How to File for Unemployment

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Have you recently been laid off? You may be able to file for unemployment without leaving the comfort of your own home. In most states you can apply online, over the phone, or, in some cases, by mailing in a form. 

In Florida, for example, you are required to submit a completed form online. However, if you don't have access to a computer or are in need of general assistance, you are given the option of visiting the nearest One-Stop Career Center. 

In other states, unemployed workers can file online or by phone. Online access allows you to do everything from filing a new claim, to checking the status of your existing claim, to scheduling hearings. 

Where to File a Claim

If you live in one state and worked in another, or maybe you've recently moved, you should file the claim with the state in which you worked. If you worked in multiple states, the current state in which you live will have an unemployment office that can provide you with the correct information about how you should specifically file your claim.

Information to Have Ready

Requirements can vary from state to state, but having this information ready should ensure your unemployment application goes smoothly:

  • Mailing address, including zip code and phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Driver's License number (if you have one) 
  • Veteran/Military separation date 
  • Mother's maiden name (this is for your security purposes) 
  • Name, address, and phone of last employer
  • Employer's Federal ID number (found on W2 form or old pay stubs) 
  • Date started and ended employment
  • Salary/Hourly Wage 
  • Employer information for past two years

Questions You Should Expect

Common questions you may be asked are as follows:

  • Do you want taxes withheld from your unemployment check?
  • Are you owed vacation or holiday pay from your last employer?
  • Why did you leave?
  • Are you currently working?
  • Are you actively seeking employment?

To be eligible for benefits, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. If you voluntarily quit or if there are questions about your termination the process can become more complicated. However, if your application is denied, there is an appeals process.

Weekly Benefits

After completing your initial filing, you will need to access your account each week and re-apply. This is required as it is expected that you are actively seeking employment. But the weekly re-application process typically takes less than 15 minutes.

You will also be able to see the status of your claim, see when payments are disbursed to you, and see the balance of your account. 

Payments

When you file for unemployment you will be able to select a payment type—check, debit card, or direct deposit. These payments are issued on a weekly basis.

Additional Information

For additional information, contact your state unemployment office.

Additional Resources

If you are looking at other assistance programs while unemployed, be sure to read up on housing assistance, the pros and cons of short-term loans (as many people turn to these during times of difficulty), education grants, and welfare programs.

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