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What is unemployment insurance?

UPDATED: January 10, 2011

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Unemployment insurance, also known as unemployment benefits or state unemployment benefits, is a type of temporary insurance coverage that is given to individuals who have lost their jobs. Unemployment is generally required by state laws, and the employers in a state must pay into the unemployment insurance fund based on the size of the company that they operate and the number of employees that they have. These funds, assessed through taxation, are kept and administered by the state Unemployment Compensation Bureau, who will then give out the funds to qualified candidates who have become unemployed.

Understanding Unemployment Insurance

As an employee, you are generally not required to pay for unemployment insurance and your unemployment insurance benefit coverage is will be based on whether you worked enough hours during the quarter prior to losing your job, as well as on the reason why you were terminated. If you are fired for cause or quit, for example, you may not generally get unemployment insurance. If you are laid off or downsized, you will generally be entitled to unemployment insurance benefits.

Unemployment Insurance Benefit Terms

The length of time that unemployment benefits run is mandated by state and Federal law, and was recently changed because of the bad economic situation in America at the beginning of 2011. In most cases, you can receive up to ninety- nine weeks of unemployment. Unemployed workers who wish to receive unemployment insurance benefits must apply for it through their state unemployment agency and must meet certain criteria such as:

  • Deadlines for application.
  • Notification to the state that they are looking for work.
  • The possibility of paying back the benefits if they work under the table while receiving them.

Each state has specific laws about how to get unemployment insurance benefits that must be examined in individual circumstances.

Getting Help

If you have concerns about your right to unemployment insurance benefits, consult with an experienced lawyer for help and advice. 

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