What you need to know about filing for unemployment

“How do I file for unemployment?” That’s the question a lot of people are asking nowadays. And with these uncertain times, we wanted to prepare you with what you need to know about unemployment benefits.

It differs by state

Filing unemployment is always done at the state level. That means that the process differs depending on where you live. If you are in Texas, it looks different than if you are in California.

So what do you do? We got you covered! The website careeronestop.org, which is funded by the Department of Labor, has a section where you can simply select your state and it will give you all the necessary links.

The state selector on careeronestop.org, sponsored by the Department of Labor.

It’s an extremely helpful tool, and it will save you a lot of time.

Simply click here to use the tool.

It’s isn’t forever

Unemployment is temporary. The number of weeks varies. For instance, New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Ohio each offer 26 weeks, while Florida and North Carolina offer 12 weeks. Use the state finder above see what your state offers.

It’s true that during the Coronavirus pandemic those limits were extended, but that’s the exception and not the rule. Make sure you check the most up-to-date information to make sure you’re making the right assumptions.

It’s income

Unemployment benefits ARE considered income. That means any money you receive must be reported on your income taxes. This is important, because you don’t want to get hit with a bill from Uncle Sam at the end of the year.

Find more from the IRS here.

Be meticulous

In July of 2020, the state of Texas announced it was working to try to recoup over $32 million in “overpayments.” That affected 46,000 people. It’s for reasons just like that that you want to keep meticulous records of your filing, as well as proof of your income that you based your claim on.

Many times there is an appeals process, and you want to be prepared to show why you received the money you did. That’s especially important because there can be fines and interest levied on repayments.

In addition, you will need to keep a record of your search for a new job. Even if you are being rejected, you need records to show that you are making a good-faith attempt at finding work again.

Avoid scams

Filing for unemployment is always free. Any person, website, or service that asks you to pay them to do it is ripping you off. While the process does take a little time, it is not overbearing and can be done in a single sitting.