My Unemployment Says I Have a Break in My Claim: What Does That Mean?

There are certain requirements to continue to get unemployment benefits.
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Qualifying for unemployment means you can get a certain number of weeks of benefits depending on your state. However, getting regular payments requires that you meet your state's requirements to avoid a break in your claim. If you see your claim status saying that you have a break in your claim, this usually means you didn't complete at least one or more of your biweekly or weekly claims. It can also mean that you filed too late during the benefit period or that there's some error with the state's unemployment processing system.


Requirements for Continuing Unemployment Benefits

To keep receiving your state's unemployment benefits, you have to follow state guidelines and processes. Although waived in some states due to COVID-19, work search activities are a common requirement along with being able to return to the workforce. Further, your state has a reporting process you have to follow on a weekly or biweekly basis where you update them on your status. This means filing continued claims to get any benefits owed during that period.

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Your state will have you answer questions about whether you worked, how much you earned and whether you enrolled in school. You'll usually also report on any new job offers and money received from sources like a pension, severance or vacation pay. Your answers help determine whether you meet all the requirements to get a payment that period as well as how much the state owes you.


Your state will specify a deadline during the filing week when you must have submitted your claim. While you may have the whole week to do so, some states give you a particular day and timeframe and possibly a backup day in case you miss the original one. If you submit it late or forget to do it at all, you can end up with a break in your claim.

Effects of Break in Claims

When you have a break in your claim, you usually won't get unemployment benefits for that period if you didn't certify at all or certified after the allowed time in your state. This can mean having to reopen your unemployment claim in order to receive benefits for future weeks during which you qualify. However, if you did file on time and the problem came from a system issue processing your claim, you should still get your payment eventually once the state fixes the issue.


If you just forgot to file once, you may get the chance to receive your payment late if you work out the situation quickly with your state. Some states give you some leniency when it comes to missing a single claim. Often, you'll fill out a missing claim form that a representative at your state's unemployment office will examine and pay you if you qualify.

Regardless of what caused your break in the claim, reach out to your state's unemployment office as soon as possible to find out more about the issue and learn of your next steps.


Reopening a Broken Claim

If you're still partially or fully unemployed and you still have some remaining time for receiving benefits, your state will usually have you reopen the claim immediately. The exceptions are if there's a provision to file late or the problem happened due to a system error.

You'll usually find the application on the unemployment website for your state, but you can often also complete the claim reopening process over the phone or through the mail. You'll want to be sure to specify that you want to reopen an existing claim versus file an initial one.


Once you get started reopening your claim, you'll find that the application asks for the same kinds of details as your initial application. You can expect to provide information that verifies your identity and address, share your past employer information and prove your work status. You'll also need to provide information about any work you've performed while you had a break in the claim. You can track your claim reopening request online, and you will receive some correspondence once the state decides.