Persons who are temporarily out of work due to circumstances beyond their control can apply for unemployment benefits. Eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined by several factors, which include prior earnings, difficulty or inability to get new work and your availability. Specifics on these requirements may vary from state to state, but the general common circumstances under which you may be eligible for unemployment benefits are covered below.
In order to qualify for unemployment benefits, you must show previous employment that you acquired within 1-2 years and that you lost your job through no fault of your own. Some of the circumstances beyond your control that may have led you to lose your job include; layoffs, staff downsizing, being fired due to a limitation of skills, or quitting your job due to extenuating circumstances.
In the state of Florida for example, you are required to prove that you worked in the state during the past 12 to 18 months. You would also need to prove that an employer had paid you within the previous two or more months. The requirement to prove previous employment is in order for the program to ascertain that you are willing and ready to accept gainful employment, but you are having difficulty getting a job.
Most states analyze your previous work history and earnings in order to determine if you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. In the state of Florida, your past earnings are categorized into a “base period” (which is most often a one year period) and the base period is split into 4 quarters (therefore you'd have 4 separate 3-month quarters if the base period is one year). During the base period, your previous earnings must have met 3 conditions:
You must have received wages during at least two of the 4 quarters during the base period.
The amount of wages that you earned during the entire base period should be at minimum 1.5 times the wages that you earned during your highest paid quarter. For example, if you earned $3000 during a certain 3month period of the year, your total earnings for the whole year must have been, at a minimum, ($3000 x 1.5) = $4500.
Your minimum wages during the entire base period must have been $3400
Preparedness to Work in the State
In order to receive unemployment benefits, most states require you to be willing and ready to work in the state. Florida qualifications require you to document your on-going job searching activities in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits. In fact, the program is often referred to as the Reemployment Assistance Program because its primary purpose is to provide you with temporary resources to enable you to regain meaningful employment.
During the application process, you will be continuously asked what your intentions are. You will have to demonstrate that reemployment will be your top priority during this process.
Continue to Maintain Unemployment Eligibility
Once you have been approved for unemployment benefits, you are responsible for continuing to maintain your eligibility to continue to receive these benefits. Eligibility criteria include continuing to remain unemployed and earning less than the minimum of your wage bracket. You also need to show that you are consistently available for fulltime work within the state and that you are maintaining your effort to seek work according to the guidelines of the program. As a member of the unemployment benefits program, you are also required to follow all the rules and procedures necessitated by the program administrators.
In the state of Florida, if you do not claim your unemployment benefits on time, you may be denied further eligibility. Therefore, claiming your benefits on time, continuing to show your active efforts at gaining new employment, and following program guidelines are crucial towards maintaining your unemployment eligibility.
How your Unemployment Benefits are calculated
In order to arrive at your weekly benefit amount, your total earnings from the highest paid quarter of the base period are divided by 26 (up to a current maximum of $275 per week). Once your weekly benefit amount has been calculated, you can continue to receive these benefits for 12- 23 weeks (the duration of receiving the benefits is based on Florida’s current unemployment rate).
How Disability Experts of Florida can help
Unemployment can be a very stressful time for you and your family. Not having a steady paycheck can lead to anxiety over how the next month’ bills will be paid. The experts at DEF can help. With over 100 years of combined experience, we know how to navigate the SSA’s application process and we can help you prove your unemployment eligibility in order to receive the benefits that you deserve and that will keep you going during your job search.