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Getting laid off is no picnic. While you have a lot more time on your hands, you can have a lot less dough in your wallet and a lot less certainly about your future employment and financial security.
In an effort to aid former employees with their sudden loss of income, employers are required to make contributions to unemployment insurance programs, which pay laid off workers benefits while they are out of a job. While none of us are excited to apply for unemployment, when does it become too late to file for benefits?
Outside of natural or financial disasters, the federal government doesn't offer unemployment benefits, so those programs are run by states individually. And while some states' unemployment insurance policies may vary, they generally don't have a hard deadline by which you need to file.
You might put off filing because of the stigma attached to receiving unemployment, or because you're optimistic you'll find a new job before you need the help. Or, now that you know there's no deadline, why not take your time. But there are a few reasons, other than your dwindling bank account, to file for unemployment as soon as possible after being laid off.
While there may be no deadline for filing for unemployment, there may be a deadline for receiving the best benefits. Each state calculates their unemployment benefits slightly differently, but most will take an average of your earnings over a certain period of weeks or months before your filing, and then pay you a percentage. If you wait too long and don't have recent enough income history, you may not be able to collect as much in unemployment.
Eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits may also vary, depending on where you live. So for the most accurate information on your state's unemployment programs, or if you've had an unemployment application denied, contact an experienced government programs attorney in your area.