According to very recent news, the Unemployment Rate in the United States (as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) decreased to 7.20 percent in September of 2013 from 7.30 percent in August of 2013, with an increase in added new jobs of 148,000 in September, far fewer than the analysts expected, but enough to predict a revival, at least in the construction field (20,000 new jobs) and the interrelated house – market industry.
Even if in September fewer Americans decided to file for unemployment, these new numbers will change starting with November, as the recent governmental shutdown may have influenced the statistics of the last month. In truth, there are still many people out there trying to find alternative solutions to unemployment and facing financial problems. Just as Gus Faucher from PNC Financial Services told Voice of America a few days back, the modest job growth on the U.S. market and the slow recovery of the economy are still major problems to deal with.
Unemployment is a painful subject for people everywhere in the world. Maybe some of them know what’s coming and have saved some money to keep them on the surface until they get a new job. Others keep their eyes open to finding new job opportunities or spend their time studying the business trends. Others still simply file for unemployment, just to make sure. So if you happen to be laid-off, it’s better to start preparing your file and cash in your compensation fast. The major common items are similar from one state to another, but in order to make sure, check first with your state unemployment office to determine the best way to open a claim, as you can do it online or over the phone. However, there are some items you should always keep ready to present.
Before filing for unemployment compensation, you should know there are some eligibility criteria you should take into account. Most unemployment offices prefer the workers who have been laid-off or lost their jobs from reasons that cannot be traced back to their own personal fault or choices. Nobody says you can’t file for unemployment if you quit your job for a “good cause”, but there are some criteria which can label you as ineligible. Some of these are:
- You quit without good cause
- You were fired for misconduct
- You resigned because of illness (check on disability benefits within the Americans With Disabilities Act)
- Left to get married
- You were involved in a labor dispute
Personal Identity Checklist
In order to file for unemployment, you should provide some personal data including:
1. Full name (including maiden names or former married names – depends from one state to another)
2. Home and Mailing Address (if they differ from one another)
3. ZIP Code
4. Phone Number
5. Social Security Number (this is mandatory in every state and you will not be able to file a claim without having one)
6. Driver’s License number (if you have one)
Exceptional cases and supplemental documents
7. The alien registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen but still want to file an unemployment claim
8. The DD Form 214. If you’ve had an active duty in the U.S. military for a period of time of 18 months to two years (depending on the state), you will also need to file this form. If you need your military records / separation in order to file for unemployment, you can start HERE to request them online, by mail or by fax.
If you worked for the Federal Government in the last 18 to 24 months (depending on the state), you should also file:
9. The Information from Standard Form 8, you can download from HERE
10. The Standard Form 50, you can download from HERE
11. The W-2’s and/or pay stubs
12. TA-W or NAFTA-TAA petition number if you are covered under a TAA or NAFTA-TAA Certification
2. Employment History Checklist
1. A list including the names of all employers where you worked in the last 18 to 24 months (full company names, street address, city, state, Zip Code, phone number), including all the employers in other states if your worked in other states in that period of time. Make sure you also list your last (or current employer).
3. Motivation for not working with the last employer: reasons you left or reasons for the part-time / reduced schedule. Keep in mind that specialists state that the criteria to file for unemployment eligibility includes being out of work because of no fault of your own, so if you quit your job, the process might get a little complicated. However, you also have a chance to appeal a denial decision to your claim. You can read HERE more about the reasons of unemployment claim denial and the appeal process.
4. An updated record of your past jobs: you will need to provide the starting and the ending dates of each of your previous jobs
5. Employers’ Federal ID Numbers – for all the employers or the company you still work for in a reduced -hours agreement. You can find the Federal ID Number on your W2 form or pay stub.
6. Accurate listing of your earning with each employer: you will have to have at hand all your past financial employment data and documents as most states require you to give a brief accounting of wages you earned (including all of the employers listed above), and a description of how you were paid those wages (hourly, weekly, monthly basis).
3. Money Transfer Checklist
If your claim is going to be accepted and you will receive your compensations. In order to be prepared and not slow down the process, there are two cases to consider:
The direct deposit of your weekly unemployment benefits
Some states, such as Pennsylvania for instance, work very well with the direct deposit system. You should have and later provide the state authorities the following:
1. Bank name, street address, city, state and Zip Code.
2. Bank telephone number
3. Bank account number
4. Bank account routing number
The Debit Card system
You can also receive your compensation through a debit card and the unemployment offices will give you the information you need on how this system works and when you’ll receive the card, but before you file for unemployment, you should make up your mind for one of these two common paying systems.
It’s not a very complicated process to file for unemployment if you have all the data available to provide to your state Unemployment Office. Before getting ready to fill in the online form or to file by fax your application, make sure you have in your possession all the information required. Some people have a hard time finding their alien registration numbers, to correctly identify the employers’ Federal ID Number or to correctly fill in the special forms for military and governmental personnel. To save time and to avoid mistakes, here is what you should do first:
- read carefully all the instructions provided by the unemployment office where you file your claim;
- download the forms and read them carefully;
- keep at hand in an archived file all your employment records, including medical records, pay stubs, work contracts and any document that can support the information on working times and wages.
Have you ever filed an unemployment claim? Did you manage to provide all the data and documents? What other advice do you have for people filing for unemployment for the first time?