How Do I Receive Unemployment Insurance?


If you’re out of work through no fault of your own, you’re eligible to receive unemployment insurance. Is there anything unbiblical about receiving benefits? Providing you complete all paperwork truthfully and abide by the rules mandated by your state, there’s certainly nothing wrong with receiving benefits that you’ve helped to fund through the normal paying of your taxes. Here’s a brief overview:

Am I Eligible?

Unemployment Insurance benefits are administered by individual states and each has slightly differing rules that govern your eligibility. However, all states use what is called a base period calculation. The base period is the first four of the last five quarters you worked. The last three months before you lost your job aren’t considered.

If you were let go from your job through no fault of your own, you may be eligible. If you were fired for cause or quit, you’re probably not eligible. If you left for certain reasons–to care for a sick relative, for example, you can file an appeal to attempt to become eligible.

Most states have a requirement that you made a certain amount of money in that period. For example, maybe your monthly income had to be at least $1,600 in one of the months in your base period. To learn more about the requirements, visit your state’s Department of Labor website here.

You have to be physically able to work, agree to continue looking for a job, and possibly other requirements as your state mandates.

How do I Apply?

Simply find your Department of Labor website and file online, over the phone or at an office. You’ll need documents like all of your personal identifying information, past employment data, driver’s license or state ID if you have one, and citizenship status.

If you were a government employee or active military personnel, you may have other documents requirements.

Once you complete the application, the state agency will consider your eligibility and contact you.

Other Considerations

Consider these realities:

  • Unemployment insurance isn’t designed to completely replace your income. You’ll likely receive a fraction of your previous income.
  • Each state pays a different amount. Florida’s maximum payout is $275 while Washington pays a maximum of $637.
  • The federal government may extend the benefit period in times of nationwide economic hardship.
  • A claim year is defined as 52 weeks but you’ll only receive benefits for 13 to 26 weeks depending on state laws.

What if I Need Benefits Longer than my State Allows?

Once you reach your maximum, you can’t receive additional benefits. Some exceptions exist in rare circumstances┬ábut expect benefits to run out and plan accordingly. Other state agencies might be able to offer some assistance. Food stamps, cash assistance and private grants might be options.

Unemployment Insurance and Tithing

Your unemployment insurance benefits are income. You have to pay taxes on your income and be sure to tithe. If you’re in a season of joblessness, God wants you to trust Him for the answer. He also wants you to honor His word by tithing 10%.

This is also a great time to surround yourself with your church community. Serve at your church, let them know you’re believing God for a job, and watch what happens when you let your church family stand with you during this difficult time.