There are instances when a worker loses a job and it is not that person’s fault. When this happens, the event can cause an individual to be in a situation of financial distress. To cushion the impact of this sudden event, the United States Department of Labor established the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program. This program provides unemployment benefits for those who are eligible and those who become unemployed when it is not their fault.

Understanding the Program

The program is called the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program. The program is designed to provide temporary financial assistance to workers who are unemployed, provided they meet the state law requirements. Not everyone is eligible to receive benefits from this program. However, if a worker is unemployed in a no-fault situation, eligibility for temporary financial help can be available.

Criteria for Eligibility

There are two basic points about the eligibility criteria. First, it must be determined by the government that the worker lost employment through no-fault on his or her part. Second, the worker must meet the minimum “base period”. The base period is the state requirement for the amount of wages earned and the time worked for an established time-frame to qualify. If all of these factors are accomplished, then eligibility is assured.

Filing the Claim

After becoming unemployed, the worker must get in touch with the state Unemployment Insurance Agency at once. In most states, this agency will allow individuals to file a claim through the Internet or over the telephone. Accurate information must be relayed to the agency so that the processing of the claim will not be delayed. The state where the individual worked is the proper venue for filing a claim. Agencies can be contacted to assist applicants in the accurate way of filing.

Updating for Continued Benefits

When approved, benefits are given on a weekly basis. The state does this to easily monitor all those who are eligible. To continue to enjoy the maximum unemployment benefit time period, a worker must update the state on a weekly basis. Information that needs to be updated weekly include earnings during the week, job offers, or any refusal to work.

Knowing the Benefits

Benefits can be given out for a maximum of 26 weeks. This will give the unemployed worker enough time to look for another job. The benefit computation is based on a certain percentage of a worker’s earnings during a 52-week period prior to unemployment. Some states provide additional benefits. The benefits are subject to Federal Income Tax but the recipient can elect to have the tax withheld by the Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Going Back to Work

Claimants for unemployment benefits may be advised to register with the State Employment Service. They can also get labor market information and re-employment data free of charge from the One Stop Employment Service of the Department of Labor. The office can also refer the unemployed to training programs to enhance their chances of landing a new job. In the event that the worker has limited job opportunities, the agency will offer evaluation and testing to give directions for new work opportunities.

Unemployment benefits are not difficult to get if the person qualifies. The amount of benefits may differ from each individual worker due to differences in the amount of earnings and the amount of time worked prior to unemployment. The state does not want the unemployed to be in financial difficulty or to get a job in which they are overqualified. Furthermore, they do not want workers to end up on additional government assistance. For this reason, the US Department of Labor is willing to assist the unemployed through their website at