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What Happens If I File a Late Unemployment Claim?

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When you are unemployed due to no fault of your own, you may qualify to receive unemployment benefits. To receive benefits, your previous employer must pay unemployment insurance premiums. Each state has a specific protocol employees must follow to file for unemployment benefits. Generally, there are two types of claims you should file, the initial claim and weekly claims. If you delay filing either type of claim, your benefits check will be affected.

Late Initial Claim

In order to receive unemployment benefits, you must file an initial claim with the state's unemployment commission. This should be done as soon as you are unemployed. If you wait to file the initial claim, you can lose benefit money, especially if your state does not issue retroactive payments. A retroactive claim payment pays you from your first missed day of work, regardless of when you file the initial claim.

Late Weekly Claim

Once you file an initial unemployment claim, you must start filing weekly claims immediately. This should be done even if you are still waiting for an approval for benefits notification. By filing your weekly claims, you ensure that you are paid for each week after the initial claim is filed. If you fail to file a weekly claim, you miss benefits for that week. If you file a weekly claim after the weekly cut-off date, you will still receive your benefits, if filed within a specific amount of time, which varies by state. However, the benefit check may be delayed until your next scheduled check issuance.

Base Period Affected

To qualify for unemployment, you must earn a specific amount of money during your base period. The base period is the first four of the last five calendar quarters. The money earned during your base period is used to determine your monetary benefit amount. The longer you wait to file an unemployment claim, the greater your chances of having decreased benefits, based on your base period calculations. The base period is not affected by filing late weekly claims. It is only affected when you file a late initial claim.

Filing A Claim

Each state unemployment commission has a specific protocol for filing weekly claims. Generally, you call the claims hotline on an assigned day of the week, enter your Social Security number and answer questions about your weekly job search. Depending upon the state, you may also be able to file a claim online, through the unemployment commission or department of labor website. The exact agency name varies by state.


Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and "Truth & Church Magazine." Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.

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