Employment Law -- Employee

How Long Does It Take to Get Unemployment? How Long Does Unemployment Last?

Unemployment is a needed resource when you lose a job or have your hours reduced by more than 50%. The process typically takes less than an hour to complete the application. Then it can take up to a week to verify your information.

The full process and expected timelines can include the following steps below.

Filing Your Claim: One Hour

To apply for unemployment you will need copies of:

  • Your weekly or bi-weekly paychecks
  • Your social security card
  • An email or letter showing you lost your job or are unemployed

However long it takes you to gather these items will add to your application time. Once you have these documents, the application should take under one hour.

Waiting While They Investigate Eligibility: One Week

A state's labor department usually needs a week to review your applications and documents and confirm that you are unemployed, but this time will vary. Your previous job also needs to reply back to them and explain why you are no longer working. This step can depend on how busy the staff is and how long your former employer takes to reply.

It is typical for this process to take 5-7 business days. Once you are approved, you will receive a letter, or your online status will change.

Application Denial and Appeals Process: One to Four Weeks

If you are denied for any reason, you need to call and clarify the denial. Sometimes it can be as a result of a filing mistake, or if you provided the wrong information. You have up to four weeks to file an appeal.

If your old job is the one filing the appeal (for example, if they are saying you quit when you claimed you were let go), you may be able to get benefits while this appeal is in progress.

Taking Your Unemployment Case to Court: Months

This process can be longer and involve one or more hearings, administrative appeals, and taking the case to civil court. You will likely need an attorney to fight your employer or to continue the appeals process, so this can become costly and take months.

Receiving Unemployment Benefits: One to 26 Weeks

You may be approved for benefits right away, but if not, you may need to fight for your benefits. Once you are approved, most states allow you to use unemployment for 26 weeks (about six and a half months).

Extensions for Unemployment Benefits: 20 Weeks

Some extensions are available through state programs or new legislative rules. The policies can also change due to unforeseen circumstances like your own illness or a bad economy. It is possible to receive an extra 20 weeks of unemployment benefits if your case meets the requirements.

How To See Your Weeks of Qualifying Unemployment

Use your online account or speak with your state's unemployment office to confirm how long you have benefits. You will likely need to check in with them periodically or prove you are job hunting throughout the 26 weeks.

If your benefits are cut off early, or you are continually denied benefits, you should consult with an attorney. An experienced attorney will be well-versed in the law and understand how to navigate the system more effectively and efficiently.