Unemployment benefits aren’t guaranteed to anyone. States have different eligibility requirements, so your ability to receive unemployment benefits will depend on your state. If you’ve read up on the rules, you have an idea of whether you’ll get unemployment but you won’t for sure until you receive your Notice of Determination. You can also check by accessing the claim system or speaking to a live representative.


If COVID-19 has affected your job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Head to the Department of Labor's website for updates, and check out careeronestop to learn how to file for unemployment in your state.

You may also be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which is now available to individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for unemployment benefits (e.g. self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig workers)

Understand The Rules

You can get a general idea of whether you’re going to get unemployment before you even apply for benefits. You just have to read up on the eligibility requirements for your state. You can access the guidelines on your state labor office’s website, in the government distributed claimant handbook or by reading the pamphlets distributed by your state. All of these sources come from your state’s labor department so contacting them is the first step.

Read Your Notice of Determination

Your official decision of unemployment comes from the state in the form of a Notice of Determination. This is a form the state that says what the decision is and how the state came to it. It usually lists your previous wages and the employers you earned them from. If approved, it tells you how much you can collect and for how long. If denied, it has the reason you were denied and sometimes explains what you need to do to qualify again.

Access Your Claim Status

If you don’t receive your Notice of Determination or you want to check earlier, you can access your claims status in the state’s claim system. It depends on the state, but it’s usually available by the Internet or the telephone claims line. You must log in using your Social Social security number and the PIN you created when you initially filed for benefits.

Talk to a Representative

The Notice of Determination arrives a week to ten days after your file your claim. You can usually access your claim online within a couple of days before the notice arrives. If two weeks after your claim goes by and there’s no word on the decisions, you can call the claims line and speak to a live representative. Verify your information to the agent and ask about the status of the claim. She can give you more information about whether a decision has been made on your claim.