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What are Unemployment Benefits? Can you get unemployment benefits if you get fired?

There have been a lot of speculations surrounding unemployment benefits, buzzing questions like can one get unemployment benefits if you get fired? What happens to me if I get fired from work? What exactly is the unemployment benefit and who is eligible?

When an employee gets dismissed or fired, they may wonder if they are eligible for unemployment benefits. This article answers your questions about unemployment eligibility.

Unemployment benefit programs, in general, provide temporary financial support to people who are out of work through no fault of their own.

If an employee was fired for misconduct or a violation of company policy, they may be ineligible for unemployment benefits.

However, it is not always so simple. This post will explain in detail how unemployment works for organizations, the factors that influence eligibility for benefits, and the rights of fired employees.

What are Unemployment Benefits?

The Employment Security Department explains unemployment benefits as a means that provides you with temporary income when you lose your job through no fault of your own. The money partly replaces your lost earnings and helps you pay expenses while looking for new work.

Unemployment benefits are a federal-state program that provides short-term cash benefits to jobless workers while they look for new work.

State law determines who can receive benefits, how much they can receive, and for how long, based on earnings and hours worked during a “base period.”

In most states, eligible workers will receive cash payments for up to 26 weeks while looking for work. However, nine states offer less than 26 weeks and two states offer more.

Four states also have extended benefits (EB) programs.

Businesses pay unemployment taxes known as FUTA (Federal Unemployment Tax Act) and SUTA (State Unemployment Tax Act).

Unemployment claims have the potential to increase unemployment insurance tax rates for business owners, so understanding how the system works is critical to avoiding costly mistakes.

The benefits, which are obtained from the taxes that your previous employer(s) paid, do not take into account your level of financial need. While you are receiving benefits, it is your responsibility to return to work as soon as you possibly can.

How to apply for unemployment benefits 

The best and fastest way to apply is online. You can apply by phone, but not in person. At this time, you cannot apply in person. The steps below will guide you through the process.

Before applying, gather the information you’ll need. Visit the Have this information ready webpage or see page 1 of the Unemployed Worker Handbook.

Reasonable accommodation. There are packages and perks available for unemployment benefits for customers with disabilities.

Application Process

Step 1: Eligibility

If you are out of work and not sure if you are eligible for unemployment benefits, you may still want to apply. Complete the application as best you can, and you will be offered a follow-up as soon as possible.

You cannot apply for unemployment benefits in Washington or file weekly claims here if you did not work in this state during the past 18 months. The only exceptions are if you were in the military or worked for the federal government.

You must file your claim with one of the state(s) where you worked in the last 18 months. Contact each state where you worked to find out your claim options for those states.

To determine if you are eligible for unemployment benefits we examine:

1. Whether you worked enough hours in your base year:

  • You must have worked at least 680 hours in your base year.
  • At least some wages must have been earned in Washington unless you recently left the military and are currently located in Washington state.

2. The reason you’re unemployed or not working full time. We’ll consider whether you:

  • Were laid off or fired
  • Quit your job
  • Were discharged from the military
  • Are involved in a strike or labor dispute
  • Are on a leave of absence
  • Are still working

Read more about basic eligibility requirements.  

Step 2: Apply

If possible, please apply online to save time and receive financial support fastest.

When applying, the system will time out after 15 minutes to protect your security. Apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We suggest you use a laptop or desktop computer—our application is not designed for mobile devices at this time. Read more here

Who Can Receive Unemployment Benefits?

Not all unemployed people are qualified for unemployment benefits. Unsurprisingly, there are many restrictions on who can apply, but generally speaking, eligibility for unemployment is determined by the circumstances surrounding the employee’s termination.

An applicant must be unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control. Layoffs, downsizing, a lack of available work, or a furlough, such as one brought on by COVID-19, are a few examples.

In addition, they must fulfill any additional requirements set forth by their state in addition to the work and wage requirements.

Normally, an employee who leaves their job voluntarily will not be compensated for lost wages.

Employees may still be qualified if they can demonstrate “good cause” for quitting, such as unsafe working conditions or harassment.

The CARES Act passed in March 2020, broadened the definition of “good cause” to include pandemic-related factors, such as the need to care for a family member who has tested positive for COVID-19.

On September 6, 2021, those expanded benefits were set to expire, but additional changes could still be made.

One of the rights that terminated employees may exercise, if they are eligible, is the right to unemployment benefits.

Additionally, there are a number of behaviors that would prevent a fired worker from receiving unemployment benefits:


Numerous absences without justification.

Failing a drug test or showing up to work drunk.

Dangerous conditions.

Sexual assault.

Abusing or hurting fellow workers.

Can an Employer Refuse to Pay an Unemployment Claim?

You have the right, as an employer, to contest an unemployment claim that you believe is invalid or misleading. When a former employee files a claim, you will receive notification from the state or federal unemployment agency, along with information about the termination.

You can now decide whether to accept or contest the claim. Remember that an employee has the right to appeal the denial of an unemployment claim.

How to Estimate the Unemployment Rate

Understanding how to calculate the unemployment rate can help you better understand the state of the American economy.

Learn how to use the unemployment rate formula, the different types of unemployment, and what surveys the US uses to calculate unemployment.

The Formula for Calculating the Unemployment Rate

Unemployment Rate = Number of Unemployed Persons / Labour Force is the formula for calculating the unemployment rate. The labor force is made up of both unemployed and employed people.

The labor force participation rate or unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed individuals by the labor force.

Each step is broken down below so that you can correctly calculate the unemployment rate:

1. Subtract the number of unemployed workers from the total number of working and nonworking people.

For example, if there are 4 million unemployed Americans and 44 million employed Americans, divide 4 by 44 to get a decimal of 09.

2. To calculate the unemployment rate, multiply the resulting decimal number by 100.

Simply move the decimal two slots to the left, and 09% becomes 9%.

3. Subtract the employment rate from 100 to get the employment rate in the United States.

In this case, 100 minus 9 equals 91, indicating that 91% of Americans who can work do so.