What is Unemployment Insurance?
Unemployment Insurance (UI) provides unemployment benefits, usually in the form of weekly payments, to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own, and meet certain other eligibility requirements. UI is administered jointly by the U.S. Department of Labor and individual states.
In March 2020, new federal law greatly expanded unemployment insurance. Many workers who were not previously covered are now eligible. You may now be eligible if any of the following are true:
- Your employer permanently or temporarily laid you off due to coronavirus measures
- Your employer reduced your work hours due to coronavirus measures
- You are self-employed and have lost income due to coronavirus measures
- You’re quarantined and can’t work due to coronavirus
- You’re unable to work due to a risk of exposure to coronavirus
- You can’t work because you’re caring for a family member due to coronavirus
In addition to expanding eligibility, new federal law also:
- Increases the weekly benefit amount that states currently provide by $600, until July 31, 2020
- Provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits for people who are still unemployed after their state benefit period runs out
Please note that each state implements the above policies within their own Unemployment Insurance program. Since the law has changed so recently, most states have not updated their information yet. But if you are eligible, or think you might be eligible, should apply now.
How do I apply for unemployment benefits?
First, select your state in the Unemployment Benefits Finder, and follow the links to find details of your state’s program. You’ll see information about how to file in your state.
If your state has specific information related to recent law changes, you will see a link to that information. Please note that states are currently updating their programs to respond to recent federal law changes. If you don’t see updated information yet, you should still apply. If you have already applied, then once your state updates their information you will receive your full benefits or be notified if your state needs more information.
Which state do I file in?
You should file your claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, contact the state unemployment agency in the state where you now live for information about how to file your claim with other states.
What do I do if I can’t get through to my state’s website or phone line?
Many state websites, phone numbers, and unemployment systems are overwhelmed by extremely high levels of traffic. State unemployment agencies ask that you have patience if you have trouble getting to a website or filing your claim. They suggest trying at different times of the day, and to keep trying.
What do I do if I have trouble completing my application?
Most state sites provide a list of FAQs to answer questions you may have including application issues, PIN numbers, and security questions. If you don’t see information about your specific problem, look for a phone number in your state to call.
What other resources can help me after a job loss?
A job loss can feel overwhelming. Visit Worker ReEmployment for financial assistance and other resources.
Learn more about how to use the Unemployment Benefits Finder
What does this tool do?
The Unemployment Benefits Finder helps you learn how to file for Unemployment Insurance in your state.
Each state has different filing requirements: many require you to file online and some provide toll-free telephone numbers or other ways to get help. When you select your state, you’ll find website links, phone numbers, or other available information including any updates related to the coronavirus or new law.
Where does this information come from?
Unemployment Insurance (UI) program data is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.
Who can I contact for help?
For help filing for unemployment benefits, please follow the help instructions on your state’s unemployment insurance website. For help using the Unemployment Benefits Finder, contact the CareerOneStop Service Center firstname.lastname@example.org. For general questions about Unemployment Insurance, call
1-877-US2-JOBS(1-877-872-5627) or TTY 1-877-889-5627.