Unemployment benefits, also known as “unemployment insurance,” is a program run by state governments to help support citizens who have recently lost their jobs via temporary cash assistance. This comes in the form of a weekly check in the mail or direct deposit, based on the amount you were earning previously and how many people depend on you for financial support.
The money comes from taxes that businesses pay the state government each paycycle on behalf of their employees.
You’ll need to check the eligibility requirements in your state, which can be found here.
Because of COVID-19, self-employed workers and gig workers are newly eligible for assistance, so pay close attention to any updated materials.
After filing a claim, those who are eligible can receive assistance for usually up to 26-weeks, but this has increased an additional 13-weeks because of COVID-19.
As long as you are following the rules of the program, which are specific to each state, the money will not have to be paid back. You will be required to pay a tax of 10% on the funding, which you can choose to have withheld from the check or to pay while filing your annual state/federal taxes at a later date.
Please note that it is illegal to file a claim for unemployment benefits if you do not meet the requirements. If caught, you face a penalty of even more than the amount received in assistance.
Complete the quiz at the top of the page to be directed to your state's online benefit application.