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Your Guide to Unemployment & Filing Your Weekly Claims

Former employees must apply for unemployment to receive benefits from the government.

Unemployment benefits are designed to support individuals through weekly paychecks who were laid off or wrongfully terminated.

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After the initial approval, an unemployment weekly claim is required to continue receiving benefits.

Unemployed individuals can apply for unemployment online, in most states. They will need to provide certain personal information, financial information and details regarding their termination.

Once approved, they must meet the unemployment benefit requirements, and file weekly claims. Learn more about this process in the sections below.

How to File an Initial Unemployment Claim

Unemployed citizens must apply for unemployment as soon as they become separated from their jobs. Waiting to file for benefits can be cause for claim denial or delay.

It is always recommended to file the day after receiving a layoff notice or termination slip.

To apply for unemployment online, former employees must meet eligibility requirements, and submit all necessary information to the state in which they live.

These requirements may differ slightly across the United States. However, the general filing process for initial claims is as follows:

  1. Find your state’s department of labor (or similar) website
  2. Create a personal account, if required
  3. Provide all necessary personal information, such as the below:
    1. Full name, date of birth and Social Security Number
    2. Email address
    3. Phone number
    4. Former employer information
    5. Employment history
    6. Information about any dependents

If you need assistance with the application, a quick search for “an unemployment office near me” will return local results for unemployment resources.

Many offices located around the country have staff ready and able to help you fill out the application.

The unemployment application is a legal document. You must complete the form with accurate information. Changes cannot be made to the application; if you enter incorrect information, your claim can be delayed or denied.

Learn About Filing Unemployment Weekly Claims

Approved applicants must use the unemployment log in information they created during the application process, in order to file weekly claims.

These weekly claims are meant to provide the state with proof that the candidate is following all program requirements. In some states, these updates are required biweekly.

To continue receiving unemployment benefits, all participants must certify that they are partially or fully unemployed each week.

The state determines the participants’ eligibility on a weekly basis depending on this information.

Likewise, these weekly claims assure the state that the participant is completing all required job search activities.

After you apply for unemployment and are approved for benefits, your state will determine your required job search activities. In other words, you must complete certain steps each week to find another job. If you fail to participate in job search activities, you could lose your benefits.

The unemployment weekly claim filing process may differ between states. In general, claimants must complete the required steps. These include:

  1. File your claim during the open filing process.
    1. Most states allow weekly claims beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, and ending on Saturday of the same week.
  2. Log into your benefits account (if online filing is accepted in your state) using the information created during the application process.
    1. If your state only allows phone or mail-in requests, follow the prompts issued by the state benefits section.
  3. Answer all questions about your weekly employment status, which can include:
    1. Whether you were able to work.
    2. If you refused an offer to work.
    3. If you received workers’ compensation or vacation pay.
    4. If you looked for employment.
    5. If you earned any wages.

What if I filed an appeal?

After you apply for unemployment, your state determines your eligibility for benefits. If your claim was denied for any reason, you have the right to an appeal.

This means that you are disagreeing with the decision, and believe you qualify for benefits.

It is important to continue filing an unemployment weekly claim, even during an appeal process.

The same rules apply if your weekly claim is denied. For example, if you were receiving weekly benefits for one month, and were suddenly denied benefits, you can file an appeal.

After appealing the weekly claim denial, you must still file your claim, according to the timeline set by the state. This ensures that you will be paid your full benefits, if your appeal is accepted.

If your appeal is accepted and you failed to file weekly claims during that time, you will not receive any payments that you missed.

How do I track my work search activities?

When you apply for unemployment online, your state’s website generally outlines the work search requirements. These requirements apply to anyone filing for benefits in the state.

To continue to receive payments, most states require candidates to actively look for new jobs.

When applying for unemployment, some states provide a work search activity log or similar document, which allows claimants to track their work search activities.

In Massachusetts, for example, all claimants must look for work at least three times per week on three separate days. They must record this information on a job search log, and provide contact information for all employers to whom they have reached out.

Other states may have a similar process for recording job search activities. For example, some may require claimants to appear, in person, at an unemployment center to receive job search counseling and participate in workshops.

A quick search for “unemployment offices near me” will connect you to local resources you can use to continue receiving benefits.

Like the unemployment weekly claim, your job search activities are required to continue receiving payments.

Failing to record your job searches could put you at risk of losing your benefits. If you need help with your job search or need assistance with interviews, resumes and cover letters, your state can help. Most benefits departments have career assistance for all jobs and industries.

Call your state’s benefits department to learn more about in-person assistance.