Unemployment Benefits – What Are They And How To Get Them

Unemployment Benefits – What Are They And How To Get Them

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Besides hitting the healthcare sectors and disturbing our everyday lives, the COVID-19 pandemic has also shattered the economy. Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs in the past several months, and more employment cuts are coming our way. Even without a worldwide pandemic, however, people constantly lose their positions for various reasons.

This is when unemployment benefits come into the picture. Unemployment insurance is a national program that helps Americans survive while in between jobs. If you are one of those people, scroll down to learn all about these benefits and how to get them.

You Lost Your Job. Now What?

Have you been affected by the recent coronavirus pandemic? Were you laid off from work, and now you’re finding it hard to navigate through most of your days? A few steps can help you cope with the situation and overcome the uncertainty much faster. Follow the approach below:

  • Tell your closest ones. Sharing your hardships with your spouse or closest friends will ease the pain and frustration. Count on their support for the upcoming period and always talk openly. You may even want to discuss a money-making and saving strategy for couples to navigate the situation.
  • File for unemployment benefits and cut unnecessary spending. Right after the layoff, apply for any financial assistance you’re entitled to, and investigate your health insurance options. Have a detailed budget for the forthcoming period and stick to it.
  • Create a schedule and a list. Make a daily plan with specific actions like networking events, online learning, or skill-building. Then, keep a list of people you want to contact as well as potential employers.
  • Reach out to a vast network of people. Today, virtual networking is the key to finding a job on a short note. Ensure you’re present and getting noticed on LinkedIn and social media. Don’t fear to reach out to people you don’t know either.
  • Learn some new skills. Now that you have plenty of time at disposal use it to gain highly sought skills in the job market. Up-to-date skills such as technical and financial knowledge will help you find a new job faster. You’ll also have a topic to elaborate on when employers ask about your latest endeavors during interviews.
  • Use our money-saving tips. Our website has lots of useful advice on saving money. We offer help to those who can’t pay their bills or people who need help paying their rent. These tips can give you ideas on how to cut down spending and boost income fast.

What Is Unemployment?

Losing your job out of a sudden and being jobless for a prolonged time can happen to anyone. Hence, there is no need to be ashamed as thousands of Americans share the same destiny with you at the moment. Many sectors suffered terrible consequences as a result of the pandemic, and that led to numerous redundancies.

Being jobless means you have no regular job and, therefore, no income source to make ends meet. The general definition stipulates that you should be available for work and actively looking for another job arrangement for a month. Actively seeking refers to filling out applications, sending resumes, and responding to job ads. You may also contact employers, agencies, relatives, friends, and companies about open job posts.

Note that as an active job seeker, you must be available to start work immediately. Being proactive and persistent in this challenging period will always drive you forward towards new achievements. Before anything, have a clear vision of your next steps, and don’t let the current situation disappoint you. You never know, maybe this is your perfect chance to climb up the career ladder.

What Is Unemployment Insurance And Why Do You Need It?

Unemployment insurance or benefits is a state program intended to financially help people who lost their jobs. However, not every unemployed person is eligible to apply, so potential beneficiaries should check this first.

Each state is independent in its work while running the program, but the US Department of Labor monitors the whole system. States are also in charge of paying for the benefits granted to workers. The Federal Government, on the other hand, covers administrative taxes.

Note that the usual length of state benefits for unemployment stretches up to six months. In the case of major economic downturns, the timeframe can extend. Still, the number of weeks you’ll get the benefit depends on the state of residence.

Moving on, you may consider applying for state help due to several reasons. First, unemployment benefits will help you struggle with living expenses as it provides supplementary income. Second, you might receive retaining opportunities along with financial support. Last, the support you get while you’re seeking a new job can be soothing for uneased workers.

unemployed scaled
Photo by Anna Tarazevich

How To File For Unemployment Benefits

There are several detailed steps that you must follow to apply successfully. First and foremost, check whether you qualify by visiting the Department of Labor’s website for Unemployment Benefits. Then, select your place of residence by using the drop-down menu or the displayed map. There, you’ll find all the requirements for unemployment assistance.

Once you’ve confirmed that you’re eligible to apply, proceed to the application process. Filing a claim can go through online or in-person, depending on your preference. Ensure you’ve gathered all necessary documents before filing to spare yourself the trouble of prolonging the processing time.

You’ll need an SSN, ID card number, mailing address, phone number, and a list of employers to get considered. On average, it can take a couple of weeks to receive the first direct deposit or benefits check. If approved, you’ll get notified of the granted amount and what further steps to take. An ultimate piece of advice is always to report honestly and read feedback information in detail.

Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

Though you might have recently lost your job, receiving the unemployment benefit isn’t guaranteed. Meaning, you must meet specific criteria and apply for the service to get considered. Take into account the following requirements to increase your chances of approval:

  • You lost your job, but it wasn’t your fault. The jobless person must have suffered unemployment due to external factors such as a furlough or a layoff. In a word, the most plausible reason for receiving benefits is the lack of available work.
  • You must have the ability to work, be available to start working again, and actively look for a new job.
  • To have worked a specific period or to have earned the determined threshold of wages. Such a requirement varies across states, but a year is an average period for eligibility. So, if you have had long-term employment, there’s no need to worry over this criterion.

Bear in mind that states differ in the way they grade these general criteria. The variations mainly refer to the base period of unemployment to determine the applicant’s eligibility for the benefits. Also, part-time workers get excluded from the program in some states unless they are seeking full-time employment.

Disqualification From Collecting Benefits

Remember that not everyone qualifies for employment benefits by default. There are several situations when you won’t be eligible to receive any compensation from the state. The following are the most common reasons for disqualification:

  • Quit without a good cause
  • Resignation due to illness
  • Fired for misconduct
  • Self-employment
  • Enrolment at school
  • Part of a labor dispute
  • Quit to get married
  • Harassment
  • Many unexcused absences

Unemployment Benefits During COVID-19

If the Covid-19 pandemic has badly affected your financial situation, you will likely qualify for unemployment benefits. Such aid got facilitated by enacting the CARES Act in March 2020. The CARES Act provides expanded unemployment insurance for struggling US residents who got laid-off during the corona crisis. The relief reaches independent contractors and other employees not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits aren’t to whether you received the coronavirus stimulus check or not.

Furthermore, the Department of Labor gives states the freedom to adopt laws and provide COVID-19 unemployment benefits when:

  • Employers cease operations due to COVID-19 temporarily, and this prevents employees from coming to work;
  • Workers leave employment as a result of an exposure risk or to take care of a family member;
  • An employee is in quarantine but should return to work after such a period is over.

As a result of this flexibility granted by the Government, states have introduced expanded benefits. For instance, California doesn’t require temporarily dismissed employees due to COVID-19 to seek jobs actively. All recipients of the CARES financial help receive a supplemental weekly benefit to better tackle the crisis.

man holding head scaled
Photo by Nathan Cowley

What To Do During Unemployment

After accepting the new reality, the best way to get back on track is to join a temp agency. Finding a temporary job will help you bridge the gap between jobs. An even better alternative, bearing in mind the current circumstances, is to engage in online work. Consider micro job online sites that can help you earn decent money legally and quickly.

Think about selling possessions that you don’t use or crafts you’re keen on making. Improve your soft and hard skills by enrolling at numerous free online courses at sites like Coursera and Udemy. Even volunteering can help you circumvent negative thoughts and upgrade job-related abilities.

Moreover, do things you always wanted to, but you never had the time to engage in more seriously. Spend more time outdoors with close friends and family. This way, you’ll take care of your emotional and mental health and come back on the job market feeling confident and refreshed.

Things To Keep In Mind While Unemployed

Even if you receive some monetary assistance, that won’t suffice for a decent life. To end your worries, you need to keep other things in mind, too.

  • Unemployment insurance has a limited timeframe. Each state has specified a period for which unemployed people can receive monetary help. Make sure you’re aware of this period and adjust your job plans accordingly. Set goals on how many jobs you’ll apply for each week and stay true to your objectives.
  • Unemployment benefits can’t cover all living costs. Such services aim to help troubled workers who suddenly lost their jobs overcome a short period of no income. You can settle some minor expenses, but not all your needs for the month as a job can. Consider cutting down on spending, canceling subscriptions, eating in, and buying on sale. Also, engage in a gig to help you stay on the positive side of the balance.
  • Free yourself from the guilt. Don’t let anger, anxiety, or sadness blur your vision for the future. Many people are in a similar situation to yours, so use this opportunity to boost your self-confidence and realize your career goals.

Final Word

Regardless of your achievements and experience, the times of today are challenging. Apart from being skillful and knowledgeable, many people get dismissed for various reasons, including the recent pandemic.

Hence, unemployment insurance keeps providing financial support against revenue shortages due to temporary job loss. Among others, the CARES Act is an excellent measure for workers hit by the COVID-19 financial turmoil. Such benefits also serve as a stabilizer for the economy by leveraging the purchasing power during economic downturns.

Have you recently applied for unemployment benefits? Share your experience with us in the comment box below and register for our newsletter.


What will happen if there are problems making unemployment benefits deposits to my account?

On some occasions, there can be an issue with your direct deposit account and benefit due to multiple reasons. As a result, payments may temporarily stop until the matter gets resolved. The best approach if you haven’t received the financial aid is to check your online UI account. If the payment gets processed, but no money shows up in your bank account, contact the bank customer support. In case the bank has no record of your deposit, call a UI Office immediately.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I go to school full-time?

Under the CARES Act, even college students are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Still, they have to prove that they had specific paid work last year to support their college studies. Conversely, going back to school after job loss may disqualify you from state payments. The rationale behind this is that you’re supposed to actively look for a job and not invest in refreshing your skills. In some cases, beneficiaries who can provide evidence that the lectures don’t interfere with their job hunt may keep receiving benefits.

Can I receive unemployment benefits if I become disabled while I’m unemployed?

To receive the Social Security disability benefits, you must make a case based on a medically disabling condition. Meaning, you can’t attest to the unemployment agency that you’re fit to take on full-time employment at any time. Clearly, both claims are conflicting, and you might face legal trouble if you try to hide facts. Gaining the SSI payment will most likely lead to losing the unemployment financial support. Also, note that SSI can get reduced if you receive other income at the same time.

Can I receive unemployment benefits if I have to care for a family member?

Under the COVID-19 package, you can be eligible for expanded unemployment insurance. So, if you’re taking care of a family member affected by the coronavirus and can’t work, you qualify for the benefit. Moreover, payments stretch even if you’re caring for a quarantined family member. Last, check whether you are eligible if your family responsibilities arise due to a government directive.


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    40 thoughts on “Unemployment Benefits – What Are They And How To Get Them

    1. Marcia says:

      Being unemployed can be very stressful situation. And the pandemic makes it worse. There are lack of jobs and it is very difficult to find a new job.

    2. Melek says:

      It is very unclear how can you gain unemployed benefits. I was rejected and I don’t know even why. That makes me annoyed and stressful.

    3. Garcia D says:

      I was in a situation to lose the job because of COVID 19. I am receiving unemployed benefits for 6 months, but that is far away of that to cover my living expenses. I had to take some part-time jobs and even then it is very difficult to get through this situation. I can not apply for jobs because I am busy earning and the market is closed for job positions now.

    4. Marchelo says:

      My experience that in this crazy time it is the best to have a job where you can work from home. Unemployment benefits are ok to get you through but it is necessary to have some other income so you can cope with the expenses.

    5. Arnela says:

      You have to actively looking for a new job in order to be eligible to get these unemployed benefits. And to prepare a bunch of documents to prove that you are eligible.

    6. Calle says:

      Applying for unemployment benefits can be very stressful too. All of the documents to be prepared, going there to ask and things like that can be very exhausting

    7. Miroslav Dan says:

      I think being jobless in this situation can be annoying. You need some time to come up with a solution and to get over the fact that you were laid off.

    8. Sandy Rose says:

      At the moment I am working but it is nice to know what are you eligible to if you become jobless. It happens all the time, many of my friends are jobless at the moment and the situation is not great.

    9. Carmela says:

      It was very stressful for me when I was laid off work in March. Luckily with some help from a friend of mine I found a job in a month time. I was preparing the documents for some unemployed benefits but I did not file them as it was not necessary.

    10. Berlindo says:

      Employment benefits and the Cares act are something that come very useful in this situation. When losing a job is everyday reality.

    11. Carla S says:

      Searching the internet I found this website. Thank you Promoney, very useful article. I was thinking where to start to apply for filing for unemployed benefits.

    12. Ceca R says:

      The main thing is to keep calm when you stay out of work. It knows to be very depressive and harm mental health. Turning to going out with friends or finding a new hobby can help.

    13. Perlito says:

      I came to this situation a couple of months ago. Like half of the Americans I guess. It is frustrating and you feel so helpless that you can do nothing to change the situation. Unemployed benefits are something that offers a little help to get through the situation. Positive thinking is the only thing that helps. You find yourself with a lot of time during the day and do not know what to do with the time.

    14. Sunrise says:

      Eligibility for unemployed benefits vary from state to state. Everyone should check the official sites of the state that you are living in

    15. Bertrand Goal says:

      Reality is that this happens every day pandemic or not. Everyone of us was in that position at least once in a life. So it is better to know your options so that you can handle the situation efficiently with the least stress or whatever

    16. Sandy says:

      Great article and as always in the right time. Thank you

    17. Golden V says:

      My experience with this was awful. I could not get over it for a couple of months. It even impacted my mental health as I thought it was somehow my fault. I went to a psychiatrist and after a few sessions I was able to function normally. So no it is not easy, but the best is to turn to other things and don’t let yourself to think why it happened but to move on as quickly as possible.

    18. Emiliano says:

      To be eligible for employment benefits first thing is to be employed for the past year I think. You have to check everything not to lose time if you are not eligible to.

    19. Mikey L says:

      The first thing to do when you are out of job is to cut on the unnecessary expenses, file for unemployment benefits and start looking for another job immediately

    20. Brandon S says:

      The whole economy is in collapse and more and more people get laid every day. Knowing the options come useful sometimes.

    21. Sonia B says:

      It happened to me. In this crisis I am still out of job. I work from home half-time and unemployed benefits help to cover the basic expenses.

    22. Denica says:

      The whole matter is staying calm. Taking up a hobby is a good advice. In the meantime taking the benefits and trying to find another job will make you busy.

    23. Tommy says:

      Boosting your skills while looking for another job is crucial. There are a lot of free videos to choose. This way you will learn something new which will make your chances of finding new job easier.

    24. Savoya says:

      Everyday I see more and more posts on social medias of people looking for another job. In this situation more and more people are getting laid.

    25. Kenan says:

      I work in a tourist agency. With closing the borders we all stay out of jobs. It is very difficult to find a new job, so I applied for unemployed benefits. Hopefully I will find a new job soon. In the meantime I am staying at home and trying to fill my time.

    26. Stelluta says:

      My boss fired me like it was my fault. So I can not apply for unemployed benefits and I can’t find another job any time soon. So yes, I am furious of the companies and the state and everything.

    27. Pablo says:

      Great article. I like the topic, we need these kinds of topics now.

    28. Goryan says:

      Being between two jobs, I receive the unemployed benefits and I hope I will find new job before they finish.

    29. Bilal says:

      It is very difficult to stay calm and positive in the situation we are.

    30. Tony G says:

      My experience is not very pleasant. I don’t like being without a job and with no prospect finding one soon.

    31. Marlena says:

      The best advice is this situation is to try and find some job working online from home. Most of the companies hire people that way. It cut on their expenses same as yours.

    32. Isley says:

      For all the people that are in situation of not working, you have very nice articles on how to find a part time job and work something to have some income during the crisis.

    33. Pamela says:

      Staying in quarantine and without the job limits all the prospects one has. Yes it is very annoying and difficult when you don’t have money to pay the bills and food.

    34. Andrew Saw says:

      We have to learn how to save money and have something aside to get through the difficult situations. I know that but it is very difficult to save some money when there is not enough. Unemployed benefits do not cover basic costs of living.

    35. Nicol says:

      I like the article. Thank you Pro-money

    36. Mirela says:

      I was referred to the site by a friend of mine. Your articles are perfect. Thank you

    37. Rocky says:

      Unemployed benefits- I find them very useful when being between the jobs.

    38. Meredith says:

      Everything that state covers it is very useful. If we are paying taxes regularly while working it is the state’s turn to pay us especially when we are out of work and this is not our fault

    39. Jetro says:

      When got laid off work, I needed almost a month to come to my senses. It was awful experience. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

    40. Costa says:

      I work in a hospital and while people are complaining for being laid off, I work 24 hours almost. Maybe volunteering in some of the hospitals will help in this situation.

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