Unemployment Insurance(UI): Eligibility requirements and filing

Unemployment insurance(UI) is a social security program that provides temporary financial assistance to persons unemployed through no fault of their own, typically due to lack of work. Anyone unemployed through no fault of his/her own-and who has been duly discharged from his or her most recent work-is typically eligible for unemployment insurance.

In this post, you find what UI is, the eligibility requirements, and how to file a claim. It will also explain details about the amount you can collect and what happens if your application is denied. The information in this article should help demystify a topic that many may find confusing at first.

What are the eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance?

You may be eligible if you meet all three requirements: You must be unemployed; You must meet certain wage and work history requirements; and You must live in an insured state. If you are married , your spouse may also qualify for benefits with some conditions.

The following are the general eligibility requirements for applying for unemployment insurance:

  • You must be unemployed.
  • You meet the minimum work requirements.
  • In addition, you must have earned and reported a “substantial” amount of wages in the base period.

The amount varies by state and industry, but usually is at least $1,200. In most states, you also need at least $400 of that amount earned in the last quarter. (In some states, you need to earn all your wages for the base period in the last quarter.)

How to file for an unemployment insurance?

You should file for unemployment online. The general procedure to filing unemployment online is as follows:

unemployment insurance

1. Search the state where you are applying for benefits;

2. Select the category of benefits that you are qualified for;

3. Enter your wage and work history details;

4. Submit your application;

5. Then, confirm your application information by clicking on “I Accept”.

How long does the unemployment insurance filing process take?

The number of days it takes to process your unemployment insurance varies from state to state. However, it is generally four to eight weeks from the date of submission, but can take longer or shorter depending on a number of factors.

Related Post:

What is a base period?

The base period is a specific 12-month section out of the last two years used to determine your qualification for unemployment benefits. Below are some examples.

Example 1: You were employed from March 2010 through August 2011. Your coverage period is the 12 months from March 2010 through May 2011. You need to earn at least $1,200 in wages ($400 in each of the 12 months out of this period) and no more than $1,200 (every year) for a total of at least $3,400 to qualify for unemployment insurance.

Example 2: You were employed from January 2009 through June 2010. Your coverage period is the 12 months from January 2009 through June 2010. You need to earn at least $1,200 in wages ($400 in each of the 12 months out of this period) and no more than $2,400 (every year) for a total of at least $3,000 to qualify for unemployment insurance.

Example 3: You were employed from July 2006 through December 2007. Your coverage period is the first year that you would qualify for UI (usually the 12 months from July 2006 through December 2007). You need to earn at least $1,200 in wages ($400 in each of the 12 months out of this period) and no more than $1,200 (every year) for a total of at least $3,400 to qualify for unemployment insurance.

Example 4: You were employed from January 2006 through December 2007. Your coverage period is the first year that you would qualify for UI (usually the 12 months from January 2006 through December 2007). Here, you need to earn at least $1,200 in wages ($400 in each of the 12 months out of this period) and no more than $2,400 (every year) for a total of at least $3,000 to qualify for unemployment insurance.

What are the benefits of filing unemployment insurance?

The benefits that employees receive when filing for unemployment can include:

  • Case management – Help with a range of services including budgeting and job searches;
  • Fixed income – A fixed amount of money paid each week, no matter how much you make;
  • Job search assistance – Assistance with looking for a job; and  -Other public benefits.
What other options are there besides unemployment insurance?

In addition to UI benefits, employees may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation and workers’ compensation disability.

What about filing unemployment insurance for a military?


Unemployment benefits are offered to workers regardless of whether they were working in the private or public sector. Though some states require you to have worked in the state within a specific period of time, most military members who are stationed out-of-state can apply for benefits.

Final lines,

Thus unemployment insurance replaces part of the income workers lost due to unemployment and provides job search support, particularly for disadvantaged workers. Moreover, the eligibility requirements and filing process will vary from state to state. You can apply online or in-person at the benefits office of your state’s Department of Labor or Employment Security Commission.

So, if you're unemployed, meet certain wage and work history requirements and live in an insured state, you may be eligible for filing unemployment insurance.

​(See the Legal Services Corporation, which administers many state programs, for specific eligibility requirements in your state.)