes to stay unemployed for a long period and thankfully, the state and the entire government understand that it is a very frustrating and frightening experience to be unemployed.

Unemployment insurance benefits relieve these uneasy feelings and can even help you get back up on your feet. If you are eligible for the benefits, go ahead and file a claim today.