How Do I Qualify For Unemployment?

Michael Hearing

Michael Hearing


Find out how to qualify for unemployment benefits.

Right now, the labor market in the United States is under a lot of stress mostly due to the ongoing dangers and complications of daily life from COVID-19. 

If you have recently been laid off or seen a steep reduction in your self-employment income, you may find yourself asking this question: “How do I qualify for unemployment?”

What Are the Basic Qualifications to Qualify for Unemployment?

According to the United States Department of Labor, the basic qualifications for you to receive unemployment insurance benefits include:

  • You lost your job through no fault of your own (i.e., weren’t not fired for negligence).
  • You are physically able and available to work.
  • You must be actively seeking work.
  • At your most recent job, you earned a certain level of pay for a period of time prior to your becoming unemployed.

Having read those criteria set out by the federal government, you need to be aware that every state has its own unemployment insurance program. 

This means each state may apply these federal qualifying factors in slightly different ways, and individual states’ qualifications may be entirely different from another state. 

For instance, some states are willing to provide full or partial unemployment benefits to unemployed part-time workers who are not looking for full-time employment. On the other hand, other states are unwilling to provide any benefits to part-time workers unless they are actively seeking full-time employment. 

What Else Can Impact if I Can Qualify for Unemployment?

In most states, the next big step in qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits comes from your income during the most recent quarter of the year. 

All income guidelines will be available through your state’s Department of Labor, Department of Workforce Development, or whoever, at the state level, handles your state’s unemployment benefits. Do a quick search online for your state’s unemployment benefits qualifications in order to find out exactly what you’re dealing with, and contact them directly with any further questions. 

Please remember that these offices are likely running with a substantially reduced staff and are dealing with a high volume of potential applicants at this time, so be patient.

Additional Benefits When You Qualify for Unemployment

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more financial benefits were made available to unemployed Americans through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act. 

The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, providing more compensation to the unemployed and giving states the option to extend these unemployment benefits to self-employed and independent contractors across the country. Specifically, the added financial compensation gave each qualified recipient an additional $600 per week on top of their already existing unemployment insurance benefits. 

Due to the guidelines provided within the CARES Act itself and the continuing discussion over extending further unemployment benefits, this additional financial assistance stopped on July 31, 2020. 

Although the additional finances have expired on the federal level, some states have extended the total amount of time that an individual may receive unemployment insurance benefits to as much as 28 weeks – although the average length of time to receive benefits is currently 26 weeks.

Get Unemployment for a Lost Job

If you’re one of the millions of Americans currently finding yourself out of work, looking into the possibility of receiving unemployment benefits could help ease the burden and change your situation. 

Understand that this is a program to help you and others in a time of financial hardship, and it would be worth it to see if you qualify for unemployment.

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