What Is Unemployment Insurance?

What Is Unemployment Insurance (UI)?

Unemployment insurance (UI), commonly known as unemployment benefits, is a sort of state-funded insurance that pays out money on a weekly basis to those who have lost their jobs and meet certain criteria. Those who quit their jobs or were fired for a good reason are not eligible for unemployment benefits. To put it another way, someone who is laid off due to a lack of suitable labor and is not at fault frequently qualifies for unemployment benefits.

Despite the fact that unemployment insurance is a federal law, each state manages its own program. Workers must comply with all work and wage criteria set forth by their state, including time worked.

State governments are primarily responsible for disbursing the benefits, which are supported by payroll taxes collected specifically for that purpose.

During the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government put in place provisions to assist unemployed Americans. After President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020, these additional benefits became effective.


They were extended after the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was passed, and they were extended again on March 11, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The extra benefits were set to expire on September 6, 2021.


  • Unemployment insurance (also known as unemployment compensation) benefits can run up to 26 weeks, depending on where you reside and have worked.
  • If you resign from your job or are dismissed for cause, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • The unemployment insurance program is overseen by the United States Department of Labor.
  • The 2020 CARES Act established three initiatives to assist unemployed Americans, including those who would otherwise be disqualified for unemployment benefits.
  • The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 extended through September 6, 2021, COVID-19-related unemployment benefits that had been enhanced under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

Understanding Unemployment Insurance (UI)

Individual state governments and the federal government collaborate on the unemployment initiative. Unemployment insurance pays cash stipends to jobless people who are actively looking for jobs. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) and state employment agencies provide compensation to qualifying unemployed workers.

Although each state has its own unemployment insurance scheme, all states are required by federal law to follow certain principles. Unemployment benefits are relatively common across state lines according to federal law. The program is overseen by the US Department of Labor, which ensures compliance in each state.

Workers who satisfy certain criteria may be eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits per year. The weekly cash stipend is intended to replace, on average, a portion of the employee’s usual income. Employer taxes are used to fund unemployment insurance in most states. The majority of employers will pay the FUTA tax on both the federal and state level. 501(c)3 organizations are exempt from the FUTA tax.


Employee contributions to the state unemployment fund are also required in three states.

Unemployment insurance beneficiaries’ reportable income includes freelance work and jobs for which they were paid in cash.

People who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks may be eligible for an extended benefits program. Unemployed individuals might get an additional number of weeks of unemployment benefits if they qualify for extended benefits.

The availability of extended benefits will be determined by the overall unemployment situation in a state. If you’ve lost your job as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, examine the list of available programs below.

Unemployment Insurance Requirements (UI)

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, a jobless person must meet two fundamental requirements. Unemployed people must meet state-mandated minimums for either earned wages or time working in a given time frame.

The state must also find that the qualified person is unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control. When these two prerequisites are met, a person may file an unemployment insurance claim.

People make claims in the state where they worked. Participants can file claims over the phone or on the website of the state unemployment insurance office.

The processing and approval of a claim usually take two to three weeks after the initial application.

After a claim is approved, the participant is required to provide weekly or bimonthly reports that test or confirm their job condition. To keep receiving benefits, you must submit reports on a regular basis. An unemployed worker cannot decline work during the week, and any income obtained from freelance or consulting engagements must be reported on each weekly or bimonthly claim.

Particular Points to Consider

COVID-19, a sickness caused by a novel coronavirus, was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.

Across the United States, ten states and businesses shut down, resulting in enormous job losses.

The CARES Act, a major piece of legislation that, among other things, increased states’ power to provide UI to millions of workers affected by COVID-19, including those who aren’t normally eligible for unemployment benefits, was passed by lawmakers. In March 2020, the measure was enacted and signed into law.

Three distinct programs were created to assist Americans who had lost their jobs due to the coronavirus.

In response to the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Employment Compensation program, President Trump signed a directive on Aug. 8, 2020, establishing the fourth program.

Unemployment Compensation for Pandemics in the United States (FPUC)

On top of conventional unemployment insurance, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) gave an extra weekly payout (UI).

Under the CARES Act, an additional $600 per week was granted initially, but that benefit expired on July 31, 2020. In December 2020, the FPUC was updated and extended as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Beginning after December 26, 2020, unemployed people will receive an additional $300 per week in benefits (replacing the $600 weekly payment).


After President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 on March 11, 2021, another extension of the FPUC was granted. FPUC benefits were set to expire on Sept. 6, 2021, under the proposal.

Remember that the FPUC benefit was not paid between July 31, 2020, and December 26, 2020. In other words, the $600 increase in unemployment benefits will be phased off on July 31, 2020. This means that the $300 won’t be paid out until December 26, 2020.

FPUC payments ceased on September 6, 2021, however, qualified claimants will continue to receive regular unemployment compensation from their state if they are eligible. Regular unemployment benefits currently replace around 38 percent of a worker’s salary, according to the US Department of Labor.

While there was some public support, news outlets claimed that there was a little political appetite for extending FPUC payments after September 6. In fact, 26 states ceased paying the FPUC before the deadline.


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