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How long do you have to work to get unemployment benefits?

The ability to claim unemployment compensation will depend on a “base period”, a required earnings amount and having a no-fault job termination.

The ability to claim unemployment compensation will depend on a “base period”, a required earnings amount and having a no-fault job termination.

Unemployment compensation programs vary from state to state but generally an employee must have worked for 12 months before they are eligible to claim benefits. In order to qualify for out of work financial support, a worker must have lost their previous job through no fault of their own.

The state unemployment agency will use a “base period” to determine eligibility, during which time an individual may need to meet a minimum earnings amount which varies by state. The employee may also need to meet state requirements for hours worked during the same time period, among other factors to be eligible for benefits.

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Base period to claim unemployment benefits

The level of compensation and the length of time that a worker can claim unemployment benefits vary widely across the US. However, employees generally need to work for 12 months in the state where they want to file a claim before they will become eligible to receive out of work payments. This is referred to as a “base period”, usually defined as the first four of the last five completed quarters.

For those with multiple employers, generally there is no set length of time that he or she must work for any one single employer. However, some states do require a minimum amount of time at any one single job in order for it to count toward the time worked requirement.

Other requirements to qualify for unemployment

Unemployment insurance programs are federal-state joint ventures with funding coming from unemployment taxes on employers by both. The system is not uniform across the US, every state follows some similar general guidelines, but benefits, and restrictions to access them vary from state to state.

All states require that an worker became unemployed through no fault of their own. States may set other restrictions to what dismissals qualify a person for unemployment compensation. Not all workers can claim unemployment insurance compensation in normal times. States can choose the eligibility criteria, such as the type and duration of prior employment.

Some states require that a worker filing for benefits who had multiple jobs, that each one lasted more than 30 days for example. Each state also sets a minimum amount of wages earned during the “base period” to qualify for jobless aid.

Work search requirements

Most states have a work search requirement, where a person receiving unemployment benefits must be actively looking for a new job. Again, each state determines what qualifies for their work search requirements. Failure to meet this requirement could result in losing further weeks of benefits.


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