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How Long Can You Collect Unemployment Benefits?

Ashwini Kulkarni Sule Oct 6, 2018
It is important to know for how much time you can collect unemployment benefits once you become eligible. This write-up will help you out.
Unemployment benefits are granted by the Federal Department of Labor to individuals who find themselves unemployed for no fault of theirs. The Department of Labor works in collaboration with individual states for granting these benefits. As a result, there is a great variation in terms of eligibility criteria, weekly benefit rate, etc.
The policy formulation is done by comparing the unemployment rate in the particular state with that of the national unemployment rate. Yet, the basic rules and regulations remain roughly uniform throughout the country. Each state has its particulars on its unemployment office website.

Time Period

The eligibility criteria for qualifying for these benefits is very strict. Before applying for unemployment benefits, you should be employed for 12 consecutive months. You should successfully prove that your termination from employment was not due to a fault on your part. Resigning from a job does not necessarily disqualify you.
Every year, you can make only a single claim for unemployment benefits. Federal Law states to reap the benefits of unemployment insurance for 26 weeks. The weekly benefit rate is often resolved by your eligibility and the general scenario of unemployment in the country. However, there is a cap on the maximum weekly benefit that can be paid to an individual.
The weekly payments need not always be consecutive and of definite amount only. The whole of your benefit amount can be paid over a time span of 52 weeks (one year). This provision is due to the fact that you may acquire a new job during this period.
Hence, your benefits can be terminated for the period during which you are employed. If you again become unemployed in that same year, your withstanding benefit amount can be paid to you for the rest of your unemployment period.
The following example will help understand this scenario in a better way.

Mark was fired in the month of April 2012, after which he claimed for unemployment benefits. He received his weekly check for a period of 15 weeks. During this time, he found another job, hence, his benefits were discontinued. 
After working for a couple of months, Mark again found himself unemployed. Due to that, he received the impending amount of his benefits only for 11 weeks (26 minus 15), and not for 26 weeks. After he completed his claim year in April 2013, he was able to file another claim and start receiving benefits for the next 26 weeks.
Your yearly benefit amount is calculated as weekly benefit rate x 26 weeks. The weekly benefit rate can vary throughout the year, since the applicant may receive payments from part-time jobs. For instance, if you acquire a part-time job which pays you $100 a week, and your weekly benefit rate is $300, then your weekly benefit amount will be reduced to $200.
However, since you are eligible for the full unemployment benefit, your annual benefit amount will be 26 x $300, which equals to $7,800. In this case, you will continue to receive your weekly benefits for more than 26 weeks, until you receive the full amount.

Extended Unemployment Benefits

If your chances of landing a job by the end of the claim year are slim, you can apply for unemployment extension benefits. The provision for granting extended benefits vary for each state. You can get an additional 13 weeks on your current program.
In certain circumstances, you can avail extended unemployment benefits for 20 weeks. A grim economy and high nationwide unemployment rates are the conditions which force the government to extend this period.
While you continue to collect the benefits, it is a must that you seriously look for employment.