What Do You Need to File Unemployment?


When you file your initial claim for unemployment, you’re providing information to the state so it can determine your eligibility. The process takes about 30 to 45 minutes and you can complete it over the phone or through the claims website. During the application, the state asks you questions about your eligibility, including your identity and work history. You need your Social Security number and your work history details to apply. If you’d like to have your benefits direct-deposited to your bank account, you also need your bank account information.

Social Security Number

In nearly all cases, you can’t file an unemployment claim without a Social Security number. Your Social Security number serves as the reference number for your claim, and the state can also verify various pieces of information by running your Social Security number through its databases. The only exception to this is for non-citizens who have the right to work in the country. These claimants have to provide their alien resident number instead of a Social Security number.

Work History Information

Unemployment benefits are based on your previously insured work, so your state needs to know your work history for the previous two years. This information helps the state determine your eligibility and your compensation amounts. You need the names of your previous employers and their contact information. You also need your employment dates, your salary and the reason you separated from those employers.

Dependents Information

Some states offer an additional stipend for each financial dependent you have. The definition of a dependent can vary by state, so check with your state’s unemployment division for the specifics that apply to you. However, in most cases, the dependent must be a non-working spouse or minor child. If your state allows dependency benefits, you need the name, date of birth and Social Security number for each dependent you’d like to claim.

Bank Account Information

As states move away from delivering benefits by checks through the mail, more offer a direct-deposit option. Having your benefits direct-deposited is quicker and less risky than receiving benefits by mail. If you’d like to receive your benefits this way, you have to provide your banking information to the state. You need your account number and the bank’s routing number to receive direct-deposit benefits.

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