If you are unemployed and unsure of how to file for unemployment benefits, this article will provide you with all of the information you need to know about filing for unemployment benefits.
Unemployment is one of the worst fears someone can have, especially during a competitive period when everyone seeks to grow and advance. You may feel worthless, as if all your hard work in school and previous experience were for naught, but is being unemployed really such a bad situation? My personal experience with this time of life has led me to believe that the answer is NO!
Unemployment is certainly not an ideal circumstance, but it teaches you lessons that you would not otherwise learn. It teaches you patience, as well as how never to give up and never give up hope. Never stop applying, and never give up even if you don’t believe you can. It conveys the message that if you work hard enough, anything is possible and attainable. Have you ever applied for a job and then waited months for an answer, or do you keep using until you get the job you want? I’m sure you’d agree with me on the latter. It teaches you to be patient while never giving up since success does not happen to you; you must seek it out.
Because you can’t expect others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself, the difficult time of unemployment teaches you to believe in yourself. As a result, this phase encourages you to believe in yourself, regardless of how challenging the conditions are or how many times you’ve been told NO. Irrespective of how many regret emails you receive, every moment teaches you something new to look up to and keep traveling until you arrive at your end destination, which is the job you want. If you are currently unemployed and reading this essay, know that you are not alone. You don’t have to give up; instead, you must keep applying. Every day will bring new challenges and opportunities for personal growth. You got a NO today to get a YES tomorrow. You should wake up, give it your all, and expect less. You’ll get a job shortly.
But, while you’re going through this stage, you don’t have to worry about money. This is where unemployment insurance comes in to help you pay your day-to-day financial requirements while also keeping your kitchen functioning. If you have recently lost your job and are distraught at the prospect of not being able to pay your bills, fortunately, each state has unemployment insurance programs. Although you cannot receive unemployment insurance for the rest of your life, it does provide some financial assistance as long as you are unemployed. Let’s dive into the specifics of unemployment insurance and how to apply for it.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is unemployment insurance?
- 2 What are the initial claims?
- 3 How does unemployment insurance work?
- 4 Who is eligible for unemployment insurance?
- 5 Who doesn’t qualify for unemployment insurance?
- 6 How to apply for unemployment insurance?
- 6.1 Obtain all of the essential information
- 6.2 Prepare to submit an application
- 6.3 How to apply for unemployment benefits?
- 7 How to apply for unemployment online?
- 8 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
- 9 Massachusetts unemployment phone number
- 10 Massachusetts unemployment problems
- 11 Unemployment extension
- 12 Conclusion
What is unemployment insurance?
In the United States, unemployment insurance, often known as unemployment benefits, is a state-funded insurance program that pays people weekly if they lose their jobs and meet specific requirements. The receipt of unemployment benefits is not available to those who have quit their jobs or been fired for a legitimate reason. To put it another way, someone who has been laid off due to a shortage of competent labor and who is not at fault is typically eligible for unemployment compensation.
Even though unemployment insurance is governed by federal law, each state is responsible for administering its own program. Workers must adhere to all labor and wage requirements established by their state, including the amount of time spent on the job. Federal and state governments share primary responsibility for the disbursement of pension and other benefits, which are funded in part by payroll taxes collected particularly for that purpose.
A number of safeguards were put in place to aid Americans who were out of work during the coronavirus outbreak. These enhanced benefits became effective in March 2020, following the signing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act by Donald Trump, the former president of the United States. Their duration was extended following the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and it was further extended on March 11, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which provided another extension. According to the terms of the agreement, the additional benefits were supposed to expire on September 6, 2021.
What are the initial claims?
A sort of employment report that counts the number of new jobless claims filed by people who are seeking unemployment benefits is known as an initial claim report. The report, which was initially published in 1967, also provides information on the number of jobless people who are eligible for and receive unemployment assistance. Initial unemployment claims can be contrasted to continuous unemployment claims, which are used to determine how long someone has been out of work.
The number of people who are eligible for unemployment benefits for the first time is recorded in the government’s initial claims report, which is released each month. It releases weekly reports on Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. EST, which follow the emergence of new unemployment claims. When a growing proportion of persons ready to work cannot obtain a job and must file for unemployment benefits, this is generally regarded as a negative indicator for the economy. Consequently, financial professionals and investors pay particular attention to the initial claim settlement figure.
How does unemployment insurance work?
Participation in the unemployment initiative is a collaboration between individual state governments and the federal government. People who are out of work but actively looking for work are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, which are paid in cash. Unemployed workers who meet the requirements of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act and state employment agencies are entitled to compensation.
Even though each state has its own unemployment insurance program, all states are obligated by federal law to adhere to a set of fundamental principles. Generally speaking, according to federal law, unemployment benefits are rather prevalent across state lines. The program is managed by the United States Department of Labor, which verifies that each state complies with the requirements. Workers who meet specific criteria may be eligible for up to 26 weeks of yearly benefits if they meet specific needs.
On average, the cash stipend replaces a percentage of the employee’s typical pay each week, with the amount varying from week to week. Employer taxes are used to fund unemployment insurance in most states, except for California. The FUTA tax will be paid by the vast majority of businesses on both the federal and state levels. Organizations classified as 501(c)3 are exempt from the FUTA tax.
In addition, in three states, employers are compelled to make contributions to the state unemployment fund. In addition to freelancing work and occupations for which they were compensated in cash, unemployed insurance beneficiaries must declare all of their reportable income. Extended benefits may be available if your jobless stent lasts for more than 26 weeks and you meet the eligibility requirements. Unemployed individuals who qualify for prolonged unemployment benefits may be able to receive an additional number of weeks of unemployment benefits. A state’s total unemployment condition will influence whether or not it is possible to receive extended unemployment benefits.
Who is eligible for unemployment insurance?
If a person loses his or her work for no fault of their own, he or she may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Before you can file for unemployment benefits, you must first determine whether you are eligible for them and whether you meet certain requirements. The salary of employees, as well as the reasons for their unemployment, are utilized to determine their fundamental eligibility for the unemployment insurance program. Certain constraints and types of employment may have an impact on the amount of your weekly benefits that are available. Although each state determines who is entitled to unemployment benefits, generally speaking, if you match the following conditions, you will be considered eligible:
- You are out of work as a result of circumstances beyond your control. In most states, this signifies that you were forced to leave your former post due to a scarcity of suitable employment opportunities.
- Comply with all applicable labor and wage regulations. The amount of money earned or the amount of time worked must fulfill the requirements of your state during a predetermined period of time known as the ‘base period.’ Most states require you to submit your claim during the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters before you can file a claim.
- Comply with any additional rules and regulations implemented by the federal government. Learn more about the program in your state by visiting its website.
These general requirements are applied in a variety of ways by different states. While some states only cover part-time workers if they are willing to work full-time, others allow individuals to qualify even if they are looking for another part-time job in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. In addition, states have some control over the number of hours that must be spent working in order to be considered eligible.
In normal circumstances, the vast majority of unemployed employees do not qualify for unemployment benefits. This is due to the fact that unemployment insurance does not cover situations in which a person is looking for their first job, nor does it cover individuals who voluntarily leave their positions in their current positions. It also eliminates individuals who wish to return to the labor force after a period of voluntary unemployment from being considered. Moreover, students, self-employed employees, undocumented workers, and gig workers are ineligible for benefits under the current system’s eligibility requirements. Workers must have been gainfully employed for a minimum period of time before being laid off, with the length of time varying from state to state.
Individuals who have only worked for three months before being laid off will not be eligible for unemployment benefits in your state if your state requires that they work for at least six months before being laid off. Aside from that, many jurisdictions have minimum salary criteria before a layoff; for example, if your state’s threshold is $10,000 and an employee earned only $5,000 before being laid off, they would be ineligible for compensation. This system has a disproportionately negative impact on low-wage workers because they are the ones who are least likely to earn enough to qualify for unemployment benefits while also being the ones who are most likely to be laid off.
Since the late 1950s, just slightly more than half of the unemployed have received unemployment benefits, with the exception of periods of recession. To be clear, unemployment insurance is not intended to cover everyone who is out of work; it does not cover those who voluntarily leave their jobs, those who are looking for their first job, or those who have previously left the labor force voluntarily. It has become more difficult for UI to carry out its duty as the number of jobless individuals who fulfill the key criteria described above but do not meet their state’s eligibility rules – which were established decades ago (in a completely different labor market) – continues to climb.
Once it has been determined that you are eligible for unemployment benefits, DUA (disaster unemployment assistance) will calculate a weekly benefit payment based on your past earnings, the reason for your separation from your former job, and a variety of other considerations.
Who doesn’t qualify for unemployment insurance?
You may be barred from receiving unemployment benefits based on the following grounds.
- Failing to declare new income or work will result in your eligibility for assistance being denied if this occurs. If you are found guilty of fraud, you may even be ordered to repay your benefits or face time in prison as a punishment.
- The receipt of severance money may prevent you from receiving unemployment benefits in several jurisdictions if you have received severance payments in the past. For example, if you receive eight weeks of severance compensation, your eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits begins nine weeks after you lose your job.
- If you’re unable to work because you’re on maternity leave, dealing with a family emergency, temporarily incapacitated, or otherwise unable to work, you may lose your eligibility for benefits. Alternatively, if you quit your job due to medical reasons or to care for an ill family member, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits in several states.
- Not looking for work in a proactive manner: If you have applied for a set number of jobs in a given week, you must notify your state’s unemployment insurance program of this fact. If you fail to submit this information on time, you risk losing your benefits or being forced to stop looking for work.
- You should not accept the wrong job: If you choose a position that is comparable to the one you lost, you will almost certainly lose your benefits. When assessing what type of employment is appropriate for you, your state may take into account factors such as salary, your talents and work experience, and workplace safety.
- Dismissed from his job due to wrongdoing in the workplace: Intentionally disregarding safety regulations, stealing, embezzling, assaulting, and engaging in other criminal acts are all considered misconduct and will disqualify you from receiving unemployment compensation. Failure to pass a drug test may also be construed as inappropriate behavior.
- Fired for wrongdoing outside the workplace: While some states restrict employers from dismissing employees for misconduct outside the job, others do not prohibit it. You may be ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits if you find yourself in this circumstance.
How to apply for unemployment insurance?
If you intend to petition for unemployment benefits, you should conduct some preliminary research. A little forethought and planning will always be beneficial.
Obtain all of the essential information
Your most recent employer
You should be in possession of all pertinent information regarding your previous employer. This contains the name of the company, the name of your previous supervisor, the physical address of the company, email address, and a phone number. If you were a business owner or self-employed, you should think of yourself as your final boss. You must also be aware of your last day of employment as well as the cause for your departure from the company. You should also have a record of your total gross earnings for the previous week, which should begin on Sunday and terminate on the day you stopped working. When self-employed, you would be required to produce your net earnings (after tax deductions) in order to be reimbursed.
Your previous work experience
You will be asked to enter the names and contact information of all of the employers with whom you have worked in the last one and a half years while completing your job history (18 months). This would include their names, company addresses, phone numbers, dates of employment, gross wages earned, an hourly rate of pay, number of hours worked, and the reason for leaving the company, among other things.
Documents of identification
In accordance with the rules of your state, you will be requested to present your identification documentation. If you are applying online, you may be required to provide video call identification; otherwise, you must present two primary documents or one primary document and two secondary documents for the purpose of identity verification. The following are examples of primary and secondary identification documents:
Documents in their original form
Primary documents may include the following items:
- Obtaining a driving permit (US or foreign)
- A passport or passport card is required (US or foreign)
- Certificate of Naturalization issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
- US Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
- Employment Authorization Card (I-766) issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (Form N-550 or N-570)
- A veteran health identification card issued by the federal or state government
- ID card from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- Trusted traveler cards from the Department of Homeland Security (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI)
- An identification card issued by the government (only if you live outside of the US)
- Presidential Directive No. 12 on Homeland Security (HSPD-12)
- Identification card for proving one’s identity
Documents that are secondary in nature
The following are examples of secondary documents:
- Card for health insurance in the United States
- Identification card (social security card)
- Certificate of birth in the United States
- Documents pertaining to school (ID with a photograph, school record, report card)
- Card for registering to vote in the United States
- Identification card for citizens of the United States (Form I-197)
- A certificate stating that you have been released or discharged from active duty (DD214)
- Report of Separation from the National Guard and Record of Service (NGB Form 22)
- Obtaining a birth certificate from a foreign country
- Certificate of Birth in a Foreign Country (FS-545)
- Certification of the Birth Certificate (DS-1350)
- Birth Certificate from a Foreign Consulate (FS-240)
- Card for crossing the border
- Native American tribe lore and tradition
- Photo identification card granted by the tribe
- Card from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs of Canada
- Merchant mariner identification card issued by the United States Coast Guard
Prepare to submit an application
You should file for unemployment benefits within the first week after quitting your job or having your hours reduced. Your unemployment benefits will begin to accrue on the Sunday following the week in which you filed your application for unemployment benefits. You must first serve a one-week unpaid waiting period on your claim before you can be eligible for unemployment benefits. You can only serve the waiting period if you have certified for benefits and met all of your eligibility conditions for that particular week. If you meet the eligibility standards for both weeks, your initial certification will typically include a one-week unpaid waiting period followed by a one-week payment period. To ensure that you continue to receive benefits, you must certify for benefits every two weeks.
How to apply for unemployment benefits?
Now that you have gathered all of the necessary information and are prepared to file for unemployment benefits, you must select the method that best meets your needs. There are two methods for filing for unemployment benefits: online and over the phone.
Online: If you prefer to file for unemployment benefits through an online portal, you must first register an account on the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) website. Following the creation of your account, complete the UI application form by following the directions on your portal.
Phone: If you want to make an application over the phone, each state has its own helpline lines, which are typically toll-free. You can just telephone the Telephone Claim Center for your state and follow the on-screen instructions.
How to apply for unemployment online?
Preparing for the application process by learning the fundamentals of unemployment benefits will save you time and allow you to concentrate on finding a fantastic new job.
The process includes the following steps:
- File a Claim
- Look for Work
- Certify for Weekly Payment
- Expect Two Letters
- Receive Payment
- Repeat Steps 2 & 3 weekly
Questions asked when you apply a claim for unemployment benefits
During the application procedure, you will select “yes” or “no” to the following questions:
- Are you receiving or will you be receiving sustenance from your employer?
Employers submit SUB pay plans (Supplemental Unemployment Benefit pay plans) to the government for approval.
- Did your previous employer inform you that you would be contacted?
This question inquires as to whether you have a firm return to work date within the next ten weeks. If you do have a return to work date within the next ten weeks, respond affirmatively.
- Are you receiving a pension in lieu of Social Security?
- Are you receiving a pension from a prior employer?
- Are you compensated for work-related injuries?
If an employee is injured or becomes ill on the job, the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act requires that most companies pay for necessary medical treatment.
- Are you now employed on a part-time basis?
- Have you brought a claim against a state in the recent year?
- Are you a Tennessee resident who worked in the last 18 months?
- Have you worked for a company located outside of Tennessee in the last 24 months?
If you worked in another state, you might be eligible to work there. Each state has its own standards and weekly benefit levels.
- Have you worked for the federal government in the last 18 months as a federal civilian employee?
If so, were you assigned to a duty station in Tennessee?
- Have you served in the military on active duty in the last 18 months?
Unemployment benefits are available only if you served in the active military and got a DD-214. Orders under Title 32 that are less than 90 days in duration are not covered for UI purposes.
- Are you a reserve or National Guard member?
- Do you obtain employment solely through a recruiting union?
If so, please give the abbreviation for the union’s name and the union’s number.
- Have you worked in the last 18 months for a school system?
- Have you earned compensation in the last 18 months from a professional athletic team?
- In the previous 18 months, have you worked for a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?
- Were you an LLC owner or member?
- Have you served as a public official in the last 18 months?
- Have you worked in the last 18 months for a non-profit organization or church?
- Are you a sole proprietor?
- Are you currently enrolled in school or have an upcoming enrollment date within the next 30 days?
- Are you willing to work the days, hours, and shifts that are customary for your line of employment?
- Is there an unforeseen circumstance that prevents you from working at least 32 hours each week, such as illness, injury, or pregnancy?
- Are you eligible for FMLA leave?
- Are you a car owner?
If you do not own a car, how do you get around?
- How far will you commute to work?
- How much time are you willing to devote to commuting to work?
- What is the bare minimum wage you are willing to take for your new job?
- How much money did you earn in your previous job?
- Have you been offered work or referred to work in the time since you last lost your job?
- Given the taxable nature of unemployment benefits, would you prefer 10% deducted for federal tax purposes?
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
The term Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) refers to a program that temporarily expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance (UI) to those who would not have qualified under normal circumstances. This category included self-employed individuals, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time employees who were affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
PUA was one of the programs created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus package signed into law on March 27, 2020, by then-President Donald Trump.
The program, like with other employment-related programs that granted COVID relief, expired on Sept. 6, 2021.
The PUA provided qualifying workers with unemployment benefits, which included the following:
- Independent contractors and freelancers
- Employees looking for part-time work
- Individuals who do not have a sufficient job history to qualify for state unemployment insurance benefits
Workers who would not otherwise be eligible for benefits under state or federal law
The program began on Jan. 27, 2020, and was scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2020, as specified in the CARES Act. It was extended until March 14, 2021, following the enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act on Dec. 27, 2020.
PUA was resurrected in March 2021, when the Biden government passed the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. After a total of 79 weeks, PUA officially expired on Sept. 6, 2021.
Massachusetts unemployment phone number
Department of Unemployment Assistance Massachusetts administers the unemployment insurance (UI) program in Massachusetts, which offers temporary economic support to qualifying workers. Additionally, DUA determines and collects employer contributions to the unemployment insurance program. Call Unemployment Customer Assistance at (877) 626-6800 to report fraud or for assistance with your claim.
Massachusetts unemployment problems
Massachusetts has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country during the pandemic. However, analysts believe this does not include a large number of people attempting to obtain unemployment benefits but being unable to do so for unknown reasons. According to legal assistance organizations, this group is unexpectedly numerous and growing increasingly desperate.
Months after the Massachusetts unemployment system discovered a large amount of fraud that was delaying payments to thousands of people, the system is still plagued by lengthy delays. Unemployed individuals are increasingly at risk of financial disaster. Numerous sources assert that the state apparatus tasked with protecting the unemployed remains hopelessly overburdened and has failed horribly. There are only a few indicators that persistent and unresolved issues are being addressed.
Extended Benefits are available to employees who have exhausted their usual unemployment benefits during periods of high unemployment. When a state has high unemployment, the basic Extended Assistance program offers up to 13 additional weeks of benefits. Additionally, several states have implemented a voluntary scheme to pay up to seven additional weeks of Extended Benefits (20 weeks maximum) during periods of extremely high unemployment.
Extended Benefits may begin once an individual has exhausted all previous forms of unemployment insurance (not including Disaster Unemployment Assistance or Trade Readjustment Allowances).
Extended Benefits are not available to everyone who qualifies for normal benefits. Your eligibility for Extended Benefits will be determined by the State agency.
Extended Benefits pay the same weekly benefit as ordinary unemployment benefits. An individual’s total quantity of Extended Benefits may be less than 13 weeks (or fewer than 20 weeks).
Submitting a claim
When a state initiates an Extended Benefit period, it tells individuals who have exhausted all of the regular benefits of their potential eligibility for Extended Benefits. You may contact your state’s unemployment insurance department to inquire about Extended Benefits.
It is the purpose of all unemployment insurance (UI) programs to assist eligible employees who have lost their jobs or qualify under the CARES Act by temporarily replacing a portion of their earnings. These benefits are important during economic downturns like the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 70 years after its inception, unemployment insurance continues to provide essential economic protection. It also automatically stabilizes the economy by boosting workers’ spending power during recessions. The main concept of the unemployment insurance system has been that people who have a strong record of work and have diligently paid unemployment insurance taxes should be eligible for temporary unemployment benefits if they are laid off and seeking work.