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Determine Your Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance
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General Eligibility


In the United States, you must be unemployed due to no fault of your own if you wish to be eligible for UI benefits. At the same time, you must be available to work and actively seeking employment. However, you can still benefit from the UI program if you were fired or quit your job; in this case, the reason for separation must be assessed by the state’s UI department. In addition, you must be able to provide the details of both your personal and financial situation, including any wages earned in the weeks before the effective date of your UI claim.

Reason for Unemployment

Your reason for separation from employment will be evaluated in order to determine your eligibility for UI benefits. For instance, you will not qualify for UI benefits if you have voluntarily become unemployed. In contrast, you may still be considered eligible to receive UI benefits if you have quit your job for any of the following reasons:

  • Any form of harassment in the workplace
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Relocation of spouse/long-term partner
  • Injury sustained in the workplace
  • A family member has become seriously ill and needs in-home care or supervision

Required Questionnaire

Depending on the state in which you reside, your most recent employer may be directly involved in the application process. For instance, your last employer can be asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding your reason for separation from employment. This step is important for UI offices because the questionnaire is used to verify that you are being honest in your application. Additionally, you will be asked to complete a similar questionnaire that will be compared later to the one filled out by your last employer. If the answers from both questionnaires do not match up regarding your reason for unemployment, your UI claim can be disqualified or declined.

Work Search Requirement

The work search requirement has been implemented in all 51 states. This condition requires that you submit a work search record to your local UI department. In most cases, you will not continue to meet the eligibility requirements without providing this record on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. The record is used to prove that you are actively seeking employment while receiving UI benefits. For this reason, it must include the name, address, and telephone number of the individual who was contacted. You must also include the date of contact, the position of interest, and the result of the contact.

Monetary Eligibility Requirement

Your benefits will be determined based on your earnings or hours worked within a specific 12-month period known as a “base period.” This period is made up of the first four quarters out of the five last completed quarters before the week in which your claim is filed. In specific, you must have earned enough wages in your base period to be eligible for UI benefits. Similarly, an “alternate period” consisting of the last four completed quarters can be used to help you qualify for UI benefits, but it will only be used if you have not earned enough wages or worked enough hours in your regular base period.

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