File for Unemployment

The following is an outline of the steps needed to file for unemployment benefits. Unemployment filing varies from state to state, however there are commonalities that are relevant to all states.

The first step in filing for unemployment insurance benefits is to determine whether or not you will qualify based on your state’s work and wage eligibility requirements (hyperlink to the eligibility and benefits page). Once you evaluate that, you can have added confidence in your ability to qualify for benefits and have faith that the time you invest in filing for unemployment will profit you.

Although the amount of compensation you can receive in unemployment benefits varies from state to state, each state must offer the minimum monetary benefit amount to those who are applying for and are eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. They must also offer these benefits within a specific timeframe from the application date.


Filing for unemployment insurance benefits is a straightforward process. The most time consuming step in the process is gathering the necessary information and documentation needed to complete and file your initial claim. To file your unemployment insurance claim, you will need:

Preparing to apply for unemployment benefits may seem a bit overwhelming with all of the information you need to provide, especially if you have had multiple employers over the previous 18 months. However, once you have gathered all of the needed information and documentation, the actual filing of the claim is fairly simple.

Submitting an unemployment application is the only way to fully and accurately determine your true eligibility for benefits. Provided the information you have submitted on your application is accurate, there will be no negative consequences or adverse effects on future unemployment claims if you file a claim and it is legitimately disqualified.

Register to Work Requirement

In order to have your application considered for unemployment benefits in any state you must complete a mandatory workforce registration – there are few exceptions to this mandate. After submitting your unemployment application, it will not be considered complete for claim processing until you have completed this work registration. In order to continue meeting job search requirements and receiving unemployment benefits, you will likely be required to report your weekly job search efforts during each claim week (hyperlink to terminology page). Learn more about your state’s Workforce Registration requirements by clicking on your state below.

File for Unemployment Online or By Phone

Each U.S. state administers their own unemployment insurance benefit program. Most offer online filing and have claims account management systems in place that make the filing process more efficient. Most states also give you the option to file by phone.

Each state provides special services for individuals who need assistance due to language barriers or physical handicaps. Find out more information about your state’s unemployment benefits program below.