What Is Unemployment Based On?

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Quitting a job without specifically allowed cause disqualifies you from benefits.
Quitting a job without specifically allowed cause disqualifies you from benefits. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Bills don't wait just because you lose your job. The mortgage, utilities and car payments still come due with serious consequences if you don't pay them. In many cases, you can receive weekly partial compensation through unemployment insurance. Unemployment benefits last for a specified time period or until you get a new job, whichever happens first. Unemployment benefits are based on several factors, including the reason for job separation.

Who Pays It

Unemployment is a state managed insurance program, in which premiums are paid by employers. Several factors go into premium calculations, including size of the company's payroll, number of job terminations without cause and amount of past premiums. The rate is re-evaluated every five years.

Eligibility

Each state has its own laws regarding unemployment compensation, but typically your job loss must be due to no fault of your own. In addition, you will not be eligible if your position was at a church or for a government agency, which are both exempt from covering employees with unemployment insurance. A job loss due to layoff, lack of work and closure of workplace are examples of reasons unemployment would be granted.

What It Pays

Your weekly payout depends on the money you earned during the qualifying base period. You will fill out an application for benefits, then the unemployment administrators will calculate your benefit amount based on specific quarters during the last year. If your income varied significantly during the specified base period, your weekly benefit amount may be more or less than you expected. Each state also sets a cap on the amount you can receive regardless of how much you were paid at your last job. For example, those receiving unemployment compensation in Tennessee in 2011 could receive no more than $275 per week. Oregon has a cap of $496 per week.

Keeping Benefits

Typically, to continue receiving your weekly benefit check, you must be able to work, actively seek employment, send out resumes and attend interviews you are invited to attend. There are exceptions, including your job separation being due to a temporary layoff or strike.

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