Out of Work? You Might Be Eligible for Unemployment Insurance.

February 19, 2017

Life happens. Are you out of work though no fault of your own? You might be eligible for cash stipends or unemployment benefits. This is through unemployment insurance, a partnership between your state and the federal government with the Department of Labor (DOL) as overseer of the program.

Find out your eligibility for unemployment insurance and how this program can possibly help you while in-between jobs.

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Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program

This program provides unemployment insurance benefits, temporary financial assistance, or unemployment compensation to eligible workers.
Each state has its own unemployment insurance program (so it’s also called as state UI) within the bounds of Federal rules.

Notwithstanding that, the state will determine eligibility, funding, the amount of benefits, and the duration of these benefits based on the law that set up its own UI program.

State unemployment insurance programs generally require two things:

  1. The unemployment of a worker must be of no fault of his or her own. This will be determined by state law.
  2. The worker must meet the state’s required minimum amount of wages earned or minimum amount of time worked.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

According to DOL’s website, benefits are a percentage of a person’s earnings in the most recent 52-week period, up to a maximum claim amount set by the state.

Depending on the state, these unemployment insurance benefits can be paid out in 26 weeks or half a year, at most.

The state may deem to extend the benefits period for 13 more weeks in times of high unemployment. During this time, the state may choose to provide additional compensation or extended benefits.

Insured Unemployment, Unemployment Insurance Benefits by the Numbers

According to Stephen Williamson, former economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, DOL tracks insured unemployment rate, which measures the number of people who receive unemployment insurance as a percentage of the workforce.

While a nonstandard measure of unemployment, the rate is useful because there is an observed action — the act of filing unemployment insurance claims among the insured unemployed.

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Per DOL’s latest release, the number of initial unemployment insurance claims reached 261,000 as of the week ended Jan. 6, 2018. The seasonally adjusted data showed an increase from the previous week’s 250,000.

On a four-week period, the amount of claims averaged 250,750, up from the previous week’s average of 241,750.

DOL also has an advance estimate of the insured unemployment rate that showed 1.3% for the week that ended on Dec. 30, 2017, down by 0.1% from the previous week.

The advance insured unemployment rate, as seasonally adjusted, for the week that ended Dec. 30, was 1,867,000 — a decrease by 35,000 from the previous week’s level.

According to DOL, this has been its lowest level since Dec. 29, 1973 when the insured unemployment level was 1,805,000.

For the week that ended on Dec. 23, 2017, 2,101,620 million people claimed benefits in all programs. Around the same time in 2016, 2,294,430 people filed claims in all programs.

Collecting UI Claims

You must contact your state unemployment insurance agency after becoming unemployed without delay.

Then file a claim online or by telephone, as applicable. To avoid any delays, be sure to provide the correct information.

To continue receiving benefits, you must file weekly or bi-weekly claims. Be prepared to answer questions regarding your continued eligibility and report any earnings, work offer, refusal of work during the week.

Find your state’s unemployment insurance program details here.

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