Unemployment Benefits and Insurance

Unemployment benefits are monetary compensations you can collect from your unemployment insurance, upon involuntary separation from your job.

Unemployment insurance was instituted during the Great Depression in 1932 by the state of Wisconsin and shortly thereafter six other states followed suit. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed and enacted the Social Security Act, which contained a provision for unemployment insurance. Over time, each U.S. state created their own unemployment insurance program. Now all states, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, offer unemployment benefits through their own state programs.

Unemployment Insurance Fund

In the United States, all employers who have the state’s minimum number of employees are required to pay a percentage of their employees’ wages toward their unemployment fund. In some states, employees may also be responsible to pay into the unemployment fund.

Unemployment Insurance Claims

In the event you find yourself unemployed through no fault of your own, you are legally able to file your initial unemployment insurance claim. Once you do apply, qualify, and start receiving unemployment benefits, you will need to continue to file new claims for continued unemployment insurance benefits. You will make these continued claims either weekly or biweekly, depending on your state’s unemployment claim requirements and depending on your employment status. See your state’s claim week schedule and eligibility requirements by clicking on your state below.

Filing Unemployment Insurance Online

Each U.S. state administers their own unemployment insurance benefits program. Most states offer an online filing option and have claims account management systems in place to make the filing process more efficient. To find your state’s workforce unemployment insurance benefit website, click on your state below.

Apply for Unemployment Insurance

Before you apply for unemployment insurance in any state, you should know which specific eligibility criteria your state requires. Although criteria varies from state to state, there are some basic commonalities, including:

Each U.S. state follows a specific wage earning and work eligibility requirement. When you apply for benefits, your wage and work eligibility will be evaluated from the first four quarters of the previous 18-month period prior to the date of your claim--this is known as your base period. Many states have alternate base period schedules for those who do not meet the initial base period earning requirements.

Most states require the claimant to register to work through a workforce program that could require making an online resume and applying for a minimum number of jobs per week. To find the eligibility requirements and steps for how to file for unemployment in your state, click below.