An initial claim for unemployment insurance benefits requires listing your employment history for the past 18 months so your eligibility for benefits can be determined. The unemployment office uses this information to pull the salary and wages you were paid during the 18-month period. This earnings information is made available to you whether your application is approved or not. A case history chronicling your work with a particular employer also is made available if your claim is initially denied and appealed.

Apply for unemployment benefits during your first week of unemployment or partial unemployment. You can apply for benefits online, over the telephone or at an unemployment office.

Provide the unemployment office with the name and address of all your employers within the past 18 months. Some states also require phone numbers. If you do not know the specific address or phone number for your employer, consult an old pay stub or look up your employer's information in the phone book or online.

Wait for your benefit determination letter to arrive stating whether you were approved for unemployment. It typically arrives within one to three weeks. The letter expands on the work history you provided on your application by listing wages paid by individual employers from an original payment date to the date of termination.

Request your case history if you were denied benefits and do not agree with the reasons outlined for the denial. An appeal of an initial decision allows you access to your unemployment case history and the data provided to the unemployment office by the employer your claim is against. These documents provide you with a work history relative to a particular job held and may include payroll records, employee reviews and performance evaluations.


Your tax records should contain your earnings history for each year of employment. If you retained copies of W-2 forms, 1099 forms and other earnings statements such as Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, you should be able to piece together a complete work history.

W-2 forms and 1099s list the name and address of employers and payment issuers.

When a complete work history chronicling all of your former employers, even those not needed for an unemployment claim, is required, fill out Social Security form SSA-7050-F4 and submit it to the address listed on the form. The Social Security Administration can use microfilm records to access your entire employment history. Charges are assessed for this service based on the number of years the office must comb through for your earnings data.