In some states, serving a full week of unemployment is a requirement for collecting any unemployment benefits from the unemployment insurance plan. This week, called the waiting week, prevents claimants from making two- or three-day claims for benefits. You can apply for your benefits anytime between your last day of work and the last day of your waiting week as long as you input the correct job separation date. It's not a rule in every state, so check with your state labor office for details.
The waiting week rule for unemployment insurance states that you must serve one full week of unemployment before you can start accruing unemployment benefits. In the states where the waiting week applies, if your last day of work may be February 7, for example, you aren't eligible for unemployment until February 14. In some states, you then have to wait for the end of the calendar week to qualify. Most unemployment weeks run from Sunday to Saturday. If your waiting week ends on a Wednesday, you're not eligible to begin collecting unemployment until the following Sunday.
The unemployment waiting week rule serves two purposes. It prevents the state's labor office from paying short-term benefits if you're unemployed for just a few days. The amount you'd collect for three days of unemployment isn't worth the time it takes the labor office to verify the claim, set up your account and send you payments. Also, the waiting week rule encourages you to immediately begin looking for new employment because you would have to wait for unemployment compensation.
Your Specific State
The waiting week rule doesn't apply in every state. For example, Kentucky's Office of Employment and Training (KYOET) offers unemployment benefits as soon as the day after your last day of work. Always check with your state's labor office before applying for unemployment insurance benefits because they have the most current rules and regulations specific to your state.
You can't begin accruing and collecting unemployment funds until you apply for benefits. If you live in a state that enforces the waiting week rule, you can't start accruing until at least a week after your last day of work. Ideally, you'll apply sometime during that waiting week so you don't miss any unemployment benefits for which you qualify. However, in most states, you can apply on your last day of work. Just remember to input your last day of work accurately and honestly so the labor office can factor in the correct waiting week requirement. You'll receive your determination notice with your waiting week already factored in.
- Commonwealth of Kentucky Education Cabinet: Your Rights and Responsibilities While Claiming Unemployment Benefits
- Department of Labor. "Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims." Accessed April 8, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Labor. "U.S. Department of Labor announces new guidance on unemployment insurance flexibilities during COVID-19 outbreak." Accessed March 20, 2020.
- Whitehouse.gov. "Remarks by President Trump at Signing of H.R.748, The CARES Act." Accessed March 29, 2020.
- Congress.gov. "H.R. 748—CARES Act." Accessed April 8, 2020.
- United States Department of Labor. "UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM LETTER NO. 15-20." Accessed July 1, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Labor. "U.S. Department of Labor Announces New CARES Act Guidance on Unemployment Insurance for States in Response to COVID-19 Crisis." Accessed April 8, 2020.
- Treasury Dept. "Paycheck Protection Program Loans: Frequently Asked Questions," Question 40. Accessed May 5, 2020.
Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.