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Can I Collect Unemployment if I Only Worked There for 2 Weeks?

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Adjusting to a new job can be stressful, but not as stressful as losing that job when you've barely started. If you are out of a job after only working two weeks, all is not lost. You can still collect unemployment benefits, provided you worked at other jobs before beginning this one. The unemployment commission looks at your work history for the previous year to 18 months, not only the two weeks you were employed in your most recent job.


To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have worked either full or part time for a specified period of time before you file for unemployment and you must have earned a minimum amount of money in that time. Each state establishes its own requirements. For example, in Iowa as of 2011, you must have worked in at least two of the previous five quarters prior to filing for unemployment and you must have earned at least $650 in your lowest-earning quarter and at least $1,290 in your highest-paying quarter. New York State also requires you to have worked in two of the previous five quarters. You must have earned at least $1,600 in one of these quarters and the total of your two highest earning quarters must equal one and one-half times the wages earned in your highest quarter. If you've only worked two weeks total in the previous five quarters, you won't qualify for unemployment benefits.

Applying for Unemployment

When you fill out your application for unemployment, you'll be asked for the names of every employer you worked for in the previous 12 to 18 months, depending on your state's requirements. The unemployment office will verify your employment and wages with this employer to determine if you meet the qualifications for unemployment benefits. If the office denies your claim, you have the right to appeal.

Resuming an Unemployment Claim

If you previously collected unemployment benefits, found a new job and worked only two weeks before finding yourself unemployed again, you may not need to file a new claim to resume receiving a check. You may be able to reactivate your previous claim, as long as you are still within your original benefit year. Your benefit year began when you filed your original claim for unemployment benefits. If you collect unemployment for three months, then work two weeks before again being unemployed, you can continue to collect unemployment until your benefit year ends. If any time is left in your benefit year, you must use up that time before you can file a new claim.

Exhausting Your Benefits

If your benefit year has ended, you'll have to file a new claim. You may or may not be eligible for further benefits, depending on your state's requirements. When you open a new claim, the state will look at the first four of the previous five quarters to determine your benefits. However, in many states, quarters that have already been used to determine benefits are excluded. If you don't have enough work history for the unemployment office to consider different quarters, you may not be able to collect more benefits. However, even if your benefit year has ended, you may still be able to collected additional benefits under federal provisions for extended unemployment. Your state unemployment office can help you determine if you qualify for these benefits.


Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.

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