Unemployment compensation & eligibility.


In order to receive unemployment compensation, workers must meet the unemployment eligibility requirements for wages earned or time worked during an established (one year) period of time. In addition, workers must be determined to be unemployed through no fault of their own.

The following circumstances may disqualify you from collecting unemployment benefits, depending on state law:

  • Quit without good cause
  • Fired for misconduct
  • Resigned because of illness (check on disability benefits)
  • Left to get married
  • Self-employed
  • Involved in a labor dispute
  • Attending School

Unemployment Benefits.

  • Regular benefits are paid for a maximum of 26 weeks in most states.
  • Additional weeks of benefits are be available during times of high unemployment.
  • In many states, the compensation will be half you earnings, up to a maximum amount. For example, in New York State you're entitled to collect up to a maximum of $405, which is half the state's average weekly wage. While in Arizona, the highest benefit rate is $205.
  • Benefits are subject to Federal income taxes and must be reported on your Federal income tax return.

When to File.

Filing for unemployment should be the first item on your agenda when you've been laid-off. It might take two or three weeks to collect a check, so the sooner you file, the faster you'll get paid. A delay in filing will mean a delay in collecting.

Getting Paid.

  • It generally takes a few weeks after your claim to receive your first benefit check. Some States, like New York, require a one-week waiting period; therefore, the second week claimed is the first week of payment.
  • Once your claim is approved you should be able to file weekly by phone or mail.

When You Quit.

Can you collect unemployment if you quit your job? It depends. In most cases, if you voluntarily left employment you are not eligible. However, if you left for "good cause" you may be able to collect. "Good cause" would be determined by the state unemployment office and you will be able to make a case for why you are eligible for benefits. If your claim is denied, you should be entitled to a hearing where you can plead your case.