Since unemployment benefits aren't guaranteed, you must submit an application to your state's labor office. Once it reviews the information, you receive a determination by mail. The determination explains whether you meet the minimum eligibility requirements and how the labor office calculated your benefit amount based on your information. If you believe your determination was calculated on false or misunderstood information, you can protest it by filing an appeal. At the appeal hearing, you can present evidence to contradict the reasons given by the determination.
Unemployment benefits are only for claimants who are unemployed for reasons not attributable to themselves. This means that if you separated from your job for reasons you caused, your unemployment claim will probably be denied. The labor office contacts your former employer to verify the details surrounding your separation and then makes a determination. If you or your employer feels the determination is wrong, you can file an appeal.
Another snag in the unemployment approval process is whether you qualify financially. Your state labor office looks at the wages you earned as a covered employee during your base period. The base period is the first four of the last five calendar quarters before you file for unemployment benefits. Each state has its own eligibility requirements, so you should check with your state's labor office for the current requirements (see Resources). However, if you receive a determination that doesn't include all of your covered wages, you can protest the determination.
Some states use credit weeks to determine how many benefit weeks you can collect on unemployment. When your state labor office reviews your base period earnings, it notes which weeks you earned the credit week threshold amount, and you receive the same number of weeks on unemployment. When you receive your determination, you should review the number of benefit weeks you've been awarded. If you believe you earned more credit weeks, you can protest your determination and provide evidence of your past earnings.
Availability and Ability to Work
The purpose of unemployment benefits is to provide temporary relief while you find another job. To collect your benefits, you must be able to work and available to work. When you apply for benefits, the application asks you whether you're physically unable to work. It also asks you if you have some reason you wouldn't be available to work, such as attending school full time. If your determination denies benefits based on this information, you can protest it by showing proof of your availability and your ability to work.