How Does Unemployment Benefits Work?

Eligible individuals that become unemployed due to some reason get the unemployment benefits temporarily unless they find a new job. It gets provided by the US Department of Labor. The Federal Law has created the same guidelines for every state in the US. But, every state implements a different unemployment benefits program. According to the benefits, the eligible individuals get paid an amount ranging from 30% to 50% of their salaries. In most of the states, these programs pay for at most 26 weeks to an eligible individual. Let’s know how does unemployment benefits work.

How Does Unemployment Benefits Work?

How Do They Pay For The Benefits?

The employers must pay for the unemployment benefits in taxes to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) and state taxes. The employers that pay taxes on time can get a concession to the payment. The employers that do not pay taxes on time must pay quite more like debt.

The states can borrow from the US Treasury without thinking of the national budget. But, they must return the debt within three years. Even here, the borrowers that do not repay on time must face increasing tax rates until they return all the amount.

During the better economic times, the Federal Trust contains much balance, but the states can use it only to pay for the fundamental objectives of the Unemployment Benefits. Some states make the employers more if their turnover is more.

Eligibility For Unemployment Benefits

The workers that follow the following conditions are likely to get the Unemployment Benefits:

  • Every state has a different implementation method. This program mainly focuses on the workers that have no fault in getting unemployed. So, some states might not help the workers that left the job on their own. They must get terminated. They must have a valid reason for getting laid off. The workers that worked on contracts or got fired due to misconduct are not eligible for the Unemployment Benefits.
  • Some states require the workers to have work experience of the minimum prescribed period, while some require the workers who had received a minimum of specified salary.
  • The students and the workers that left their previous job voluntarily, have no work experience, are self-employed, or are undocumented are not eligible for the Unemployment Benefits.
  • Some states require the workers to prove their job search, while some states relax this rule if they are going through a training program.
  • Some states offer job opportunities to the workers, and if they refuse to take the job, they get no benefits. Thus, Government representatives must make sure that the offered work is according to the work experience, education, skills, and other worker preferences.
  • Low-wage workers have fewer chances of getting the benefits due to their unsteady income.
  • The State Government is also less likely to offer the benefits during better economic times.
  • Some unemployed workers do not need the benefit because they can survive on the income of their family members.

Applying For The Unemployment Benefits

The following are the steps for applying for the State Unemployment Benefits:

Visiting The US Labor Website

The unemployed workers can visit the US Labor website to find the eligibility criteria according to the state where they stay.

State Employment Insurance Program

Immediately after getting unemployed, unemployed workers must contact the Employment Insurance Program of their residential states. Different states have different criteria related to the unemployment period. If the workers fit in them, they must claim for the benefit.

Providing The Details

The workers will be asked to provide most of the details related to their previous employment, such as employment dates, contact details of the employers, and income.


The benefits come along with the taxes. But, most states do not ask the workers to pay taxes. If a state does not do so, the underlying workers can try getting away from the tax by filling out and submitting the W-V4 voluntary form.

Staying In Touch

The US Government receives lots of applications for the benefits. Thus, the workers have a right to ask them politely regarding their application status. They might have to call multiple times. It gets applied to the situations created by the pandemic.


The lucky workers might receive their first check after at most three weeks. If the workers get involved in part-time or temporary jobs, their salary must be less than the benefit to get it.


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act is a monetary policy to stimulate the economy in response to the economic crisis caused due to Covid-19 Pandemic. CARES Act provides Weekly Benefit Amounts (WBA) and additional assistance to eligible unemployed workers. This Act also goes hand in hand with the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initiative to offer unemployment benefits for a maximum of 13 weeks. Thus, CARES Act focuses on providing maximum flexibility to the employers (for reimbursing) and the workers. The workers with no or minimal work or termination history can look for this Act.

Effects Of Unemployment Benefits

The following are the positive effects of Unemployment Benefits:

  • The workers that got the Unemployment Benefits could find higher-paying jobs.
  • The Unemployment Benefits offered more extended benefits to the minority, females, and the workers with less education.
  • It improves a match between the employers and the workers because the workers could find matching jobs. It is required because the pandemic has hit the economy and employment hard.
  • These benefits have reduced the aggregate poverty rate.

The following are the side effects of Unemployment Benefits:

  • There is no complete evidence that the workers find the matching jobs according to the Unemployment Benefits.
  • Some unemployed workers that need the benefits but do not fit into the guidelines might not get them.
  • Some receivers of the benefits use a part of the amount to pay their debts.
  • The workers staying in the states offering higher Unemployment Benefits get high-paying jobs, but those staying in the states providing lower Unemployment Benefits generally get low-paying jobs.
  • Unemployed workers might stop searching for jobs if they find benefits better than actual job hunting. Some might even turn the job offers down to stay unemployed and enjoy the benefits, whereas some might survive with a fear of getting inappropriate employment.

Unemployment Benefits Frauds

Unemployment Benefits Fraud occurs when the individuals provide incorrect details to get the benefits. Some individuals might do it intentionally, while some might do it by mistake.

Some Rules For Claiming The Benefits

The following are some of the rules for claiming the benefits:

  • Working individuals that want to enjoy the Unemployment Benefits must report their earnings and the number of hours they work each week after applying for the benefits.
  • They must continually report their availability, acceptability related to work, and efforts to search for work. They will get the benefits only when they prove that they are actively searching for a job.
  • Some individuals might opt to wait for the first payment to report their wages and presence at the job. This mistake must get avoided by providing correct details right after getting back to work.
  • Individuals expecting the benefits are legally righteous to clear their doubts about the benefits to save themselves from committing fraud.

Fraud Detection

State Government can detect the frauds such as working while enjoying the benefits through the following methods:

  • Quality Assurance and Benefit Payment Audits.
  • Obtaining reports from the state-level, national-level hiring, and Department of Labor Fraud.

Consequences Of Unemployment Benefits Fraud

The following are the consequences when someone commits fraud related to the Unemployment benefits:

  • The individuals might not get the Unemployment Benefits and tax refunds in the future.
  • They might get prosecuted by government authorities and might even land in jail.
  • Pay the amount collected from the benefits with penalties.

The unemployment benefits play a vital role during economic downturns such as the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the program also requires financial help to help others. The workers must not only rely on the benefits because getting them is not an easy task. They must look for every possible way to cut the expenses, save money, and keep earning. The government must set more limits to benefit enjoyment. However, it must remember that the limits must be set only for the welfare of the individuals and the nation.

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What Are The Different Programs Against Covid-19?


Different Unemployment Programs undertaken in America are:

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Extended Benefits (EB)
  • Unemployment Insurance (UI)
  • Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program
  • Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE)
  1. How To Stop Unemployment Benefits After Getting Back To Work?


Workers that get back to work must report on the very first regarding their employment. Some State Agencies keep sending the benefits until the workers stop them personally, whereas some stop sending if workers do not respond to them within a certain period. Workers that get paid unnecessarily must report the State Agency. If the State Agency finds ineligible workers enjoying the benefits, the workers might face punishments according to the Unemployment Benefits Fraud section mentioned above.

  1. What Other Benefits Get Offered By America?


The other benefits offered by America to its citizens are as follows:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps)
  • Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
  • Division of Indian and Native American Programs (DINAP)
How Does Unemployment Benefits Work?

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