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10 Things to Know When Filing for Unemployment

Almost every working person will be unemployed at some point. It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but filing for unemployment can provide enough income while you search for a new job. Here are 10 things you should know before you file.

  1. Lying about why you're unemployed will get you in trouble.
    Lying at any point in the process can cause you to be rejected for unemployment. It can even cause you to lose benefits after you’ve received them. Accurately report the reason you became unemployed. In some extreme cases, lying can be considered fraud, and you may be arrested.
  2. You must report any income you are earning.
    When you file for unemployment, you have to report any gross income (wages before taxes) you are receiving. Even if you have a part-time or temporary job, you need to report these earnings. Failure to do so can result in loss of benefits or fraud charges.
  3. You should first determine if you are eligible.
    Each state has its own eligibility requirements for unemployment. There are various reasons you can receive unemployment—including if you resigned from a position under certain circumstances. The Department of Labor is commonly referred to as the Department of Unemployment. To determine if you are eligible, visit your state’s Department of Labor website.
  4. Unemployment benefits don’t last forever.
    The amount of time you’ll receive benefits depends on your state. Most states allow you to receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, but not all states. States such as Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina all provide fewer than 26 weeks of benefits. Massachusetts and Montana both give more than 26 weeks. Your state’s Department of Labor website will tell you how long you may receive unemployment.
  5. You must actively search for work.
    Most states require you to actively search for work while you are getting unemployment. You must also provide proof of your search to your caseworker each week. If you fail to apply for jobs every week, you may lose your unemployment benefits.
  6. You must stop claiming benefits the moment you begin working.
    Under no circumstances should you wait until your first paycheck or later to inform your caseworker that you’ve found employment. You are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits the moment you begin working a full-time job. If you get a part-time job, you will get reduced benefits.
  7. Benefits are calculated using various factors.
    The amount you receive is based on where you worked, when you worked there, and how much you earned. Your state controls unemployment insurance, so it’s likely that each state will have its own way to determine on how much you’ll receive each week or month.
  8. You can claim in one state and collect in another.
    If the only way you can find employment is by leaving the state, you are allowed to do so. This right is protected under the Full Faith and Credit Clause in the United States Constitution. Moving can be a good option to find better employment.
  9. Being fired doesn’t automatically mean you get unemployment.
    Many people believe that when you get fired, you automatically have the right to receive unemployment. This is not the case. If you quit or are fired, you will go through adjudication. Adjudication is a legal process where you and your former employer are contacted to explain the situation. Then, you will be contacted by a caseworker who will tell you whether or not you will receive benefits.
  10. You can appeal if you are denied.
    If you feel as though you have been unjustly refused unemployment benefits, you can file for an appeal. Appeals are handled differently depending on your state. Most denials will have instructions on how to file an appeal, but if there are none, you can check your local Department of Labor website.