Most working Americans do not expect to become unemployed, so they do not know what to do when it happens to them. Unemployment insurance is designed to provide financial aid to workers that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, generally due to layoffs or business closures. It is important to understand some basic facts about unemployment insurance so you will know what steps to take if you unexpectedly become unemployed.
Who Is Eligible?
To receive financial aid through unemployment insurance, the worker must prove that they are eligible by meeting certain qualifications. The worker must have recently become unemployed through no fault of their own, so a worker fired for repeatedly being late to work would not be eligible. The worker also must be physically able to work and be actively looking for work to receive payments under unemployment insurance.
How Much Money Is Provided?
Unemployment insurance only provides a portion of the person’s former salary. It is intended to be a bridge between jobs, not a replacement for working. While each state may use slightly different calculations to arrive at an amount, the average amount is roughly half of the worker’s previous income with an income cap of about $70,000. In many states, the worker can receive payments for up to 26 weeks, while a few states have a 28 or 30-week limit.
What Can The Money Be Used For?
The money distributed through the unemployment insurance program is intended to help workers pay for their housing, keep their utilities on, and feed their families while they are looking for a new job. There are also other programs available to help, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and utility-based programs that reduce the amount low income individuals must pay for their utilities. A quick search online can show you what types of programs are available in your area.
While unemployment insurance will not replace your entire income, it will relieve some of the financial pressure of not having a job and a regular paycheck. This lifeline has helped millions of families stay in their homes and remain fed while the primary breadwinner searched for a new job. Most people find a new job before their benefits under the program have expired, but if they do not, there are other state and federal programs designed to help them find or train for a new profession.