Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Unemployment Benefits

I would assume most every state has some kind of unemployment benefits. My state and the federal government collect taxes from employers in order to pay unemployment benefits to unemployed workers.

A few years ago, when I was unemployed, I had to travel to the unemployment office to sign up for the benefits. Now, all that can be done online by way of the internet.

To collect unemployment benefits, you have to set up a profile that includes your name, mailing address, social security number, and the name and address of the last company for which you worked. All this information is used to verify that you did work at that company. The unemployment office checks with the company to make sure you qualify for unemployment benefits.

In my state, there are three main requirements for receiving unemployment benefits: past wages, job separation, and ongoing availability and work search. You must meet all of the requirements to receive benefits.

Past wages are used to determine if you are even eligible and to figure out how much you will receive. In this state, the weekly benefit amount is between $58 and $392 depending upon the wages you have been earning the last year or so. There is also a maximum amount that you can receive, which amounts to about six months of pay in my state. However, I think some states are extending benefits due to our current economic situation and the job market.

You must have a valid reason for leaving your last job such as being laid off due to a general lay off or the company closed. If you just quit for no good reason or were fired for a valid reason, you are not likely to be able to collect unemployment benefits. In other words, you must be unemployed or partially unemployed through no fault of your own to receive benefits. You may have to prove that, but usually the benefits people can just check with your last employer to get the facts.

You will also be expected to be available to work and to look for work while you are collecting unemployment benefits. I currently have to make five contacts each week to receive benefits. That means searching online sites for suitable jobs, networking with recruiters and friends, applying for jobs, going on interviews, and so on. In other words, they are paying you to find a job. Your job is finding a job.

There are some additional terms like reducing the amount you are willing to work for as time goes on. After looking for work, and collecting benefits for a certain length of time, you may be asked to reduce your salary demands by a given percentage. If you were asking for $20 an hour, you might have to start looking for and be willing to accept jobs that only pay $18 an hour.

This all may sound a bit complicated, and I really have not even gone into that much detail, but you will probably receive a booklet explaining it all. If you worked at your last job for long enough and left it for a valid reason, you probably have nothing to worry about. You may only receive a fraction of what you were making, but it can help tide you over until you find that next job.

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