Petitioners must claim unemployment benefits each week they are enrolled in their state’s unemployment insurance (UI) program. This initiative is also called unemployment compensation (UC), and it awards funds to candidates who are without work due to circumstances beyond their control. Once petitioners are deemed eligible to collect UI, they may believe that they are entitled to receive funds until they find another job opportunity. However, this is not true.
Enrollees may only receive unemployment insurance benefits each week they properly certify their eligibility. This means that, for every week that petitioners would like to collect funding, they must prove to their state departments that they meet the enrollment requirements. In some states, applicants may be required to complete this task weekly or every two weeks. However, claimants who certify twice a month must still provide information relating to their eligibility for each week. Furthermore, they must remember that even though their circumstances qualify them to receive UI, they may not collect unemployment insurance coverage until they meet the state’s weekly requirements. Petitioners must also wait one week after filing their claims before they are able to start collecting benefits.
Where do I go to claim unemployment benefits?
Usually, petitioners may claim unemployment benefits from the comfort of their own homes. However, regardless of how they chose to apply for UI, they generally have several methods they can use to certify their claims. States often offer enrollees the opportunity to submit their weekly unemployment benefits claim by phone. This option is convenient because petitioners can complete this task from any location that has a consistent phone signal.
Unfortunately, certifying eligibility by phone comes with a potential drawback. Candidates who confirm their weekly eligibility for unemployment credentials by phone have some flexibility regarding where they can submit their claims. However, these petitioners may be limited as to when they can certify. In an effort to moderate high phone traffic, states may instill certain restrictions regarding when petitioners can request their benefits. In some parts of the country, applicants may only call and validate their unemployment insurance eligibility on particular days of the week. However, some states offer a longer time frame for when petitioners may call and submit their requests. Therefore, it is important that petitioners contact their local unemployment office and verify this information so they know exactly when they must file their claims.
Alternatively, applicants may have the opportunity to file their weekly unemployment claim online. Generally, this is the most convenient method because it is the quickest and offers the most flexibility. In many states, claimants have fewer restrictions regarding when they can file their weekly claims. Furthermore, this option allows petitioners to submit their requests for payment from any private or public computer.
However, candidates in some states may also have the option to claim UI benefits using a paper certification form. When this option is available, petitioners will receive a blank request document in the mail. Then, they will be responsible for filling out this paper and mailing it back to the department within the specified deadline. Generally, this process takes the longest to complete, and it requires applicants to complete more steps than if they applied by phone or online.
Requirements to Maintain a Weekly Unemployment Benefits Claim
State departments outline weekly requirements for continued eligibility for unemployment benefits. The specifics for each of these requirements vary from state to state. However, most states award weekly UI benefits to candidates who meet the following criteria:
- Be able to work – Petitioners need to be physically able to work. Generally, this means that claimants cannot collect UI if they are too sick or hurt to work during the weeks they claim.
- Search for employment opportunities – In order to receive unemployment insurance coverage, applicants must proactively search for new work opportunities. Some states require petitioners to complete a certain number of work search activities each week, which could include applying for jobs, contacting potential employers or editing their resumes.
- Be available to work – Claimants who want to collect UC must have schedules that permit them to work. In fact, petitioners need to verify that they do not have scheduling conflicts that prohibit them from working. Examples of scheduling conflicts could include not having reliable transportation or needing to be home to care for elderly family members or children.
What proof do I need to submit an unemployment benefits claim?
In many states, petitioners who want to claim unemployment benefits must submit a summary of their work search efforts to their state UI offices. The number of activities that applicants need to complete each week vary depending on where they are receiving their benefits, and some states require petitioners to provide detailed information about the employers they contact. Regardless, candidates who are claiming benefits for unemployment will usually need to provide the following information in their logs about the employers they contacted:
- Which hiring managers or supervisors they contacted
- Where these places of employment are located
- When they made contact with the employers’ representatives
- How they reached out to their points of contact at the companies
- If they were responding to a particular job post
- What positions they applied for
- Whether or not they received any responses from the businesses
How many times can I claim unemployment benefits?
Once petitioners successfully file their weekly unemployment insurance certification, their state departments will provide them with benefits for that week. Claimants may use these funds to support themselves and their dependents while they search for new full-time work. While UI provides enrollees with valuable support during this transition process, petitioners need to remember that this support will eventually end.
With each unemployment claim, candidates have a set time limit for how many weeks they can collect UI. This varies depending on where petitioners receive funds because each state is responsible for creating its own guidelines for the program. In most states, petitioners may only receive UC support for a maximum of 26 weeks during a single calendar year. However, some places may permit enrollees to receive funds for as few as 12 weeks or as many as 30 weeks. In some instances, though, the national government may issue a federal unemployment extension.
When these extensions are available, claimants may remain enrolled in the program beyond their states’ limits. Nevertheless, candidates should not rely on these extensions to support them. The federal government only activates these extensions when there are widespread levels of unemployment in a state or across the country, which occur infrequently.