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.