What Should I Do If My Unemployment Is Exhausted?

by Michaele Curtis; Updated September 26, 2017
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Exhausting your unemployment benefits means that you’ve reached the maximum benefits your state law allows you to collect for the year. Ideally, you’d have a new job at that point but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Then, you have several options, including applying for benefit extensions and seeking out organizations designed to help those in need. At the end of your benefit year, you can refile your claim and possibly start your benefits over.

Unemployment Exhaustion

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Unemployment insurance is meant to be temporary, so your state tries to ensure that no one uses the program as primary income. It does this by setting maximum benefit amounts for each claim per benefit year. A benefit year is the 52 weeks that follow your initial claim date. Once you’ve receive those maximum benefits, your claim is exhausted.

Emergency Unemployment Compensation

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When your state unemployment claim is exhausted, you may qualify for a federal unemployment extension. These benefits, referred to as emergency unemployment compensation, are offerd by the federal government to states to extend benefits. Most states automatically enroll you in this program when available. However, if you stop receiving payments from your state labor office, you can contact it to check if you’re eligible for any federal extensions.

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Organizations Can Help

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After you’ve exhausted the extensions, many local government and private organizations may be able to offer you further help. Unlike unemployment benefits, these groups offer food, bill payment or job search help based on need instead of your employment history. You often have to apply and bring in proof of need. You can find a list of these organizations on your state’s claims website or by contacting the local Social Security office.

Refiling Unemployment Benefits

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Since unemployment maximum benefit amounts apply per benefit year, you’re not eligible to refile your claim until the benefit year is over. Your state will not notify you of this so you have to mark the date yourself. You log into the website or call the claims line to file a new claim and fill out an application. Remember that the eligibility requirements will be the same as the last time you filed, including your state’s monetary eligibility threshold. This is the amount you must have earned in the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before your filing date to qualify for benefits. If you were on unemployment benefits for the majority of the previous year with no employment, you may not qualify.

About the Author

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.

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