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Unemployment compensation is temporary financial support for workers who are out of work. If you are laid off or if your position is eliminated, you may be eligible to receive benefits. Often, employees who are laid off will receive severance pay. Severance pay is a one-time payment to more or less cushion the blow of losing your job. Receiving severance pay is not a bar to receiving unemployment benefits. However, you must report the severance pay when you apply for benefits.
Gather your income and employment documentation. You will want to have the amount of your severance pay, your last day of work, your last employer's contact information and the reason you lost your job. Much of this information may be included in the severance letter from your employer.
Apply for unemployment. In most states, you can apply by phone or online. Answer each question truthfully and completely, as willful misstatement or omission of facts is considered fraud.
State the amount of your severance pay. The unemployment application will ask whether you have received severance payments. Answer the question accurately.
Look for your determination letter. The state agency that administers unemployment will send you a notice of award if you are eligible for benefits. If it determines you are not eligible, it will send you a letter to that effect. If indeed, you are eligible to receive benefits, it is likely you will begin receiving checks in a matter of weeks. If your state is backlogged with claims, during periods of high unemployment, for example, your first check may be subject to delay.
Severance is not a bar to receiving unemployment benefits because it is typically paid in a lump sum. If you continue to receive payments from your employer after your separation date, your benefits may be reduced or eliminated during the period in which you receive those employer payments.