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How to File for Unemployment

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits


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If you have been laid off from your job you may be able to file for unemployment online without visiting an unemployment office. In many states, unemployed workers can apply for unemployment benefits online, over the phone or, in some cases, by mailing a form.

In New York, for example, filing for NYS unemployment benefits is relatively simple. Unemployed workers can visit the Unemployment Benefits web site to file a new unemployment claim, claim weekly benefits, or check on the status of an existing unemployment compensation claim. Filing by phone is also an option.

California unemployed workers, as another example, can also file an unemployment insurance claim by completing an online form. In addition, there is a form that can be printed out, completed, and mailed or faxed, as well as a toll-free number to call to file for unemployment via the telephone.

Where to File a Claim

If you live in one state and work in another, or if you have moved, in general, you should file your unemployment claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment office where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states.

Get Your Unemployment Claim Information Ready

Before you file, check with your state unemployment office to determine the best way to open a claim.

Requirements may vary from state to state, but here is a sampling of the information you will need to have available when filing for unemployment:

  • Mailing address, including zip code and phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Driver's License number (if you have one)
  • Veteran/Military separation date
  • Mother's maiden name (for security/access purposes)
  • Name, address, phone number of your last employer
  • Employer's Federal ID Number (from your W2 form or pay stub)
  • Date started and date ended employment
  • How much you earned
  • Previous employer information, depending on how long you worked for your last employer. Typically, employer information for the last two years is requested.

Claimant Questions
You may be asked whether you want taxes withheld from your unemployment check. You also may be asked if you are owed vacation or holiday pay. In addition, the unemployment office will want to know the reason you left the job. The criteria for unemployment eligibility includes being out of work because of no fault of your own. If you quit or if there are questions on your termination, the application process may be more complicated. However, if your claim is denied, there is an appeals process.

Claimants will also be asked to create a user name and/or password in order to log in to their account to file for unemployment benefits.

Filing for Weekly Benefits
Once you have filed your initial claim for unemployment benefits, you will be able to go to your account each week and apply for benefits. Claimants can also check on the status of the claim to see when payment was made and to review how much unemployment compensation is left in their account.

Unemployment Payments
Depending on your state, unemployment benefits are paid via check, debit card or direct deposit. When you file for unemployment you will be able to review and select an option for benefit payments.

Have a Question or Need More Information?
Contact your state unemployment office. You may find the information you need online or you will be able to find a phone number to call for assistance.

Additional Resources:

Unemployment benefits, unemployment rates, compensation, unemployment offices, extended unemployment benefits and how to file for unemployment.

Read More: Unemployment Compensation | Unemployment Extension | How to Calculate Your Unemployment Benefits

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