Unemployment Handbook (All 50 States)

If you have lost your job through no fault of your own, you may qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI), which is temporary income to support you while you look for a new job. If this is your first time applying for unemployment or have not received benefits in a long time, it’s important to be aware of changes in how unemployment benefits work. The easiest place to look is the unemployment handbook for your state.

However, not everyone has the time to read through an entire unemployment benefits handbook. That’s where we come in.

While we have provided links to unemployment handbooks by state below, there are popular questions we get about unemployment benefits that we can answer for you right away.

If you are here mainly to see the handbook for your state, scroll down below.

Those applying for Unemployment Benefits have four simple questions: How Do I File for Unemployment, How do I stay Eligible for Unemployment, How much money will I get, and for how long will I get it?

We have answered these four questions below.

If you have additional questions about unemployment benefits, you can ask us in the comments section below.

Additionally, you can click on your state below for your state’s Unemployment Handbook, where you can find answers to additional questions you may have.

"Unemployment Handbook"

How do I file for Unemployment?

Each state sets its own guidelines for eligibility for unemployment benefits.

However, all states follow the same guidelines established by federal law.

Generally, here are the steps you need to take to file for unemployment in your state:

Step 1 – Check for Eligibility

To be eligible for Unemployment, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be totally or partially unemployed.
  • File an initial claim for benefits report as directed to file for subsequent weeks.
  • Have the necessary wage credits for work in covered employment during the base period.
  • Be able to work, be available for work, be actively seeking work.
  • Participate in reemployment services, such as job search assistance services, as directed by your state’s unemployment agency.
  • Serve a waiting week (varies by state), for which no benefits are payable,
    after filing an initial claim.

Step 2 – Gather Your Information

Before you apply for unemployment benefits, you will need to have the following information available to support your claim.

Generally, here’s a summary of what you need to apply for Unemployment in your state:

  • Social Security number.
  • Driver’s License or State ID number.
  • Employment information for the last 18 months for each employer.
  • Employer identification number, also known as FEIN number, if available. This number can be found on your W2 or 1099 tax form.
  • Employer name (name on pay stub), address, and phone number.
  • First and last day of work.
  • Gross earnings (before taxes) covering the last 18 months.
  • Reason for separation.

If one of the following criteria applies to you, have the following additional information available:

  • Not a U.S. Citizen: Alien Registration Number or other work authorization form.
  • Military employee: A copy of your DD-214 Member 4. If you do not have a Member 4, a copy of your Member 2-7 may be used.
  • Federal employee: SF-8 or SF-50.
  • Union member: Union name, hall number, and phone number.

Step 3 – Submit your Claim Online

In most states, you can file for unemployment online, by phone, or in person (complete and submit a paper application.

For a complete step-by-step guide on how to apply for benefits in your state, including how much you will get, how benefits are calculated, and what happens after you apply, click here.

How do I stay eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits?

Once you begin receiving unemployment Insurance benefits, most states require the following to maintain weekly eligibility:

  • File weekly or biweekly claims, usually by mail or phone.
  • Be able to work, available to work, and actively seek work each week you claim benefits.
  • Report any earnings from work you had during the week(s). Each state has its own rules for how much money you can earn while receiving benefits.
  • Report any job offers or job offers you decline during the week.
  • If requested, report to your local Unemployment Office or American Job Center on the scheduled day and time.
  • Some states require registration for work with the State Employment Service, so it can assist you in finding employment.
  • Meet any other state eligibility requirements.

How Much Will I Get in Unemployment Benefits?

How much you will get in unemployment benefits depends on your state.

Below is the list of maximum weekly benefit amounts by state (without additional COVID-19 related increases):

State Max. Weekly Benefit Amount
Alabama $275
Alaska $370
Arizona $240
Arkansas $451
California $450
Colorado $618
Connecticut $649
Delaware $400
District of Columbia $444
Florida $275
Georgia $365
Hawaii $648
Idaho $463
Illinois $484
Indiana $390
Iowa $481
Kansas $488
Kentucky $552
Louisiana $247
Maine $445
Maryland $430
Massachusetts $823
Michigan $362
Minnesota $740
Mississippi $235
Missouri $320
Montana $552
Nebraska $440
Nevada $469
New Hampshire $427
New Jersey $713
New Mexico $511
New York $504
North Carolina $350
North Dakota $618
Ohio $498
Oklahoma $539
Oregon $673
Pennsylvania $572
Rhode Island $586
South Carolina $326
South Dakota $428
Tennessee $275
Texas $535
Utah $580
Vermont $531
Virginia $378
Washington $844
West Virginia $424
Wisconsin $370
Wyoming $508

How long will my Unemployment Insurance benefits last?

Generally, unemployment benefits are based on a percentage of your earnings over a recent 52-week period - up to a state maximum amount.

Benefits can be paid for a maximum of 26 weeks in most states.

However, additional weeks of benefits, called Extended Benefits, may be available during times of high unemployment.

Here’s a list of how long you can claim unemployment benefits by state (without additional COVID-19 related extensions):

State Maximum Number of Weeks
Alabama 14
Alaska 26
Arizona 26
Arkansas 16
California 20
Colorado 26
Connecticut 26
Delaware 26
District of Columbia 26
Florida 19
Georgia 16
Hawaii 16
Idaho 21
Illinois 26
Indiana 26
Iowa 26
Kansas 26
Kentucky 26
Louisiana 26
Maine 26
Maryland 26
Massachusetts 26
Michigan 20
Minnesota 26
Mississippi 26
Missouri 20
Montana 28
Nebraska 26
Nevada 26
New Hampshire 26
New Jersey 26
New Mexico 26
New York 26
North Carolina 16
North Dakota 26
Ohio 26
Oklahoma 26
Oregon 26
Pennsylvania 26
Rhode Island 26
South Carolina 20
South Dakota 26
Tennessee 26
Texas 26
Utah 26
Vermont 26
Virginia 26
Washington 26
West Virginia 26
Wisconsin 26
Wyoming 26

Unemployment Handbook by State

Click on the name of your state below to see the Unemployment Handbook.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Unemployment Handbook Summary

We hope this post on Unemployment Handbook was helpful.

Still Have Questions?

To go to file for unemployment insurance benefits in your state, click here: How to file for unemployment.

For the phone number to contact your state’s unemployment agency, click here: Unemployment Office Phone Number by State.

To find out the Unemployment Rate in your state, click here: Unemployment rate for all 50 states.

For details about Unemployment Debit Card by state, including the Ways2Go, ReliaCard, and Key2Benefits, click here: Unemployment Debit Cards.

If you have further questions about California Unemployment, Unemployment Benefits, or Unemployment Debit Cards, you can fill out the comment form below and we will answer your question ASAP.

Be sure to check out our other articles on Unemployment Benefits, including:
Whether Unemployment Benefits are Taxable
List of States Extending Unemployment Benefits
Massachusetts DUA Unemployment Debit Card
How to file for Unemployment (in all 50 States)
Unemployment office Phone Number (All 50 States)