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File A Claim

Before you apply: Gather your documents and information

For regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, you will need:

  • Your name, Social Security number, birthdate and contact information.
  • Your complete work history for the past 18 months including:
    • employer name(s)
    • address(es)
    • phone number(s)
    • start and end dates of employment for each employer
  • Your bank account and routing number, if you want to sign up for direct deposit.

For the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, you will need the above, plus:

  • Proof of earnings (only if you want a weekly benefit amount higher than the $205 minimum; see our PUA Income Documentation Guide) such as:
    • Form 1065 AND K-1 or W-2
    • Form 1040 or 1040-RS AND Schedule C
    • Form 1120s AND K-1 or W-2
  • The date you first became unemployed due to COVID-19
  • How much you earned during any past week for which you are seeking benefits

Step 1: Apply by filing your initial claim

To find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits, you need to fill out an application. This is called filing an initial claim. You only file an initial claim once per benefit year. Before you start filling out an application, gather the required documents.

Take the Eligibility Quiz first to make sure you are filling out the right application. Filing out the wrong application will delay your benefits by several weeks.

For regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits:

There are two ways to apply:

  1. Online. The fastest way to apply is through our Online Claim System​. For regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, you will fill out an online form.

    IMPORTANT: Be sure you enter your information correctly on your application. Your money will be delayed by days or even weeks if you make a mistake. Be extra careful with your Social Security Number (SSN) and your address.
  2. By phone. You can also apply over the phone. Right now a lot of people are calling, so you may have to wait on hold.

    Regular unemployment
    1-877-File-4-U (1-877-345-3484)

Need help filing your claim?

Filing a claim wrong can delay your benefits. And during COVID-19, the right answers to the questions on the claim form are different than you might think.

Use our step-by-step guides and videos to help you file your claims correctly.

After you file a claim

Application confirmation
You will get a confirmation email when you submit any kind of unemployment application.

Watch your mail too. We will let you know if your claim has been approved or not. We will mail you a letter to let you know. If you are approved, we will let you know how much money you will get and what to do next.

It is taking us a minimum of four weeks to process regular unemployment insurance (UI) claims.

You can check on the status of your claim by logging into our Online Claim System.

Step 2: File your weekly claims

*** IMPORTANT: to get any money, you must file weekly claims. ***

To start getting unemployment benefits, you need to file a weekly claim. This is different than the initial claim. You have to file both to get your money.

A weekly claim is how we figure out how much money to send you for that week. A week is Sunday through Saturday. You can’t submit a weekly claim until the week is over.

To keep getting benefits, you need to file a weekly claim every week. File a weekly claim even if you worked that week. You need to report your hours and earnings for any work you did that week.

File your weekly claims even if you don’t know if your application has been approved yet. It can take at least four weeks for us to process your application. If your application is approved, we will send you money for all the past weeks you were eligible for, as long as you filed your weekly claims.

Step 3: Be ready to return to work

People getting unemployment benefits are required to look for work and document their search.

Many employers are still hiring, even now, so we encourage anyone who has lost work to continue searching.

Learn more in the Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook.