Find out if you might qualify for unemployment benefits in your state.
Each state sets its own guidelines for eligibility for unemployment benefits, but you usually qualify if you:
Are unemployed through no fault of your own. In most states, this means you have to have separated from your last job due to a lack of available work.
Meet work and wage requirements. You must meet your state’s requirements for wages earned or time worked during an established period of time referred to as a "base period." (In most states, this is usually the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the time that your claim is filed.)
Meet additional state requirements. Find details of your own state’s program by selecting your state below.
In March 2020, new federal law greatly expanded unemployment insurance. Many workers who were not previously covered are now eligible. You may now be eligible if any of the following are true:
- Your employer permanently or temporarily laid you off due to coronavirus measures
- Your employer reduced your work hours due to coronavirus measures
- You are self-employed and have lost income due to coronavirus measures
- You’re quarantined and can’t work due to coronavirus
- You’re unable to work due to a risk of exposure to coronavirus
- You can’t work because you’re caring for a family member due to coronavirus
December 2020 update: New law passed in December 2020 adds both money and extra weeks to unemployment benefits.
Extra $300. Everybody who currently qualifies for unemployment benefits will automatically receive an additional $300 per week under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefit, which will be paid for 11 weeks, starting at the end of December through March 14.
Extra 11 weeks. The new law also adds an extra 11 weeks to the total number of weeks people can collect unemployment benefits. This is on top of the 13 week extension that had been added by the CARES Act in March 2020, and applies to anyone receiving either state unemployment benefits or pandemic unemployment assistance. If your benefits have already run out, check with your state’s unemployment insurance program to find out if your benefits will be automatically reinstated, or if you need to do anything.
Extra $100 for some self-employed individuals. States may also begin offering an additional federal benefit of $100 per week to people who have earned at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income, but don’t receive the self-employment version of unemployment benefits (called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) because they also had a wage-earning job that made them eligible for state unemployment benefits. States have to reach an agreement with the federal government to offer this benefit, so check with your state’s unemployment insurance program to find out if you qualify. If you do, the extra money would be added to the extra $300 weekly benefit, and would also end on March 14.
Please note that each state implements the above policies within their own Unemployment Insurance program. Since the law has changed so recently, most states have not updated their information yet. But if you are eligible, or think you might be eligible, should apply now, in the state where you worked.
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