Did you lose your job?
Have your hours been cut?
You may qualify for unemployment benefits.
Unemployment benefits are money to partly replace your lost earnings. They help you pay expenses while looking for new work. Or while workplaces are shut down due to COVID-19.
Four out of five people in the U.S. will need unemployment benefits at some point in their working lives. These benefits come from taxes that employers pay. They are not a type of public assistance. They are not based on financial need.
Anyone who is authorized to work in the U.S. may be eligible.
If you are an employee – and this includes some gig workers (whose employers are supposed to pay payroll taxes on their wages) – apply for regular unemployment benefits.
If you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or a gig worker whose employer is not required to pay payroll taxes on your wages, apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.
If you have more than one job – a W-2 payroll job for an employer and a 1099 self-employed job – you have to apply for regular unemployment benefits if you earned more than $1,000 or worked more than 500 hours at your W-2 job in the last 18 months.
Take our Eligibility Quiz to help figure out which unemployment benefits to apply for.
How to get benefits
- To find out if you qualify, you need to fill out an application. This is called filing an initial claim.
- To start getting unemployment benefits, you need to file a weekly claim. This is different than the initial claim.
- To keep getting benefits, you need to file a new weekly claim each week.
Contact 211 for other benefits
It will take at least four weeks for your unemployment benefits to arrive. You may qualify for other benefits too, like:
- Help paying rent or finding housing
- Help paying utility bills
- Help getting groceries or other food, like food boxes or food pantries
- Help finding and paying for child care
- Cash benefits
- Immediate help for people in a domestic violence situation
- General information about COVID-19
- Transportation help
- Resources for immigrant and undocumented communities
- Other resources available in your community
Call: 2-1-1 or 1-866-698-6155 (free language interpreters available by phone)
TTY: dial 711 and call 1-866-698-6155
Text: your zip code to 898211 (TXT211) (English and Spanish)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (English and Spanish)
And if you lost or don’t have health coverage, you may qualify for a free or low-cost health plan.