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How to File an Unemployment Claim


clerk showing forms to person at counter
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Workers who have become unemployed may be able to file an unemployment claim online or over the phone. Before you file your unemployment claim be sure to have all the information ready you need to complete your application for unemployment compensation.

Get Your Unemployment Claim Information Ready

Before you file, check with your state unemployment office web site to determine the best way to open a claim. There will be detailed instructions on how to open a new claim, along with the information you need to apply.

In addition, the web site will have instructions on how to claim weekly unemployment benefits and what you will need to do to claim extended unemployment benefits, if applicable.

Requirements based on the state you live in, but, here is a sampling of the information you will need to provide to open an unemployment claim.

Information Required to Open an Unemployment Claim

  • Your full name and 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 or other security question information (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 for each employer
  • 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

Unemployment Claim 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.

When the claim process is handled online, claimants will also be asked to create a user name and password in order to log in to their account to file for unemployment benefits.

How to File for Unemployment Benefits

Once you have filed your initial unemployment claim, you will be able to go to your account each week and apply for benefits, typically online or on the phone.

Claimants can also check on the status of the claim to see when checks were mail or credited to an account, as well as to review how much unemployment compensation is left in your account.

How to File for Extended Unemployment Benefits

In times of high unemployment, extended unemployment benefits which provide for additional weeks of unemployment compensation may be available. Information on qualifying for extended unemployment and on how to file a claim or continue a claim will be available on your state unemployment web site.

Where to File an Unemployment 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.

If Your Unemployment Claim is Denied

If you have filed an unemployment benefits claim and your claim is turned down or contested by your employer, you have the right to appeal the denial of your unemployment compensation claim. Here's how to file an unemployment claim appeal.

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.

How to File an Unemployment Appeal
If your unemployment claim is denied by the state unemployment department or contested by your employer, you have the right to appeal the denial of your unemployment claim. Here's how to file an unemployment appeal.

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