Tips on Unemployment Claims
- Know the eligibility requirements for an unemployment claim in your state. The primary requirement is that you are unemployed through no fault of your own. This means that if you left your job voluntarily, you cannot claim unemployment benefits. The review board also examines your previous work history and determines your period year or base year. This is the first four full calendar quarters of the last five calendar quarters before you file your claim. Each state differs, but you must have made the minimum required amount and worked the minimum time during your base year to qualify for unemployment benefits.
- Another big question unemployment claimants have is how much they can collect. Your benefit payments will be about half of the average salary you made during your base period. Each state has its own minimum and maximum guidelines to follow. If your benefit payment calculations fall outside of the guidelines, the payments will be adjusted to fit within them. You do not have to make the calculations yourself. You will receive a benefits approval letter with the benefit calculations already made.
- File your claim as soon as possible after your job separation. Some states have a one-week waiting period for new claims, meaning you will not start collecting benefits until you are out of work for one entire week. Even if you have a waiting period, you want to claim as soon as possible to make the process smoother. Your state may allow you to file online, over the phone or by using the computer systems offered at the local branch of your state's workforce board. To file a claim, you need your Social Security number, your contact information and the information about your last job.
- Once the review board verifies the details of your job separation and your past employment history, you will receive a determination letter in the mail. If your letter states that your benefits are denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. State guidelines vary, but you should file your appeal as soon as possible. Either fill out the form on the back of the letter or submit a letter asking for an appeal hearing. Gather all of your evidence to verify your version of events, including pay stubs, time sheets and witnesses. Consider hiring an attorney if you feel you would be better represented by a professional during your appeal hearing.