The Social Security Act of 1935 initiated the unemployment insurance system. Though there are federal guidelines, each state sets its own regulations regarding unemployment and collecting unemployment benefits.
Am I Eligible for Unemployment?
Eligibility for unemployment benefits differs by state, however, most follow the same set of guidelines. You must meet a certain number of weeks worked and certain pay grades to be qualified for unemployment compensation.
Additionally, most states require that the cause for unemployment be no fault of yours and cannot be because of being fired for cause. For example, if you fail a drug test or steal from your employer and are fired, you will most likely be turned down for unemployment benefits.
How do I start receiving unemployment checks?
Typically, you must visit your local employment office to begin receiving unemployment benefits. Most states have some of the forms online – some even allow you to fill out the whole process online and then visit your local employment office to finish the process. Assuming you go online, the system will take you through a series of questions about when you last worked, for whom, why you are no longer there, etc. It will then explain that you have to check in every month or three weeks to update your status. They’ll want to know if you’ve been interviewing.
If you are offered a job and are eligible to take it, you often will be required to accept the job or be forced off of unemployment benefits.
The amount of money you are entitled to per month depends on your salary at the last job you had (because that is who you are drawing unemployment from). Be sure to keep your records and status as up to date as you can, because it is much easier to do this, than to fix the mess if your record gets out of line.