When Should I File For Unemployment?
You should file as soon as possible because it could take up to three weeks to begin receiving payments. The longer you take filing, the longer it will take to receive your first unemployment check.
How To Apply
You can apply online, by mail or by phone. You should gather the necessary information, and get in contact with your state unemployment office to determine the best way to open a claim. Some states require a one week waiting period before receiving payments.
Information You Will Need:
- Social Security Number
- Alien Registration Card if you aren't a U.S. Citizen
- Mailing Address
- Phone Number
- Names, contact info, and dates of employment for all employers for last two years.
Go to your state's unemployment site. There you can apply online (the quickest and easiest way), or by phone, mail, or in-person. The table below provides direct links to each state's unemployment claims site.
What Happens After I File?
You state will go through your application to determine your eligibility. Some states such as Oregon, Montana, Texas and Idaho have a mandatory "Waiting Week". This means you will have to wait for one week after your application is approved. You will then have to set up a means to receive your weekly benefits. Every state provides flexible options to better suit your needs. You can receive your benefits via direct deposit, in some states by check, or you can be issued a debit card. Most states provide this method of payment.
Your state unemployment office can help you with your job search. Many offer free services such as career counseling, training, job listings, and help with your resume. Be sure to use these resources to their fullest.
File Your Weekly Claim
Once you are approved, you will have to refile every week online, by phone or by mail. Your state has its own form that you will use. This is a way for your state to stay up-to-date on your current status and for you to document your search for employment. You must file weekly claims in order to maintain eligibility. You will have to document your job search. If you don't file on time, and with honest information, your claims could be denied.
How To Appeal A Denied Claim
If your state denies your claim for unemployment benefits, or if your employer denies or contests your claim, you can appeal the denial. You state will have instructions on their website for appealing a claim. You should be able to file online, by mail, in person, or on the phone.
Also, some states give you a limited amount of time to appeal your unemployment claim denial. Begin your appeal as soon as possible because if that time runs out, your appeal will be denied.
Refer to your state's guidelines on what documentation you need to file an appeal.
Bring Two Copies of the Following Supporting Documentation (if available):
- Time Sheets
- Medical Records
- Your Personal File
Bring anything that will support your case. Your chances of success increase the more information you provide.
Also, if you have witnesses who have personal knowledge of the reasons why you were fired, bring them if you can. They can be very effective.
How To Refile Once Benefits Period Ends
Many states currently do not allow unemployment extensions. However, there are exceptions. If you are approved, you should receive the same amount that you had before, but this still varies by state.
How To Cancel Unemployment Benefits
If you've found a new job or other means of supporting yourself, cancelling is pretty simple. If you are newly employed, after your first week of full-time work, stop requesting payments. Once you've returned to full time work, you're ineligible to receive unemployment benefits going forward. Again, this varies by state.