How to Get Unemployment Benefits

How To Get Unemployment Support
Written by Oana Schneider

If you’re graduating from high school and you would like to go to college but your family does not have the funds for your tuition, there are scholarship programs or grants that you can apply for. You can also take on student loans so that you can earn a degree without having to shell out a huge amount of money for tuition fees.

Now, if you are an adult who is in between jobs, did you know that you can also apply for financial assistance from the federal government? As long as you are eligible, you can get financial support while you are getting back on your feet. Here, we will take a look at the things that you need to know about unemployment Benefits so that you can apply for financial assistance if you are eligible. We will also check on the unemployment rate in the US, and dish out a few tips on how you can survive unemployment until you get accepted for your next job.

Unemployment Statistics in the US

First, what exactly constitutes unemployment in the US? As you may already know, unemployment means that a person is out of a job. But in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, that individual who is out of a job should have been seeking employment within the last four weeks upon application of the financial aid. Let’s say that you got laid off from your work on March and since then, you have been looking for another job position. If you still are not employed come April, you can apply for unemployment benefits with your local government.

In the US, unemployment is actually subject to fluctuations depending on the time of the year. For example, unemployment rate is higher during the winter season because there is a very low demand for construction work and other lines of work which involve an employee being outdoors. Unemployment rates also vary per state. As compared to other countries, the overall unemployment rate in the US is low. This is especially true when you compare the figures with the unemployment rate in the European Union, which has been on an all-time high for the past few years. 

Here are a few more unemployment statistics, according to

  • For the past five years, the global unemployment rate is as follows:

2011 – 5.9%
2012 – 5.9%
2013 – 6%
2014 – 5.9%
2015 – 5.9%

  • For the next two years, the projected rate of global unemployment is also 5.9%.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates in various states ranged from 2.8% in North Dakota, to 8.1% in Georgia for August 2014.
  • California, the state with the largest GDP, ranked seventh when it comes to unemployment rates for 2014. Florida’s unemployment rate is above the national average, just like New York.
  • From May 2014 to May 2015, the unemployment rate in the US is within the 5.1% to 6.5% range. It’s 6.1% on May 2014 and 5.3% on May 2015.

Top 10 Things to Know about Unemployment Benefits

Now, if you are thinking about filing for unemployment benefits so that you can get financial assistance from the government while you are out of a job, here are the top things to learn about it:

1. The unemployment benefits that you can receive vary from state to state.

The reason why unemployment benefits are given to citizens in the first place is to give people a means of survival in between paychecks. These programs are run at the state level, so the amount that you will receive, the eligibility rules and the specifics all depend on which area you are living in. For instance, in Wisconsin, the unemployment benefits are offered by the Department of Workforce Development. In South Dakota, it’s under the Department of Labor and Regulation’s Unemployment Insurance Division. The sites usually have a handbook which you can download in PDF form at their website – where you can learn all you can about how to file unemployment claims.

2. There are eligibility rules before you can receive unemployment insurance support.

Once you have accessed the guidelines from your state’s website, you can take a look at the eligibility rules for claiming unemployment insurance. In South Dakota, for instance, some of the eligibility qualifications include the following:

  • Claimant should file for an application for benefits.
  • Claimant should be totally or partially unemployed; have worked at a job where the employer paid unemployment insurance tax on wages; or lost his/her last job through no fault of their own.

There are also eligibility rules about the amount of wages that should have been earned for the last 15 to 18 months, and a few other conditions.

3. The amount of benefit that you can earn is based on how much you earned in the past.

Again, the amount of benefit that you will receive for unemployment depends on the state you’re in. Let’s take Wisconsin as an example. Here, the weekly benefit rate is based on the percentage of the highest quarterly wage. There are typically minimum amounts to earn and what’s usually called a ‘combined wage claim’ is calculated into the claimant’s benefits.

4. It is possible to file for unemployment benefits in one state, and collect in another.

A recent addition of the Full Faith and Credit Clause in the constitution allowed citizens to collect unemployment benefits from one state, while living in another. The condition is that you should have earned wages in the state you wish to collect from. This is perfect for those who are looking for employment opportunities in a different state from where they lost their jobs.

5. You can only collect benefits if you were laid off.

If you’re a farmer who got laid off during the previous winter season, you are almost assured of qualifying for employment benefits. Other professionals such as teachers, who are unemployed during the summer season and holidays, also typically receive unemployment benefits – although they are subject to restrictions depending on the state they’re in.

6. Some people need to go through the adjudication process.

Adjudication is a legal process wherein it is determined if a person who was fired or who quit his or her job can file for unemployment insurance. This is not an easy process and the adjudicator who will handle your case probably has hundreds of other cases filed ahead of you. Despite the time-consuming and grueling process, you might still be on the receiving end of an unemployment benefits check if you will save your pay stubs, contracts, and all the other documents related to your previous job.

7. Those who are working part-time can still continue to collect benefits.

Individuals who are currently receiving unemployment benefits can continue to collect their checks even if they are only working part-time. However, make sure that you will report your wages during the week that you earn them. Be accurate in answering questions about your wages from your part-time work so that it will be easier for you to file for adjudication, if necessary, within a month or so.

8. Most unemployment benefits should be applied for on a weekly basis.

A few decades back, all you need to do to get a check is to visit the Unemployment Office, answer questions, and wait for your check. Today, filing for unemployment benefits is done over the phone or online – although you still need to answer a series of questions about your wages for the past week, if any.

9. There might be complications if you are filing for unemployment benefits.

If you are working for a temp agency, that agency becomes your employer, not the company that you temped for. This means that if you quit a job assigned to you by the temp agency, you might not be eligible for unemployment benefits during that week.

10. All you have to do to stop your claim is to stop filing for the weekly claims.

If you have been receiving your unemployment checks and you miraculously find yourself hired for a new job position, all you have to do is stop filing a claim. A lot of people think that the process and sending out of checks is automatic. But as mentioned earlier, you do need to file for unemployment benefits on a weekly basis. If you suddenly secured a job, simply stop filing your weekly claims so you won’t receive a check from the government anymore. Perhaps the only exception is when your claim is under adjudication when you got hired.

It’s never a pleasant scenario to find yourself out of a job, but everyone goes through such a stage at one point in their lives or another. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in filing a claim for unemployment benefits because the goal of the government is to help you out while you are in between jobs. As long as you are doing everything in your power to seek employment, you can rest assured knowing that you can get some sort of financial support from the government while you’re trying to get back on your feet.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • It is always very important that you understand what you could be claiming for, because so many people struggle without knowing that there is help out there that they could be getting. If you lose your job, or are only in part time work, then there is no need to struggle as you should be able to get a little extra money to help you on your way, but this is just something that not many people know about. So, find out about just how much you’re entitled to, and see what you can do. It could be just the help you need to be able to get back on your feet.

  • I am in Canada and we have Employment Insurance for when you are laid off. Most of the time nobody gets it unless their laid off. People also go through this for sick leave and maternity leave benefits. In total I have used this system 3 times in my 10 year working career from jobs I was laid off from. It is a good system to have in place.

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