Mar 3, 2008

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE : Eligibility for Benefits

Eligibility for Benefits
In order to receive unemployment benefits, a worker must meet the following eligibility requirements:

- Have a prior attachment to the labor force

- Be able to work and be available for work

- Be actively seeking work

- Have satisfied any prescribed waiting period

- Be free of disqualification

Prior Attachment to the Labor Force
The right to benefits depends on the worker's attachment to the labor force within a prior base period. In most states, this base period is the 52 weeks or four quarters prior to the time of unemployment. During this base period, the worker must have earned a minimum amount of wages or worked a minimum period of time or both.

Able to Work and Available for Work
The right to benefits is also contingent on an unemployed worker's being both physically and mentally capable of working. The worker must also be available for work. Benefits may be denied if suitable work is refused or if substantial restrictions are placed on the type of work that will be accepted.

Actively Seeking Work
In addition to registering with a local unemployment office, most states require that a worker make a reasonable effort to seek work.

Waiting Period

Most unemployment programs have a one-week waiting period before benefits commence. Benefits are not paid retroactively for that time of unemployment.

Free of Disqualification
All states have provisions in their laws under which a worker may be disqualified from receiving benefits. This disqualification may take the form of (1) a total cancellation of benefit rights, (2) the postponement of benefits, or (3) a reduction in benefits. Common reasons for disqualification include the following:

- Voluntarily leaving a job without good cause.

- Discharge for misconduct.

- Refusal to accept suitable work.

- Involvement in a labor dispute.

- Receipt of disqualifying income. This includes dismissal wages, workers' compensation benefits, benefits from an employer's pension plan, or primary insurance benefits under the Social Security program.


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