General Question

lbwhite89's avatar

How does unemployment work?

Asked by lbwhite89 (1208 points ) January 12th, 2011

My fiance got let go from his job this morning. As you can imagine, this is devestating to someone who just got on his feet with his own place and has no money saved up. He’s already started a job search full swing, but in the current economy that may take awhile. So, he’s going to the unemployment office today to see if they can help until he finds a new position. However, I’m not sure at all how this works (neither of us have ever filed for unemployment), so I thought you guys could help me out with a few questions.

1.) What exactly is the process once you get to the unemployment office? Do you have an “interview” of sorts, fill out paperwork, etc?
2.) Do they base your unemployment income on your previous income, what you pay out each month, or is it a standard amount?
3.) If he’s accepted for unemployment, how long does it usually take to kick in to where he starts getting checks?
4.) Do employers look down on those who collect unemployment? Will he have an even harder time finding work because of it?
5.) MOST IMPORTANT: What makes you qualify for unemployment?

He was let go from this job because they said they hired too many people and couldn’t afford it, so they fired all employees hired in the last three months. He was 3 days away from completing his 90 day probationary period, which resulted in a $1.50 pay raise. He held his last job for 8 months before voluntarily leaving for this job because the pay was better, so there was no gap between in employment. However, his last job was through an employment agency, so I’m not sure if that matters. We’re worried he’ll get denied for unemployment because of this situation. What do you think?

We’re both terrified he’ll lose his house (he rents) and he has nowhere to go. We don’t know where to turn.

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11 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s based on his income and how long he worked prior to being laid off. Did he work for at least 12 months? Most states tend to be easy to get benefits, so don’t worry about that too much. And no one that I know of looks down on people who have been paid unemployment. It’s not something an employer can tell unless the person worked for them.

lbwhite89's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe He hasn’t been unemployed since 2008.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

He should be able to get the max benefit would be my guess. There may be a slight time limit he has to be out of work before he can begin drawing benefits, like two weeks. He goes down to the labor department, fills out the application, and they verify the info with his employer. He should qualify for benefits, unless he was let go for a reason related to his conduct. Doesn’t sound like that’s the case here.

lbwhite89's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Two weeks sounds reasonable. He still has a check coming in on Friday, but it won’t be for much because he missed a day due to inclement weather. Thanks for your help.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@lbwhite89 If you have any other questions as you work through this you can pm me any time. Most states take good care of the unemployed workers, but it’s a state government you’re dealing with, so the process can be a little tedious. Good luck

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

1.) What exactly is the process once you get to the unemployment office? Do you have an “interview” of sorts, fill out paperwork, etc?

You generally don’t have to physically go to the office as the forms are online – though after you file you’ll probably need to call and talk to an actual person to clarify eligibility and such – plan for this initial filing to take up to half a day.

2.) Do they base your unemployment income on your previous income, what you pay out each month, or is it a standard amount?

It’s based on your highest paid income quarter out of the last 4. So if you made 40,000 for the last year, you’ll get 10,000 for the next 26 weeks (about half of what you were making give or take.) However the cap amount is $405 weekly. So even if you were making $200,000 – you’ll only receive $405 weekly.

3.) If he’s accepted for unemployment, how long does it usually take to kick in to where he starts getting checks?

They will make you use up any left over vacation or sick days if the company he was working for pays those out upon termination, then there is a “waiting week” where you claim benefits, but they ignore you, then they start paying out the next week you claim.

4.) Do employers look down on those who collect unemployment? Will he have an even harder time finding work because of it?

Unemployment insurance isn’t a negative, but long-term unemployment can be if you don’t put in what you’ve been doing with yourself in the gap – eg volunteering, etc.

5.) MOST IMPORTANT: What makes you qualify for unemployment?

Being out of work through no fault of your own, you must be actively looking for work and you must not have worked more than 4 days in the last week.

Other thoughts)

After you file for unemployment, the file is good for one year. Every week you’re unemployed you need to “certify” that you’re still unemployed by answering 5 or 6 questions. This can all be done online and the weekly certification takes about 5 minutes tops. There are numerous extensions beyond the 26 weeks of basic unemployment, but I hope that your fiance does not need to understand this more intimately than that.

row4food's avatar

Unemployment is there to help you. Some of the money that is deducted from your paycheck is actually paid toward Unemployment Insurance. That’s exactly what it is, insurance. If you work, you pay into it and are eligible to receive help. I graduated in 2007 and have been on unemployment twice. When I first lost my job, I had no idea what unemployment was. I got all set up with them and I was able to keep my apartment and do things I used to do on a scaled back level. The government doesn’t want people to lose their livelihood.

In NY there are no UI offices so all claims are made on the phone. They ask for all of you previous work info. The state looks back at your last 18 months of income and will determine your weekly check based on that. In NY the maximum you can get per week is $405. I think it is up to %60 of your salary.

Once you apply, there is a waiting period of at least one week. It gives them time to review your claim. At the start of each week, I log into the unemployment website to certify my claim. There are a bunch of questions they ask to find out how much you are owed. For instance, I got a part time job where I worked 2 days a week. I lost half of my benefits, but I was getting a larger paycheck.

There are requirements. If they send you a letter to request you come in to Career Central or One Stop Employment offices, you have to go. You have to keep a record of all of your job searching and interviews. You have to do this or risk losing your benefits. So as long as you prove you’re not taking advantage of the money and actively looking for work, you’ll get your benefits.

Since your fiance has had steady work in the last year, he should get his maximum benefits. As long as he does everything they ask of him, they won’t deny him benefits. It’s not going to be easy financially or emotionally. You can support him by keeping a positive attitude. Encourage him to network. There are lots of free events where he can meet people in his field. There are job fairs and many resources at the One Stop offices. There are more and more job openings now. I was out of work for a year the first time and this time 3 months – I start a new job tomorrow.

Also, @JeanPaulSarte gave an excellent answer

lbwhite89's avatar

Thanks for all the replies. I live in South Carolina and I was told that if he wasn’t employed by this company for over 90 days, he’ll have to wait 8 weeks to get the benefits of unemployment. Does that sound like it could be true, even though he hasn’t been unemployed for over a year?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@lbwhite89 In NYS the benefits are charged against the employers account for the last twelve months, so he would qualify for benefits regardless of who he worked for. I can look in SC’s website if you need to verify that.

iamthemob's avatar

@lbwhite89 – What they told him sounds like a standard that makes sense. Unemployment is, in many ways, a reward for attempting to be stable. If you’ve had several jobs, you’re not really building up employer good will. Even if you move for good reasons between jobs, we all know the saying “Last in, first out.” By staying at a job for a while, you’ll be more safe during layoffs. So, if you were at your last job for a short time, and there was a simple general layoff, the assumptions may be (1) you moved to that job, and therefore should understand the risks, (2) if you were let go without cause, there wasn’t anything you did that could prevent you from getting another job, and (3) you were recently looking for a job and therefore are equipped to do so well now, and may even be able to utilize some former contacts well. So, before giving you unemployment, they want to encourage you to take advantage of that…etc.

There are a lot of factors that determine a state’s UI policy. Start the process now, and you’ll be able to take advantage of it when you can.

YARNLADY's avatar

First, do not follow any advice that tells you not to file. No matter what reason you are given, it is all speculative, and designed to keep people off unemployment. The only person who can deny you benefits is the unemployment agent, and they have a much better knowledge of the rules than any friend or internet participant.

The entire filing and waiting process is designed to keep people off the rolls, and protect the taxpayer from fraud. It is designed to give you maximum frustration. Practice patience, and don’t be discouraged.

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