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Can I Renew My Unemployment Each Year?

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When you max out your unemployment benefits each year, you have to wait until your benefit year anniversary to refile the claim. You can renew your claim every year as long as you meet the requirements for state’s unemployment insurance claims. Most states require that you earn enough in your base year to meet the minimum threshold, but that’s hard to do if you were on unemployment the entire time. Some states also require a certain amount of earned wages or work hours during the weeks in between filing your new claim.

Understanding Benefit Years

Your unemployment claim is limited by benefit years. A benefit year lasts 52 weeks starting the week you file your initial unemployment claim. Your state sets a maximum benefit amount per benefit year, limiting your total claim amount to a percentage of your previous wages or a number of credit weeks. When you reach that threshold, your claim is closed. You can’t open the claim again until the new benefit year arrives.

Previous Wages Requirements

When you refile your unemployment claim after the new benefit year, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements a new claim would. One of the most overlooked requirements is the previous wage threshold. Your state requires you earn enough wages from insured work during your base year. Insured or covered work is work that falls under your state’s unemployment insurance laws. Your base year is the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before you refile for your benefits. If you were collecting unemployment with no insured work during that time, your refile will be denied.

Rework Requirement

Some states don’t allow you to refile an unemployment claim unless you’re worked in covered employment between your last claim and your new claim. If your state has a rework requirement, it won’t allow you refile unless you have earned a certain amount of money in between the claims. This is separate from the previous wage requirements because it applies specifically to the time between your two claims. The previous work requirement applies to the entire base period.

Requalifying Period

Some states require a requalifying period instead of a rework requirement. Like the rework requirement, the requalifying period must occur between unemployment claims. However, the requalfying period doesn't set a monetary requirement on your covered employment. Instead, you must work a certain number of hours in covered employment before you can refile your unemployment claim. If you’re unsure if your state requires requalification or rework, contact the state labor office for more information (see Resources).


Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.

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