The first thing you have to do to receive unemployment benefits is to file a claim.  You will not receive the benefits if you do not file your claim.  Each state has a certain way or place to file for unemployment benefits.  Please see your state’s particular rules in the back of this book.  You can use this information to contact offices for more information.

Items to Bring

When you file for unemployment, you will be required to bring certain information with you. If you have documentation concerning your employment and previous checks, bring this information as well.  The laws mandate that you keep good records and not that the unemployment office has to get the information for you.  On your first visit to the Unemployment office, you should bring:

  • Your Social Security Card.  If you do not have this available bring something that contains your social security number such as your W-2 or previous year’s tax return.
  • Your green card.  If you are not a citizen of the United States, you must bring your green card.
  • Your Layoff Notice.  If you were laid off, bring any information that you have regarding your layoff..
  • Information about former employer.  You need to bring the employer’s contact information such as address and telephone number.  Be prepared to answer question about your employment such as when you began working for them and your last date.
  • Any information that details your work history.  You will also need to name former employers over the past recent years.  Bring a list containing this information.
  • Labor Union information.  If you are affiliated with any union, bring the contact information for them such as address and telephone numbers.
  • Pension and Social Security Benefit information.  If you currently receive one or both of these payments, bring any documents you have to your meeting with the Unemployment Personnel.
  • Dependent Information.  If you live in a state that provides dependent benefits, bring their information.

You may not be asked for most of this information.  The reason to bring it is that if you are asked to produce the information, you have it available at the first meeting.  You will not have to make another appointment or send additional information to Unemployment Personnel which will delay the decision regarding your unemployment benefits.

Next Steps

After you leave the Unemployment office, Unemployment Personnel will contact your former employer.  They will begin to send more information to the employer about your earning and length of tenure.  Once the documentation returns, the Unemployment Personnel will sort through the information to come up with what happened and then make a determination on your unemployment benefits.  It typically takes two to three weeks to render a decision.  They will mail you the decision and also your former employer will receive a copy.  You may not receive information that you have been approved for unemployment benefits and benefit information in the same envelope.  You may receive one first and then the other.

Once you are approved for benefits, it is up to you to stay in contact with the office as much as you are instructed to do.  If you do not, you may see a delay in benefits or full termination depending on the reason for not keeping in contact with them.

If you are not approved for unemployment benefits, you will have to make a case to try to be approved for benefits.  We will now discuss your plan of attack if you are denied unemployment benefits.