As long as your employer pays into the state's unemployment program, you are eligible to collect unemployment benefits if your employment ends due to no fault of your own. Even if you quit your job, you may still be eligible to receive benefits. However, you must be able to prove you had a good cause for quitting. The exact definition of “good cause” varies by state. It can best be described as a situation where, if under the same circumstances, most individuals would also quit.
Calculate Your Income
Calculate your base period earnings to determine if you earned enough income to qualify for unemployment benefits. This includes the 15 months leading up to your unemployment. In most cases, it is the first four of the last five calendar quarters. The exact amount of wages needed during this period varies by state. To determine the requirements in a specific state, contact the local unemployment securities commission or the agency charged with dispensing unemployment benefits. Even if you are unsure if you meet the minimum requirements, it's okay to apply for benefits just to be certain.
Apply For Unemployment Benefits
Submit an application for unemployment benefits to the employment securities commission or other appropriate agency. Most agencies now accept applications online through the official website. The application will ask for information about your employment history and base period wages. You will also be required to specify the reason you are unemployed. It's acceptable to say you quit due to circumstances beyond your control; it's unnecessary to go into details on the application.
File Weekly Claims
Start filing your weekly claims as soon as possible. In some cases you can do this before you are approved. Follow directions carefully and don't procrastinate on submitting weekly claims, otherwise you may miss out on collecting money you are eligible to receive. To file a claim, simply report that you are unemployed and actively looking for work. In most cases, benefit candidates file claims on a specific day of the week. Check with your employment securities commission to determine which day applies to you.
Prepare For An Interview
Prepare for an in-person or phone interview with an unemployment benefits representative. You will be notified in advance of the interview time and date. Have details about your work history and other pertinent information available.
Refrain From Emotion
Refrain from expressing too much emotion. When asked why you quit, tell the interviewer the exact reasons such as a medical condition or domestic violence. Perhaps it was a hostile work environment that you had complained about repeatedly to no avail. Maybe a superior made sexual advances or harassed you. Advise the interviewer of any supporting documentation of events leading up to your resignation because you may be asked to mail or fax these documents.
Wait For Confirmation
The interviewer will speak with your employer and determine if you qualify for benefits. You will receive a determination letter indicating approval or denial. If you believe you have been wrongly denied benefits, follow the steps outlined in the agency's appeal process.