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Can You Claim Unemployment If You Worked One Day?

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Unemployment benefits provide compensation for employees who have lost their jobs. Each state manages their unemployment compensation programs and institutes their own eligibility criteria and claims filing processes. The states may receive federal funding when the country is experiencing a high percentage of unemployment. In most instances, the amount of unemployment you receive is determined by how much you earned in a base period leading up to your initial claim filing.


Every state has different criteria for unemployment eligibility. Your state will review how much you earned in the base or specific period leading up to your initial unemployment claim filing. If you only worked one day and then file for unemployment, your state may deny your claim due to not earning enough to qualify for unemployment. Other eligibility factors include how you lost your job. If you were fired or quit, you will likely not be able to collect unemployment benefits.

How to File

Regardless of how long you worked at a company and why you left your job, you can still file an initial unemployment claim. Each state will allow you to file an initial claim several ways. Many individuals choose to file claims online through their state’s department of labor or other agency that handles unemployment. You can also file by telephone, either by speaking to a representative or using an automated telephone system. The state will notify you by mail of its decision on your claim.


All states allow the opportunity to appeal if your unemployment claim is denied. It may be hard to prove your case if denied due to lack of income because you only worked one day. However, it is worth your while as special circumstances may allow you to collect. For instance, if you got hired, reported to work and the company announced it was closing the next day and laying everyone off, you may get approved. Follow the appeal directions listed in your claim notification letter.

Bottom Line

If you only worked one day and lost your job, you probably will not be able to collect unemployment compensation. You should still file an initial claim with your state, as you do not know if extraordinary situations will allow you to collect. Also, if you received unemployment compensation on a prior claim during the base period, went back to work one day and filed a second claim, you may be able to reopen the initial claim or still have benefits available during the base period.


Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.

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