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How to File an Unemployment Insurance Claim

Unemployment insurance offers a way to stay on your feet after an unexpected loss of employment. Unemployment insurance may come with a waiting period of one week before you are able to begin receiving benefits, so you will want to file your claim as soon as possible. Here is a quick look at the steps you will need to take in order to file for unemployment insurance.

  1. Check your eligibility.
    Receiving unemployment aid relies heavily on the circumstances surrounding your recent unemployment. Make sure that you were not listed as an independent contractor with your previous employer. If this is the case, you will be viewed as self-employed and therefore not eligible for aid. If you check your eligibility and find you are not eligible to receive aid, you may appeal this process at an unemployment office.
  2. Find where you need to file.
    Unemployment insurance has federal guidelines, but every state handles unemployment aid on their own. What this means is that your state has an unemployment office that you will need to contact in order to file for unemployment insurance benefits. You won’t need to file any forms with your past job, just go directly to the unemployment office of your state. You can find the contact information for your state’s unemployment office on the U.S. Department of Labor website.
  3. Have your documents ready.
    Your state may have special requirements, but there is a set of documents you will usually need in order to file for unemployment insurance. These documents are used to identify you and your previous job as well as to help the office ensure that you conduct yourself properly while receiving benefits. These documents can include your Employer Registration Number which is found on your W-2, names and addresses of your employers over the last 18 months, your Social Security number, your driving license, a mailing address, and a telephone number that can be used to reach you. Though you may be able to apply without some of the listed information, it will set back your application and create a longer waiting period before receiving benefits.
  4. File online, over the phone, or in person.
    Once you know where to file and have the necessary documents on hand, the next step is to simply contact your local unemployment office and file the claim. State unemployment offices usually offer paper forms that can be turned in at the office as well as online filing through their website. Additionally, you may be able to call into your local office and file your claim that way. 
  5. Keep records of your job search.
    Unemployment insurance is offered under the assumption that you will use your time receiving benefits as a time to look for new employment. Because of this, the unemployment office will want records of your job search. Keep records carefully and do not turn down a position. If the unemployment office finds you turned down a position then you can lose your benefits altogether
Last Updated: April 06, 2016