Unemployment happens often without worker fault. A quick look at the national headlines often reveals news of large national layoffs or smaller regional impacts. In a global economy, time and great distances separate the causes and effects of economic change, and involve seemingly unrelated events. Global competition has spawned a new business model of a leaner more flexible corporate structure. This business model can adapt quickly to market conditions and opportunities anywhere in the world. These rapid business changes sometimes involve workers gaining and losing jobs. When a worker loses his or job, one immediate step is to determine eligibility for unemployment compensation.

Locating The Source

State governments operate the federal-state unemployment insurance system. States make rules and issue guidelines. Applicants can usually file claims by telephone, online, and in person at a state office location. State requirements vary, however, standard information includes social security number, name, address, contact information, and information from a current pay statement such as the employer’s name and employer ID number. Referred to as opening a claim, this initial phase is critical to the outcome. A successful application requires accurate and complete information. It is important to act quickly to open a claim and initiate the process since there is a gap of about 3-4 weeks before an initial payment.

Qualifications and Benefits

Opening a claim is the first step in getting benefits. One must establish employment and the level of hours and salary during a six-month period referred to as the base period. The level of benefits depends upon the length of employment and the level of income in the base period. The basic entitlement is for 26 weeks. The laws treat each week as a benefit period for which the applicant must remain qualified. Benefits end at the earlier of new employment or 26 consecutive weeks. The basic qualification for unemployment is loss of work without fault of the worker. There have been many decisions, rules, and administrative procedures to define the concept of worker fault. Each state makes rules and issues decisions on the point. The best advice is to gather all of the facts when applying concerning the termination of employment, and be prepared to explain the circumstance thoroughly.

Unemployment System Benefits

Benefits consist of income support payments and assistance in locating jobs and job related training. Basic unemployment income support runs for a term of 26 weeks, or approximately six months. In times of national economic downturns characterized by high unemployment, the federal government has provided extended unemployment compensation benefits. These monies extend the period for income support and job assistance. In the latest instance, the Congress enacted an emergency unemployment extension that provided income support for up to 99 weeks. When available, the state unemployment agency provides information on how to file for extended benefits.

Disputes And Appeals

The employer can dispute the terms of loss of employment and cite worker misconduct as the cause. A dismissal for cause can be grounds for denial of a claim. In contested cases, the employee and employer can appeal the initial decision on the claim for benefits. An appeal is a formal process in which each side has an opportunity to state grounds for a favorable decision. Parties can produce evidence, call witnesses, and try to persuade the hearing official that the law and facts favor their argument. Employer and employee are free to retain lawyers to advise them, generally the process involves the applicant and employer representatives.

Federal-State Unemployment Compensation System

Extended unemployment Benefits