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What are Unemployment Benefits?

People are required to seek employment in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
An employee that was fired for poor performance may not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
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Unemployment benefits are monetary benefits that some people can collect in the event they become unemployed through no fault of their own. They are regulated and controlled through governments and vary depending on jurisdiction and location. In the United States, these benefits began under the Social Security Act of 1935 and are regulated by the US Department of Labor. Most systems, including the United States', are designed only to assist people with basic needs while they seek gainful employment.

In many places, unemployment benefits are available only to workers who work under the status of an employee and compensation is based on the worker’s most recent previous income. Benefits are collected in the form of weekly monetary compensation that is often only a percentage of the individual’s former salary. Taxes are not generally withheld from unemployment compensation, although this can vary.

The qualifying factors for collecting benefits also vary with location and jurisdiction, but often require an eligible individual to have been previously employed for a specific length of time and to have become unemployed due to layoff or termination not related to individual job performance. Though a claim can be filed when a person is fired from their job, most systems permit the former employer to dispute the claim if the worker was fired for poor performance.

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In addition to meeting eligibility requirements for collecting unemployment benefits, workers are also required to seek employment and report the status of their search on a regular basis. There is generally a waiting period between the time employment is ended and benefits begin. In most systems, payments are only made for a specified period of time, though in many locations, extensions are permitted under qualifying circumstances.

Filing a claim for unemployment benefits entails contacting the unemployment office through the proper government entity. In years past, unemployed workers would have to wait in long lines to file their claim but the technological advancements of recent years enables most workers to file electronic claims either by telephone or over the Internet.

While many people view unemployment benefits as a type of welfare system, the premise is to provide temporary income to working class citizens who lose their job unexpectedly or under circumstances beyond their control. The system does not encourage workers to collect these benefits for long periods of time by providing only a portion of the income a worker has grown accustomed to. Most workers are therefore inclined to actively seek new employment to regain their full income potential.

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Discuss this Article

anon353913
Post 10

I've been working for the same company for 35 years. I took a career break for nine months because I'd put in a request for a transfer to a store closer to me as we moved to a new area in January 2013 and it was too far to travel to my old store.

Nothing became available in the nine months I've had off so I've now had to quit my job. I've been looking for a job locally with no luck so far. Am I eligible to sign on as I have been working for 42 years since I left school?

anon129835
Post 8

I've been at my job for the past three years and had to quit because where I was living the people bailed on me and the house got foreclosed on and I had to relocate. will I get unemployment?

anon122688
Post 7

I am eligible for unemployment and is soon to get benefits. If I get a part-time job, working 40 hours for two weeks instead of 80, making 3/4 less than what I used to, will I lose unemployment benefits?

anon108166
Post 6

can i still claim unemployment for a job that i had two years ago?

flower11
Post 5

Ive worked at my job for almost 10 years. Over the last three years, my work environment has been a nightmare. My boss is unbearable to be around.

There is a long list of many things my boss does that I know are not normal and should not acceptable. Sexual comments, humiliation, change in pay dates the same week we got paid with no notice. verbal and mental abuse, and much more. I am a single mother of two and need to keep my job. But don't know if i can handle it anymore. My blood pressure is high, headaches and insomnia. And there are three other girls who feel the same. Was wondering if I quit my job can I collect unemployment?

anon81771
Post 4

My employer created a hostile work environment wherein regular threats of dismissal, acts of humiliation and abuse were commonplace. Upon one such threat of dismissal, I walked out. Am I eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

anon76622
Post 3

I am killing myself for my job to stay there. But I've been in and out having surgeries done to stay there. None of these has been turned into workman's comp. because I told the wrong supervisor but the employees handbook does not say to call my supervisor at night. Now they are in bed, but I reported to another one. I've been though a lot of surgeries now and have a lot of medical bill too. What do I do?

anon67412
Post 2

i quit my job due to my medical reason. can i still apply for unemployment?

anon62257
Post 1

I was laid off from a job and applied for unemployment and was receiving it until I took a job.

the job did not work out, as my drive was a hour each way and the pay was nine dollars an hour for part time status, 32 hours a week. I was working full time, making 13 dollars an hour. My drive then was 15 minutes.

I am trying to reinstate my unemployment and now have to go to a hearing. Do I have a chance of getting my unemployment back? Help.

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