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How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

Jacky Hayward | AllHealthcare

If you’ve been laid off, the first thing you’re likely to stress about is how you’re going to replace your income. The government established Unemployment Insurance (UI) to provide unemployment benefits to workers who’ve been laid off due to factors outside their control. These benefits aim to financially assist them while they’re looking for employment. UI is a joint federal-state program with money coming from the federal and state governments, but the rules determining eligibility and the benefits available vary depending on where you live. Follow this guide and demystify the unemployment benefits application process.

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What to Expect when Applying for Unemployment Insurance

To apply for unemployment insurance, you must first contact your state’s unemployment agency. This state-by-state list of unemployment websites will be a good place to find out more about your state’s agency. With the increase in layoffs, there has also been an increased number of individuals requesting unemployment insurance. Many unemployment offices are holding longer hours but there is still a backlog. In this manner, if your state unemployment agency allows you to, applying online will likely expedite the application process.

Once you have applied for unemployment insurance, most states will verify your unemployment in some way; this may mean a short phone interview, an in person interview with an unemployment officer, or further verification via USPS mail. After your unemployment department has received your claim and all necessary verification, they will calculate your unemployment benefits on your past salary, usually using your last year and a half of salaried time. Your UI benefits will be proportional to your past salary, but will often cap out at a certain point, depending, again, on your state. In addition, it is likely it will take a few weeks for you to receive your first unemployment check after your local agency has received all the necessary materials.

What to Keep in Mind Once you Have Applied

Once you start receiving checks, each week or every other week you will have to complete questionnaire to prove that you are in fact searching for a job; after all, unemployment insurance is intended to assist you in your job search

In addition, unemployment benefits are taxable. You can elect to have a specified amount withheld each check, but you will be responsible to pay taxes on the income earned come the next tax year, so plan appropriately!

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