Millions of Americans have depended on unemployment insurance to help them remain financially stable while in between jobs. This public assistance program began in 1935 as a way of helping people during the Great Depression and has been relied upon ever since. Filing for unemployment requires you to follow a specific process. Failing to do so and you risk not getting approved. The first step is to confirm state regulations, gather paperwork, and prove job loss. Understanding these ten things before applying will help to make the process feel more approachable.
1. Are You Eligible?
You must meet certain requirements to be able to file an unemployment benefits application. Otherwise, your application will get rejected. First, you must be a resident of Indiana. Then, you must meet the following requirements.
- Unemployed, and
- Worked in Indiana during the last 12 months, and
- Earned wages per Indiana guidelines, and
- Actively seeking work
2. Gather Paperwork
Before you start your application, gather all of the necessary information. This will make the application process easier and faster. It will also ensure you do not make a mistake or forget important information. Gather the following pieces of information for your unemployment application.
- Email account
- Driver’s license or valid ID
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Phone number
- Last employer’s name, mailing address, phone number,
- Dates of employment
- The reason you are unemployed to prove job loss
- Bank routing number and account number
3. File Weekly Vouchers
After you submit your initial benefits application, you must file weekly vouchers. You will file a voucher each week that you wish to receive benefits. This is because benefits are paid weekly. Do not wait to start filing your weekly vouchers. Continue with weekly filings even if your application is delayed or going through an appeals process. Should your application get approved or corrected, all previous payments will get released. However, if you failed to file your weekly vouchers, then there are no payments to release.
When filing your weekly vouchers, report any income you receive for that week. Failing to do so is fraud.
4. Keep Detailed Job Search Records
Each week, you will need to fill out a Work Search Activity form on the IndianaCareerConnect.com website. If you keep a detailed written record of your job search activities, then this should be a relatively quick and straightforward process. You will need confirmation emails for jobs applied to, company contact information, and any proof of your job search activity. The DWD offers a log template to aid in your record keeping. Do not throw away your records after filling out your weekly search activity form. The DWD can request to verify your job search activity at any time while receiving benefits. If your records are determined to be lacking or inaccurate, your benefits claim could be denied, and you would cease to receive unemployment benefits.
5. Can You Waive the Work Search Requirement?
As a general rule, everyone receiving unemployment benefits must be actively looking for employment. However, there are certain circumstances where this requirement can get waived. For example, you could be enrolled in a training program that is approved by DWD. Or you could be a member in good standing of a DWD-approved union hiring hall. Finally, you have a specific recall date for the company position that let you go that is within 60 days of your filing date. Do not assume you are eligible and do not need to search for work. Speak with a representative to confirm your eligibility so that you do not unknowingly fail to fulfill the requirements to continue receiving payments.
6. There Is a Time Limit
Unemployment payments do not last forever. The standard maximum length is 26 weeks. During the pandemic, there were federal programs in place that made it possible to apply for additional weeks. However, these federal benefits ended in 2021.
7. Look for the Monetary Determination of Eligibility Form
After submitting your unemployment benefits application, you should receive a Monetary Determination of Eligibility form within ten days. This form does not mean you qualify for benefits or have the approval to receive benefits. Instead, it simply lists what your weekly benefit would be and the total maximum benefit you are eligible for. Your eligibility determination will happen within 21 days. However, this determination can take longer if there are issues with your filing.
8. Be Honest and Forthcoming
The state of Indiana takes unemployment benefits fraud seriously and actively pursues those suspected of this activity. You could face prison time, probation, repayment of money received, and restitution if caught. Thankfully, fraud is simple to avoid. Be honest and forthcoming with information about your unemployment, earning history, and job search efforts.
Do not intentionally withhold information. Do not provide misleading or inaccurate information. Double-check the information before submitting documents. If you do discover an error or mistake, correct the issue as soon as possible.
9. Be Responsible
You must take ownership of your unemployment filing. Read all of the materials provided and watch the tutorial videos to confirm state regulations. This will help you avoid making errors that could result in an under or overpayment. It will also help you understand your rights. This self-responsibility is what led some Indiana residents to stand up for their rights and take their grievances to court. This led to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) paying millions in back payments. If you feel you have a right to more unemployment than what you are receiving, it could help to speak with an unemployment lawyer. They can help you understand the regulations applicable and your potential right of recovery.
10. Hire a Goodin Abernathy LLP Lawyer
Losing a job is stressful as you look for new employment while staying financially stable. Applying for unemployment benefits can help ease the financial pressure while looking for new employment. In addition, unemployment benefits can make it easier to pursue compensation if you feel you have been wrongfully terminated. The team at Goodin Abernathy fights hard to help clients pursue their employment claims. Thanks to their years of experience, clients get the answers and guidance they need to file an unemployment claim.
Schedule a consultation with the employment lawyers at Goodin Abernathy to discuss your recent loss of employment and potential wrongful termination claim.