A dreaded question that so many of us have had to ask. Getting fired is no fun, and it may lead to many questions. How will I pay my bills? How does unemployment work? When do you qualify for it? And can you get unemployment if you are fired?
Unemployment benefits may seem confusing and overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with the stress of having just lost your job. Your job will affect so many other aspects of life: buying groceries, filling your car with gas, paying your bills and rent, and many more. You must start to take stock of these things as soon as you become unemployed, whether you quit, retire, or get fired.
This may be a scary time for the many Americans who don’t have a hefty emergency fund or savings account ready to go. Start by taking a breath, collecting your thoughts, and making a list of priorities and tasks for getting back on track.
The following info may help if you’ve recently been fired. Read on to learn more about whether you’ll qualify for unemployment benefits ahow it all works.
How Do Unemployment Benefits Work?
Unemployment benefits, sometimes called unemployment insurance, is a government benefit that provides partial wages to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
This program, officially titled the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program, was created in 1935 amidst the Great Depression. It was intended to assist unemployed individuals while they continue to search for work.
You usually must meet several qualifications before you’re eligible to receive benefits. The requirements will vary depending on the state where you live. You can find out more about the specific requirements in your state by calling your local unemployment office or visiting their website.
While the specific requirements will depend on your state, you will usually qualify if:
- You’re unemployed through no fault of your own — This means you were laid off, or maybe the company went out of business. If you quit your job, you likely won’t qualify unless it was because of unsafe conditions or another valid reason. If you’re fired, you might still be able to qualify, unless it was for gross misconduct or willful misconduct like breaking the law or company policy.
- You meet the specific qualifications in your state — receiving unemployment benefits will largely depend on the particular rules in your state. Many states have requirements that you can only collect unemployment benefits if you’ve worked at your previous job for a set amount of time. Some may require that you’ve made a set amount of money at that employer before you can qualify. Check with your local unemployment office to find out.
- You’re able to work, and you’re looking for work — Some states may require that you search for work while receiving unemployment benefits. You could potentially lose your benefits if you turn down a job offer while collecting unemployment.
Can You Collect Unemployment Benefits If You’re Fired?
So the short answer to this question is that it’s possible. The more in-depth explanation depends on the exact circumstances surrounding your termination.
If you’re laid off because your position has been eliminated, your department is being eliminated, or the company is going out of business, you will likely qualify for unemployment benefits. Suppose you were fired because you broke the law or the terms of your company code of conduct. In that case, you might not be eligible to receive unemployment compensation.
If you have recently lost your job and think you’re eligible for unemployment, your first step is to apply. You’ll need to visit the website for your local unemployment office and fill out specific information related to your wages, finances, and past employer.
If your claim is accepted, they will let you know more about your weekly benefit or monthly benefit, your weekly benefit amount, and how long you can collect benefits.
It’s also important to note that even if you do receive benefits, they won’t last forever. Which is why it’s crucial to figure out how to live without a job, while you search for your next one.
What Should You Do If You Can’t Receive Unemployment Benefits?
If you’re a former employee ineligible for benefits, either due to gross misconduct, serious misconduct, breaking company policy, or not meeting the unemployment qualifications, you might not receive benefits.
If this is the case for you, you’ll need to determine your next steps. And you may need to figure out how to make money without a job for a while. Here’s a good checklist if you’re in this situation:
- Take stock of your financial situation — Figure out how much you have in your checking account, add up your savings, and plan your budget for the next month or two. Do you have enough to make your money stretch for a while? If not, you’ll want to start applying to jobs immediately.
- Figure out what type of job you want — If you’re in a challenging financial situation, you may want to throw a wide net in terms of applications. Part-time, full-time, contract work, it’s wise to apply for anything you may qualify for to increase your chances of landing a job quickly. Make sure to research plenty of options, like jobs where you work independently.
- Reach out to contacts — Talk to family and friends to see if they have suitable opportunities for you. Many people find jobs through former coworkers, family members, or friends who work in the same field.
The Bottom Line with Unemployment Compensation
In summary, unemployment insurance exists to help people who have lost their jobs while searching for a new one. But it’s usually only offered to former employees who weren’t responsible for the job loss.
The bottom line is that you will probably be eligible for unemployment if you lose your job through no fault of your own.
You always need to confirm with your local unemployment office what the requirements are for having your claim approved. The application and approval process can take a while. The unemployment office will need to review your information, calculate benefits, and make a final decision. So make sure to file a claim immediately following your termination.
If you don’t qualify for unemployment insurance, you should start applying for jobs immediately. This will reduce your time without income. If you have an emergency fund, now is the time to use it. But landing a job quickly can cut down on how much of your savings you have to use.
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How Does Unemployment Work? | WSJ