Whether you've filed for unemployment through your state's website, by phone, through the mail or in person, it takes some time for your application to process due to the research your state has to do to verify your claim. While you're waiting for your money, you might wonder how you'll know if you get approved or denied. Tracking your claim status is usually as easy as viewing your claim online or calling your state's unemployment office. Eventually, your state will let you know via letter about the claim decision along with any further action needed from you.
Understanding the Unemployment Claim Process
When you complete your unemployment application, your state asks for comprehensive information about why you've become unemployed and what your employment history looked like. This involves listing all your jobs for the last 18 months, disclosing your earnings and any other income sources and declaring that you expect to be able to work in the future.
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Your state will use this information to make sure that your work status, wage history, reason for unemployment and other circumstances make you eligible for benefits through your regular state program or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. They usually contact your employer to verify the information provided. You might also be asked to do a phone interview to answer any questions about your claim.
You'll usually receive a monetary determination letter soon after filing and a decision letter within two weeks unless some dispute occurs and slows down the process. These documents often come through the regular mail, but states can also offer electronic versions through their unemployment websites. However, be warned it might take longer for your state to make a decision due to many applications coming through due to COVID-19. Although, states such as Maryland and Arizona have both recently sped up processing unemployment claims.
Checking Your Unemployment Application Status
While you'll eventually know whether you've gotten approved or denied when your state sends the decision letter, you can usually visit your state's unemployment website to track your claim status at any time. You'll usually log in to the portal using information such as your Social Security number or a user name along with a personal identification number or password. You'll often see a link to view your claim on the portal's main page. If you'd rather not use the website, you can call your state's unemployment benefits hotline during business hours.
When learning your claim status, it will often be "submitted," "accepted," "pending" or "denied." If accepted, you usually get your money within three days if you use direct deposit, but a paper check can take a few more days. Often, there was a one-week waiting period before getting the first payment, but many states have waived it due to COVID-19. If denied, you can contact your state's unemployment office for more information and potentially appeal the claim.
What to Expect After Approval
When you start receiving benefits, you'll need to find out what your state requires of you so that there's no break in your claim or suspension of benefits. At least, be prepared to file a claim weekly or biweekly to report any money you've received through any work you do. States normally have requirements to register yourself as available for work and apply to jobs weekly to keep getting benefits. However, check with your state since many have more lenient policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, as the U.S. slowly starts to open back up, some states including Texas are already requiring claimants to actively look for work, and Florida will require claimants to register for work beginning on June 13, 2020.
Handling a Denial
If you've gotten denied, it could be due to some simple mistake your application or concerns about your eligibility. For example, you might have gotten your employer's information wrong, or your employer might have disputed the reason why you lost your job. Your state will usually give you a time frame during which you can file an appeal and present evidence to back up your claim. You can also expect an unemployment hearing that often takes place by phone.