Understanding Unemployment

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

I was recently laid off from my position as an Accounts Payable Clerk and my severance package is just about to run out. I was offered 2 months’ pay after the layoff, and I have been living off that while looking for a job. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find gainful employment and now will be filing for unemployment. How do I go about filing for and obtaining unemployment benefits?

Dear, Moving Forward,

Thank you for the great question. It can be a difficult time maneuvering your way through a layoff and coming to terms with what your future may look like. After you have exhausted your severance package or if you were not presented with a package, you may feel like you are up the creek without a paddle. Try your best

to remain calm. You do have the option to receive unemployment for up to 99 weeks if necessary.

Every state has a different process and procedure as to how you go about obtaining these benefits. Most states allow you to file a claim right from your own home or wherever you have access to the internet by completing an online application. If you do not have this type of access, you will want to visit the state’s unemployment office or see if you can file over the phone.

Be prepared with specific information that may be asked by your state’s representative. Each state varies on their requirements, but a few pieces of key information are listed below.Discouraged_Job Seeker

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Telephone number
  • Former employer’s name
  • Former employer’s address
  • Former employer’s telephone number
  • Employer’s Federal Identification Number. (located on your pay stub)
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Employment start and end dates
  • Compensation amounts, typically just your wages
  • Grounds of your release or termination of employment

After you have submitted the initial application and are approved, you will be given the option to reapply for aid each week. Funds are typically paid to your bank account, via check, or sent to a debit card.  Select whichever method of payment fits your situation the best.  If you choose direct deposit to your bank account, be sure to submit a voided check to verify your routing and checking account numbers.

Job HuntingMore details and information about filing for unemployment in your state can be found visiting your state government’s unemployment office.

My final piece of advice is to not stop your job search! As a matter of fact, some states won’t continue sending you checks unless you prove you have applied to jobs each week. I will be writing an article soon on what you should do while you are unemployed to increase your chances of landing a great job. Stay tuned for this post. In the meantime, I have a quick video I’d like to share with you that synopsizes this post.

Readers! Have you had to file for unemployment benefits? Share with me your experience and how you are overcoming adversity.

Thanks and I look forward to your comments!


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anna
    Jan 22, 2013 @ 19:05:37

    Just a suggestion when applying for unemployment, document…document…document. Clarify numbers to fax, etc., and get the name of the person you speak to. Mine was a nightmare, then had to appeal where the appeal letter and paperwork ended up, (maybe in bungfoo Egypt), with them replying “it wasn’t in by the deadline”, which it was. Neadless to say, no bennies for this sister, lost in translation land. Maybe look at it as “a legal endeavor”, which it sort of is!


  2. Dorothy
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 15:53:07

    When I couldn’t find work after being laid off 1 year ago, I emailed my contact list offering to trade work in exchange for room rent.
    (Also, I trade house, plant or pet-sitting in exchange for places to stay.)

    I have been happily trading since February. I live solo, so I put my stuff is in storage while I travel to different counties in California and have been having a great time!!!!

    Although it is hard to keep traveling around, I have enjoyed myself and feel good that I have skills to offer that so many others need.

    Looking forward to getting back to work and renting my own place again. In the meantime, my rent is only $70.00 per month for storing all my stuff!!!!


  3. Trackback: Understanding Unemployment « My Blog
  4. Don
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 19:45:39

    I was unemployed from January 2011 through January 2012 and on unemployment. First and foremost, no matter what the politicians say, you are not going to get rich on unemployment. In my case after 28 years in my production support job the money I got from unemployment came to $20,000 a year on an annualized basis. That is not enough for a family to live on; you will need a real job and soon if unemployment is the only money you got coming in. I was able to register for unemployment, fill out the necessary paperwork, and verify (“certify”) weekly that I was still unemployed (but searching) through the phone or on the web. There were times I had to go into the unemployment center for my area to clear up some issue that affected my unemployment compensation amount. One thing I learned is that it is NOT going to get better just because we send out reams of applications and resumes. I found that just the opposite worked best for me: I found my new job by going after jobs with a targeted resume that I could honetly say I had the skills, expertise, and experience called for in the ad without being over-qualified. Finally, remember that many jobs advertised are in low paying professions with a lot of applicant competition for those jobs. Someone with many years of experience who applies for one loses out to younger, cheaper workers every time!


  5. Tiffany Lieu
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 14:40:50

    After being trained by US Census Bureau in 2009 as an office clerk, I applied for unemployment insurance the following year. The Census trained me for six months before laying me off, and I was called back the second time that lasted another month. It was long enough to qualify for unemployment insurance. I found that out later. I received couple of hundred of dollars each month until they cut me off months later. I had to call the 800 or 888 numbers to get through then. It was awfully busy. Instead of trying to reach only the English speaking numbers, I tried other language numbers as well. Conveniently, I had a chance during my job search to find out that CCSF was recruiting students for their clerical accounting certificate program. So, I decided to go back to school. Later while still in school, unemployment insurance contacted me offering to let me continue receiving more benefits. The second round of benefits reception lasted couple of months before I was cut off again.


  6. Terri
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 12:23:52

    I agree with the above post. Staffing services seem to talk a big talk, but rarely come through these days. I believe they should be honest up front when dealing with you in their initial interview. When it comes down to it, I believe you are better off using your own resources to look for work. Employers seem to have more respect for you if you are not going through an agency. Just my opinion though. If you google job web sites, quite a number of them will come up. For instance, Indeed.com. One suggestion though, if an ad pops up asking if you want to further your education, do not put your information in there. If you do, you will receive non stop calls from call centers trying to get you to pay for education.


  7. Michael
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 08:38:33

    Anita, I’ve been unemployed since January 2011 after being laid off for the second time in 3 years. As of the beginning of August, my unemployment benefits have run out and now life is very scary just trying to survive. I keep a spreadsheet of jobs I apply for and literally apply to at least 20-25 positions per week. I have over 25 years of customer service experience between retail and call center positions. Everyone keeps telling me things will get better, but sometimes its hard to believe it unfortunately.


    • anitaclew
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 08:54:37

      Hi, Michael:

      I am sorry to hear of your hardship but keep your head up! There is light at the end of the tunnel. I suggest that you go visit my friends over at Select Staffing. Go check out their website at http://www.selectstaffing.com and fill out an application. I know many people who have been successfully placed in many types of positions.

      Best of luck in your job search!


      • Michael
        Oct 02, 2012 @ 09:02:42

        Thanks Anita, I appreciate your help. I’ve already visited four staffing services in the past 3 months with no success. It feels like I am “just a number” to them since I’ve received no help in even getting an interview. I understand that I’m not the only one out of work and going through this, but I would have thought that I’d receive more help from places like this that specialize in job placement. Its very frustrating :-(.


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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