Created in the US in 1935 - when millions of people worldwide became unemployed during the Great Depression - unemployment insurance today remains the main safety net for workers who lose their jobs.
To be eligible for unemployment benefits, generally there must be proof that you have lost your job as result of a layoff and that there is a "lack of work" in the industry in which you work.
Rules vary by US state, but most will review the reason for unemployment before issuing benefits.
Recipients typically receive an average of 50 percent of their previous take-home pay, and benefits are generally limited to 26 weeks (although look for an extension of unemployment benefits as the current economic crisis continues.)
Claims Are usually begun by the laid-off worker, who must have worked a specified number of months on the job to receive benefits. In some states, claims can be filed by telephone or via the internet.
It generally takes two weeks for benefit payments to begin, and in the following weeks or months unemployment benefit recipients must continue to affirm their eligibility to work and that they are actively seeking employment.
Unemployment insurance for the self-employed
Only self employed individuals who who have setup their business as a corporation - and have paid into the unemployment system on a quarterly basis - are eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
However, the self-employed can usually receive disaster assistance in states or regions that have suffered a major disaster such as a forest fire, hurricane or tornado. The disaster must first be declared by the President before states can officially
release funds to disaster victims, which may last up to 26 weeks as long as unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster.
For new entrepreneurs only, some states offer a self-employment assistance program that encourages workers to start a small business, by substituting regular unemployment insurance benefits with a weekly "self-employed allowance". Rather than prove that they are looking for work, individuals must show
that they are working toward opening their own businesses. currently, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York,
Oregon and Pennsylvania have Self-Employment Assistance programs to help entrepreneurs get their own businesses off the ground after a layoff.
More facts & information about unemployment insurance around the Web:
On the Web, learn more about unemployment insurance offered in all 50 states with information on where you can apply, what kind of benefits are available, how much and how long you can expect to be paid, and where else you can seek help and advice for
getting back on your feet after a layoff ...
Unemployment Insurance - Facts and information on the topic including unemployment insurance for federal employees and ex-service members, extended benefits, disaster unemployment, benefits for the self-employed, and trade readjustment allowances, from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Unemployment Insurance - From the US Department of Labor, with a discussion on improving the Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, a complete guide to Unemployment Insurance by State in PDF format, related resources.
NCCP | Unemployment Insurance - Featuring a database of unemployment benefit laws, facts and statistics searchable by state, plus cross-state comparisons of participants and
spending, from the National Center for Children in Poverty.