What are unemployment benefits?

The state regulates unemployment insurance funds under federal guidelines that protect workers who find themselves jobless. These funds may become available to you if you lose your job, providing you with financial assistance. This compensation will be available for a limited time, to support you during your search for new employment.

I’m out of a job. What kinds of unemployment benefits can I receive?

In general, you will be eligible for benefits if you are jobless through no fault of your own, and actively willing to work again if given the opportunity. Each state has its own criteria for determining eligibility. Most states will disqualify workers who, “quit without good cause, (got) fired for misconduct, resigned because of illness, left to get married, (were) self-employed, involved in a labor dispute, or attending school”1. However, if you got laid off as part of downsizing, you are almost certain to qualify for some kind of support. It is best to visit the website for your state to get your specific questions answered. You can then fill out an application online or over the phone. This list of state websites will lead you to the information you need.

It is very important to fill out this application as soon as possible, so you can start receiving help right away. There will already be a lag while the unemployment office verifies your information and processes your request. The amount of money you receive will depend on a variety of factors, including your previous salary. However, this amount is often half the typical salary.

You will be able to receive this support for a limited period of time, so you can remain on your feet while searching for new employment. This time period is typically six months, and once it comes to an end or you find a new job, your benefits will be over.

What are the steps to receiving unemployment?

  1. Search online for information about your state’s unemployment benefits.
  2. Fill out an application, usually online or over the phone.
  3. Wait to receive confirmation from your state, as your state office determines your eligibility.
  4. Continue to apply weekly for unemployment, until your benefits run out or you find a new job. You will need to continually confirm that you still need those benefits if your employment situation does not change.
  5. Remember, your state will provide you with a phone number to call if you need to check on your status or ask further questions.

Doyle, Allison. About.com: Job Searching. October 24, 2009.

Laura Gutmann

Laura Gutmann

Laura Gutmann is currently a PhD student in Education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As part of her studies, she hopes to focus on creating better resources and training materials for teachers.

Previously, she worked as the Vice President of Programs for Junior Achievement of New York. She was responsible for reaching 95,000 K-12 students per year with financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship programming. Her team organized events for schools across the five boroughs of New York City, facilitating positive relationships between classrooms and the community. Ms. Gutmann has extensive experience building curriculum focused on life skills, and has partnered with dozens of corporations to train their employees to become volunteer role models.

Ms. Gutmann also created resources for both students and educators during her time as a kindergarten teacher in the South Bronx. She first entered the classroom through the Teach for America corps, and went on to receive her M.S. Ed. in Early Childhood from Bank Street College. She has developed web resources, professional development sessions, and parent workshops, and served as a graduate-level writing tutor and resume coach.

Before becoming a teacher, Ms. Gutmann studied Public Policy at Duke University, where she received her B.A. in 2002. She worked in Durham Public Schools as a reading tutor and photography teacher. She also spent time doing research for the American Federation of Teachers, and served as a consultant for the Wake Education Partnership.

Ms. Gutmann currently resides in Chapel Hill with her husband and her dog, a poodle named Noodle.
Laura Gutmann

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