Career Advice

Don't Sweat! Understanding Unemployment Benefits is Easier than You Think

Job Mouse November 15, 2023

Losing a job can be a tough experience. The feeling of uncertainty and financial pressure can often lead one to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. But did you know that unemployment benefits are available to assist individuals in this situation? If you're looking to begin fresh after a layoff, starting with understanding these benefits is an essential part of your strategy.

What Are Unemployment Benefits?

Unemployment benefits, simply put, are financial payments made to employees who are out of work. In other words, it's a financial cushion to cover income lost during a period of unemployment. Benefits eligibility varies by state, but employers generally fund unemployment compensation programs through taxes. In the US, the Department of Labor is responsible for overseeing these programs and providing information about them.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements vary from state-to-state, but in general, you need to have lost your job through no fault of your own to be eligible. A few circumstances that might disqualify you from receiving benefits include voluntarily quitting your job, getting fired because of poor performance, and refusing offered suitable work. Depending on the state, you might also have to meet minimum wage and work requirements.

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits?

The application process is generally straightforward. Go to your state's unemployment insurance website and look for the unemployment insurance application. Complete the application and then wait to hear back from your state's employment department regarding your eligibility. If you're approved, you can start claiming benefits and get a weekly payment. Note, you must continue to meet the eligibility requirements, including an ongoing job search, to continue claiming benefits.

How Much Can You Get?

The amount you may qualify for differs from state-to-state. Benefits are typically calculated based on a percentage of your prior income, and there’s a specific number of weeks you can receive these benefits, usually around 26 weeks. The state's Research and Statistics Department or the State Department of Labor can help provide specific details regarding reimbursement amounts and the duration of payments.

How to Make the Most of Unemployment Benefits?

It's essential to use the benefits as a helpful resource during this challenging time. In addition to using the funds to cover your basic needs, you might also consider investing some of the money in activities that help contribute to your professional growth and improves your chances of landing a new job. Building your skills, improving your education level, and creating a solid network can all help speed up your job search process.

Unemployment benefits can appear overwhelming to apply and understand at first glance, but it's vital to its process during the transitional period from being laid off to new employment. The financial assistance is provided to help cover employment income discontinued due to involuntary factors. Eligibility requirements differ from state-to-state, but typically include the use of past income standards and submission of weekly job seeking reports. Understanding how to utilize the benefits effectively—initially for sustenance and putting some towards personal growth—can help you through a challenging time of falling employment and restart the path to a new job.