Unemployment compensation benefits are weekly cash payment to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Unemployment compensation benefits last six months or longer, depending on economic conditions, or until workers find new work. Unemployment compensation benefits create a safety net for laid off workers and are considered one of the most efficient means of stimulating a distressed economy. Following the great recession, for example, federal stimulus  funding helped states extend unemployment compensation payments for up to 90 weeks.

The federal government created unemployment compensation benefits in 1935. Employers fund unemployment benefits through a tax on payroll. States administer unemployment compensation benefits, under guidelines established by the federal government. 

To qualify for unemployment compensation benefits or insurance, employees must typically work a certain amount of time for any employer during the year or two before their employment loss, and earn a certain amount from their most recent employment. If qualified, employees are entitled to unemployment benefits or insurance, with certain exceptions. Those exceptions, known in some states as “disqualifying reasons,” include voluntary resignations and terminations for cause. 

Unemployment compensation benefits provide some cash when needed most, but not a lot of cash. The maximum weekly unemployment insurance payment in most states is between $400 and $600.

To receive unemployment insurance, employees must be able to work and looking for work. Most states have “anti-fraud” units to prevent employees from receiving benefits when they are not eligible, and to recover benefits from employees who received benefits when they were not eligible for them.

Articles (10)

Severance Pay can reduce Ohio Unemployment Compensation Benefits
Severance pay in Ohio can reduce or eliminate an employee's unemployment compensation benefits for the weeks that the severance pay is received. If an employer pays severance pay in a lump sum, the Oh... applies to Ohio

Overview of the Constructive Discharge Doctrine
A constructive discharge describes an employee's decision to resign because the employer made the terms and conditions of employment so miserable that reasonable people would resign. Under those circu... applies to All States

Who should have to pay back overpaid Unemployment Benefits in North Carolina?
The majority of contested NC unemployment benefits cases we handle involve the following situation: The Claimant (former employee) files for unemployment benefits. The Employer gives the Division of E... applies to North Carolina

Can I still be fired if I already resigned.
Most employers want employees to give them a two week notice before resigning. Sometimes, though, employers accept a two week notice immediately, in effect firing employees two weeks before the employ... applies to Ohio

Severance Package
A severance package describes the pay and benefits an employee receives when involuntarily separated from a company. Severance packages are voluntary in the United States, so employers do not have a l... applies to All States

Questions and Answers (963)

Can one obtain unemployment if the past company they worked for did not pay into unemployment
Worked for a nonfor profit daycare for two years and the company did/does not pay into unemployment insurance but I found a new job that does pay into unemployment, but then got laid off from that, th... applies to Indiana  ·  0 answers

Do I get 14 weeks unemployment payment or full 26 weeks after my 12 weeks of severance?
I work in Rhode Island. My location is closing Dec 31st and I will be getting a severance package of 12 weeks paid. It will be paid each week like my normal check. They have said to apply for unemploy... applies to Rhode Island  ·  0 answers

How can they tell me no matter where I work and get laid off for the next year I can
I took the buyout Jan. 1 2007 Since then I have been employed with company and worked over 7 months and was laid off..I applied for Unemployment and was paid for 4 weeks and now Unemployment is saying... applies to Ohio  ·  1 answer

I received a severance package for 28 weeks which is longer than normal unemployment benefits. Even after the 28 weeks I have been unable to secure a job. Will I then be allowed to file for unemployment?
I received 28 weeks worth of severance pay in a lump sum. I assumed I would be able to get a job in this period. Unfortunately this hasn't happened. I never filed for unemployment. Being that unemploy... applies to Florida  ·  1 answer

My husband owns his own company. if he lays me off, can I receive unemployment?
My husband is laying me off due to lack of funds to pay this position. Can I claim unemployment? He has paid into unemployment. applies to California  ·  0 answers

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