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Applying for Unemployment Benefits? Here's What You'll Need

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    If your position was recently terminated or you are concerned that you will be unemployed in the near future then now is the time to make sure you understand everything you will need to do in order to begin receiving your unemployment insurance as quickly as possible.

    First and foremost, you will need to contact your state unemployment office to begin the application process. Unemployment benefits are handled by states and many will allow you to apply online, over the phone, or in person at your local unemployment office. If you have recently moved to another state or live in one state and work or worked in another then you will file your claim with the state you recently worked in.

    When you file your claim you will need certain documents in order to move forward. The states vary in their requirements, but you will generally need to provide a:

    • Mailing address, including zip code
    • Phone number
    • Social Security number
    • Driver's License or State ID number (if you have one)
    • Veteran/Military separation date (if you have one)
    • Name, address, phone number of your most recent employer
    • Employer information for the last two years.

    You will be asked if you left the job on your own free will, were laid off, or fired. If you were fired by your employer for violating your company policies or quit then you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits. Each state has their own guidelines, so it is important to contact state authorities for further guidance.

    If your claim is approved then it's also important to understand that your benefits are considered taxable income. You can choose to have the tax deferred and pay them when you file your taxes or you can have them withheld from your benefit payments.

    If you're ready to get started then contact your state unemployment office to begin the application process. States vary on the length of eligibility and the amount you can receive.

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    I hope the time between being approved for benefits and receiving your first check doesn't take too long. I can only imagine how swamped unemployment agencies throughout the country are right now.

    I'm assuming the vast majority of states unemployment offices aren't accepting in-person applications, so if you were planning on showing up in person to file for unemployment you should definitely make sure your local office is still open for walk-in appointments before heading out.

    The easiest way to do it, if you're able, is to file online (if your state allows) or over the phone.

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    Its worth noting, if you were laid off to due to COVID-19 or even if you just had to quit working, for instance you needed to stay at home to take care of kids not in school, you still qualify for expanded unemployment benefits, at least until July 31st. And even if you weren't laid off but furloughed, where your hours were cut drastically or to zero, you still qualify. And the expanded unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus also now cover gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors and other self-employed people.

    Expanded unemployment benefits refer to the additional $600/wk the federal govt will cover ON TOP of whatever you would normally qualify for, per state. And that much higher weekly payout will last until July 31st. Also the stimulus plan that Congress passed to expand unemployment also extends the maximum weeks you can get unemployment for 13 more weeks. But those 13 weeks will be at the normal rate you would qualify for, which the national avg is $340/wk.

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    JaredS Wrote:

    I hope the time between being approved for benefits and receiving your first check doesn't take too long. I can only imagine how swamped unemployment agencies throughout the country are right now.

    I'm assuming the vast majority of states unemployment offices aren't accepting in-person applications, so if you were planning on showing up in person to file for unemployment you should definitely make sure your local office is still open for walk-in appointments before heading out.

    The easiest way to do it, if you're able, is to file online (if your state allows) or over the phone.

    Agreed on all accounts. Expect much, much longer wait times. Approximately 10 million people filed for unemployment in the US in the last two weeks. We have never seen anything like that before. It might feel impossible to call in right now and actually get a person on the phone with the crazy wait times everyone is experiencing, and websites to apply will be slow and sometimes unresponsive, especially if you live in a state hit particularly hard.

    But you should still be attempting to apply online and be as patient as you can. You will get your application processed online eventually, it just will take much longer than normal. And avoid calling in unless you absolutely have to.

    Normal wait times to get funds are one week once approved. Respond here if you have applied and what your experience thus far has been.

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    J.K.Logic Wrote: But you should still be attempting to apply online and be as patient as you can. You will get your application processed online eventually, it just will take much longer than normal. And avoid calling in unless you absolutely have to.

    Normal wait times to get funds are one week once approved. Respond here if you have applied and what your experience thus far has been.

    The best run states in the country could never have been prepared to handle hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of unemployment claims all at once. I'm getting tired of calling this "unprecedented" but there's no other word for it. Congress will almost certainly need to step back in the picture and get some badly needed funds to the states to help prop up their unemployment insurance programs because we're a few weeks away (or less) from seeing those funds dry up in many states.

    I'd also love to hear from anyone who has recently applied for unemployment insurance to hear what their experience was like and whether you approve of how your state is handling the crisis.

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    Max Wrote:

    If your position was recently terminated or you are concerned that you will be unemployed in the near future then now is the time to make sure you understand everything you will need to do in order to begin receiving your unemployment insurance as quickly as possible.

    First and foremost, you will need to contact your state unemployment office to begin the application process. Unemployment benefits are handled by states and many will allow you to apply online, over the phone, or in person at your local unemployment office. If you have recently moved to another state or live in one state and work or worked in another then you will file your claim with the state you recently worked in.

    When you file your claim you will need certain documents in order to move forward. The states vary in their requirements, but you will generally need to provide a:

    • Mailing address, including zip code
    • Phone number
    • Social Security number
    • Driver's License or State ID number (if you have one)
    • Veteran/Military separation date (if you have one)
    • Name, address, phone number of your most recent employer
    • Employer information for the last two years.

    You will be asked if you left the job on your own free will, were laid off, or fired. If you were fired by your employer for violating your company policies or quit then you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits. Each state has their own guidelines, so it is important to contact state authorities for further guidance.

    If your claim is approved then it's also important to understand that your benefits are considered taxable income. You can choose to have the tax deferred and pay them when you file your taxes or you can have them withheld from your benefit payments.

    If you're ready to get started then contact your state unemployment office to begin the application process. States vary on the length of eligibility and the amount you can receive.

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    I have some questions I hope you can help me with. I am a single mother with sole custody of a 16 year old living at home with me. I have also been exposed to COVID-19 at work. My job is considered essential. I work for a non profit organization. However, I do not feel safe at work and my son is struggling with the fact that I have to leave the house to work. Would I qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance under the new CARES Act? Could I leave work on a voluntary layoff and collect unemployment, returning to work when it is safe to do so?
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    CourtneyF Wrote: I have some questions I hope you can help me with. I am a single mother with sole custody of a 16 year old living at home with me. I have also been exposed to COVID-19 at work. My job is considered essential. I work for a non profit organization. However, I do not feel safe at work and my son is struggling with the fact that I have to leave the house to work. Would I qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance under the new CARES Act? Could I leave work on a voluntary layoff and collect unemployment, returning to work when it is safe to do so?

    That's a very good question. From what I understand, you can collect unemployment if you stopped working any reason related to COVID-19. That would include needing to stay at home to take care of a dependent, or if your work environment isn't safe. So it does seem like you would qualify for unemployment under these circumstances, but I wouldn't exactly rely on that.

    I would recommend talking with your employer, if you haven't already and voice your concerns. Is this a job you could possibly do from home? And what state are you in? There are SBA programs companies can utilize now for paycheck protection if they need to furlough workers, that in some cases businesses, including non-profits, they do not have to pay back. So there a few ways your job could be safe and you could stay at home, but it will involve communicating with your employer.

    Delicate situation I'm sure, as you also don't want to endanger your job status after this is all over.

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    Yeah, luckily states are much more lax right now with the application process. Like you don't have to look for a job right now until the pandemic is no longer technically a pandemic. And most states aren't requiring waiting periods or the need to have as much work history, or any at all for some states.

    Just as long as you are out of work due to COVID-19. Unfortunately that means tens of millions are applying through the US and completely overwhelming the state's DOL sites. And they are extremely understaffed. So its a terrible combo.

    But the good news is once you do get approved, when you finally finally do, you should get retroactive benefits. So you won't be penalized for the time you had to wait.

    Has anyone successfully received unemployment? Can you share your success story and your state and maybe any tips you figured out to speed up the process or ensure your application went through as it should? Could use some success stories on this topic for sure.