Do I Qualify for Unemployment Insurance?

There are things you need to know before you apply, and steps you must take after filing your claim for unemployment insurance benefits.


The Unemployment Insurance program provides benefits to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who are able, available, and looking for work. You may file a claim for benefits the first day after becoming separated from employment or after your employer has significantly reduced your work hours. Information will be gathered from you as well as your separating employer and an agency determination will be based on whether you meet the eligibility requirements under state law.

You must have earned an average of $780.01 in each of 2 quarters of a time frame called the Base Period and the second highest quarter must be over $900 or 6 times the weekly benefit amount. If you’ve earned sufficient wages during this time frame, the wages earned will then be used to calculate your weekly benefit amount and the number of weeks you may receive benefits. The Base Period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the quarter in which your initial claim is filed. A calendar quarter is three months of either January - March, April - June, July - September or October - December.

Standard Base Period Image

You must be physically able to work at the time you file your claim for benefits. Special provisions are available for individuals who become ill or disabled after filing an initial claim.

You must document your work search activity each week by providing detailed contact information for at least three employers who you sought employment with. You may also fulfill this requirement by accessing services at an American Job Center.

There are exceptions to this requirement for workers who:

  • Have a definite return to work date and will be returning to their employer in the near future
  • Accept work exclusively through a union hiring hall
  • Are enrolled in agency approved training


The following examples are the most common reasons why applicants do not qualify or are denied unemployment benefits.

  • Voluntarily quit without good work-related cause
  • Discharged for work-related misconduct
  • Participation in a labor dispute other than a lockout that is in active progress
  • Failure to seek or accept suitable work