Your Guide to the Unemployment Office

No one wants to have to apply for unemployment, but the twists and turns of the job market make this experience a harsh reality for many in the modern world. The good news is that filing for benefits has never before been easier or more tailored to fit individual needs. 

The key component of a fruitful experience with the unemployment office rests on total honesty about your job situations, both past and present. This means providing transparent information about the reason for your job loss, and providing the unemployment agency with updates on your current job search. 

So long as your weekly unemployment claims continue to reflect your measurable need, you can receive benefits during this difficult time with relatively little stress. Find the answers to some of the most pressing questions about unemployment below.

1. What exactly goes into my unemployment weekly claim? 

Laws and regulations about weekly unemployment claims vary widely from state to state. However, a few basic criteria hold true no matter where you live. 

For example, you may be asked to physically show up in your local benefits office to complete your weekly job search and employment status reports. Some places allow you to complete these via online sites or even, in some cases, phone apps. 

In order to continue receiving your unemployment check, you must keep the benefits office informed about your current job search. This includes reporting any jobs offered to you, even if you turned them down. 

Most of the time the claim itself can be completed in a matter of moments, but keeping up with your job applications takes some planning and time. Your weekly report also requires other information, such as your: 

  • Social Security Number.
  • Date of birth.
  • Name.
  • Address.

Remember that your continued eligibility is calculated by the state’s unemployment calculator using the information you provide. As such, it is important to be as thorough and transparent as possible when filling out your reports. Any willful omissions or manipulations of information can cost you benefits and even incur criminal charges in some cases.

2. What kinds of unemployment benefits can I apply for?

Unemployment benefits in any state may provide more than simple monetary support in a time of job loss. Short and long term disability insurance, extended COBRA coverage, and TANF/Welfare funds may be available through your local office as well. Your local benefits office can also connect you to:

  • Free or low-cost educational training.
  • Funds for starting your own business.
  • Skills assessment.
  • Resume building programs.
  • Re-training classes.

Most unemployment claims last for a standard 26 weeks, but you can be deemed eligible for Extended Benefits under certain circumstances. Extended Benefits allows you to receive unemployment support for an additional 13 weeks once your initial period concludes. 

If you are a harbor worker, longshoreman or coal worker, special benefits protect you under provisions of the federal government. Standard unemployment benefits can also provide you with worker’s compensation if you have been hurt on the job. 

Many people mistakenly believe that they cannot apply for unemployment if they have willfully quit their jobs. While this may be true in many cases, the federal and state governments also deem certain circumstances to be “good cause” for quitting a job. 

These reasons do not disqualify you for receiving unemployment, if you can provide the proper documentation to support your claims. Examples of “good cause” reasons to quit include any type of harassment, failure to receive payment or workplace discrimination.

3. Can I apply for unemployment online?

Every state now possesses an unemployment benefits login page associated with the local benefits office. There you can typically create an account using your name, birth date, Social Security Number, address (physical and email) and a few other aspects of your personal data. 

You will also be asked to enter the details of your employment history, the circumstances surrounding the loss of your most recent job and any other federal or state benefits that you may currently be utilizing. 

Choosing to apply for unemployment online represents the fastest way to get your eligibility established. It also makes it easier to maintain your eligibility with your weekly claims. 

You will create a password that allows you access to all of your unemployment information online. Keep your benefits login in a safe place that only you know about as any misuse of your information if it is stolen may cause serious damage to your claim. 

Online unemployment claims also generally mean you will receive your payments through direct deposit. As such, be prepared to supply your bank routing number, account number and other relevant information if you choose to apply online. 

Note: You can still participate in direct deposit even if you do not apply online. 

4. What happens if I need to file an unemployment appeal? 

Sometimes your first attempt at an unemployment claim may not be successful. In this event, several appeal steps exist to address this problem. You can file an unemployment appeal immediately after being denied benefits for the first time. 

Keep in mind that appeals are often time-sensitive, so if you plan to submit an appeal, you must do so in a timely fashion. Your appeal goes first to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to whom you must present all documentation supporting your case. These are few vital points to remember when you attend your hearing:

  • Stick exclusively to the facts
  • Have all of your paperwork in order, including multiple copies
  • Give completely honest answers no matter the discomfort
  • Many factors can determine your outcome 

Filing an unemployment appeal typically produces a decision from the ALJ within two weeks. If your first appeal results in another denial, there are additional steps you can take. 

Remember that your former employer also retains the right to appeal your benefits. You should be prepared for any challenges this may bring to your case. Also bear in mind that your unemployment appeal affords you the right to representation as needed. This can mean a lawyer, or any executor or solicitor of your choosing.