Janice Reed
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Tips to make the unemployment process easier
Last updated: September 24, 2022
Janice Reed
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Tips to make the unemployment process easier
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If you are one of the almost 43 million people relying on unemployment insurance (UI) right now, you are not alone. Because of the #Coronavirus, almost 1 in 4 American’s are dependent on this source of income, and as a result, call volumes and applications have soared. And with new federal provisions in place, it can make a stressful process even more complicated.

Most importantly though, it has left people wondering where and when they can anticipate receiving the money they are desperately relying on.

To help ease the anxiety of the UI process, we’ve broken down key tips on the qualifications, required forms for application, ways to receive your claim, and how to best follow-up.

How Do I Know If I Qualify?

In March 2020, new federal law included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act greatly expanded unemployment insurance. Many workers who were not previously covered are now eligible as part of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The program provides support for Americans who are unable to work due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but do not qualify for traditional Unemployment Insurance (UI).

You may now be eligible if any of the following are true:

  • Your employer permanently or temporarily laid you off due to coronavirus measures.
  • Your employer reduced your work hours due to coronavirus measures.
  • You are self-employed and have lost income due to coronavirus measures.
  • You’re quarantined and can’t work due to coronavirus.
  • You’re unable to work due to a risk of exposure to coronavirus.
  • You can’t work because you’re caring for a family member due to coronavirus
  • In addition to expanding eligibility, new federal law also:
  • Increases the weekly benefit amount that states currently provide by $600, until July 31, 2020.
  • Provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits for people who are still unemployed after their state benefit period runs out

In some situations, if you quit your job, you might not be eligible to receive the new unemployment insurance. For instance, if you quit because you're worried you'll contract COVID-19, yet your place of employment is still open, you might not qualify. However, if you have to self-quarantine due to potential exposure, you should be eligible.

In almost all states, in order to collect regular unemployment insurance benefits, you must be ready, willing, and able to work.

How Do I Apply?

Preparation is key and it is important to apply immediately after being laid off or terminated from your place of employment. The best and most streamlined way to apply is online. If you do apply by phone, be patient and persistent given the high volume of recent applicants. It is best to be honest and direct with the Department of Labor worker and be prepared with a list of questions you want to ask. Start with the most sensitive questions first.

Make sure you have all of your necessary documents on hand and available. These include the following:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your driver license or Motor Vehicle ID card number (if you have either one)
  • Your complete mailing address and zip code
  • A phone number where we can reach you from 8 am - 5 pm, Monday –Friday
  • Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. Citizen and have a card)
  • Names and addresses of all your employers for the last 18 months, including those in other states
  • Employer Registration number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your most recent employer (FEIN is on your W-2 forms)
  • Your copies of forms SF8 and SF50, if you were a federal employee
  • Your most recent separation form (DD 214), for military service

You can file a claim without all of these documents. However, missing information can delay your first payment.

If you cannot print web pages, have a pen and paper to copy information.

If you choose direct deposit of your weekly benefits, you will need your bank routing and checking account numbers.

To speed our review of your claim, be sure to submit proof of your employment and wages. If you have no pay stubs, please send any documents you may have that can be used as proof.

What If I Have Filed & Haven’t Started Receiving My Benefits?

In most states, it takes 2-3 weeks to fully process and approve your claim. Due to #Coronavirus, the typical one-week waiting period has been waived.

If after three weeks, you have not received your first check or your claim is still pending, it is time to call your respective’s state benefit’s number and seek answers.

  • Before you call, make sure that you have all your necessary documentation at hand. If your claim has been approved, make sure to have your file or case number on hand as well.
  • When calling, be mindful that the holding time may be extremely long due to the high volume of applicants, but do not be discouraged.
  • Applicants should continue clicking, emailing and calling until they can file or get a verified status on their claims. Keep trying and eventually, you will get through.
  • Remember that you must certify weekly or bi-weekly that you are actively seeking a job and are ready, willing, and able to work. Did you remember to certify your claim within your claim window?
  • Be patient and persistent and try not to get discouraged. We know that these delays are extremely impactful to workers and their families and their abilities to make ends meet.

Ultimately, federal measures have been passed that have hugely expanded unemployment insurance benefits and coverage in the wake of #Coronavirus. And while it certainly can be a cumbersome process, you are entitled to your unemployment insurance.


Do you have a personal story about Unemployment Insurance or tips to share with the community? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Janice Reed
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April Lindsey Burgamy

Georgia unemployment doesn’t care!! I have been out of work 13 weeks( No fault of my own) and applied for benefits. I have NOT received a letter, email, money...NOTHING! I have called everyday and left messages NO CALL BACK ITS BEEN 13 weeks of calling! My online just tells me what I can receive weekly. I did everything I was ask and have claimed each week. We are in the middle of a crisis and this is how we are treated !! I have worked all my life to lose everything I work for because there under staffed! Top of all this I have lupus and it would be nice to be able to buy my medicine!

2y
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Hristina Popova

Hello,I am in the same situation ,today 14 July I called 17 times and I didn't got through , I filed my claim on April 5 2020, I still checking daily my status which is FILED with $0 amount ,four weeks ago I receive a letter from them with instructions how to claim benefits but I cannot claim benefits online if my dollar amount is $0 .Looks like I am eligible under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program . This program should provides support for us through the pandemic difficult time but so far it is not working on time .My last worked day was March 20 , on July 20 will be four months since I made any money .

2y
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Danielle McKee

I applied online back at the beginning of April. The site told me they could better serve me if I called. I called everyday for almost two months. One day was over 1000 times. Could never get anything but a recording. I finally got through to a person in June, while on the phone the representative told me he needed to call my old employer and verify his info, well two hours later another representative picked up. I filed my claim and it was back dated because they could see where I had attempted to file in April. Here it is July and my case is still under review and I still have not received anything. Utilities were disconnected right after the 4th, I am relying on friends for food and can't get to an interview because no gas. Not sure what else to do but beg the state for help and when you get someone you basically are told wait your turn. Any suggestions?

2y
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Diane Mach

I declined a different position offered to me by my employer at a casino due to medical reasons. They stopped my unemployment. They apparently are not honoring the fear of contracting covid as a reason not to accept a position. I’ve had no income for a month. I did appeal for non monitary issues and they haven’t looked at it

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Laura Mcmahon

What is certificate?

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