Are Unemployment Benefits Paid Weekly?

by Michaele Curtis; Updated September 26, 2017

Unemployment benefits are thought of as weekly benefits because compensation is divided into benefit weeks. However, whether or not your benefits are paid each week depends on the state where you live. Some states make unemployment payments ever other week. In special circumstances, the state may owe you back pay for unemployment compensation. In those cases, you may receive more than two weeks of payments paid in one lump sum.

Benefit Weeks Concept

Unemployment insurance claims are divided into weeks. Your eligibility is considered on a week-to-week basis, and you only receive benefits for each week that you meet the state’s unemployment eligibility requirements. Each benefit week stands on its own in regards to payment and eligibility. You might not be eligible for benefits one week but be eligible the next week. You might receive your full eligible benefit amount on one week but only receive a portion based on your eligibility requirements the following week.

Weekly Benefit Payments

Many states pay unemployment benefits on a weekly basis. Each week, these states ask you to file a weekly claims certification for your next payment on your designated day. You call in to the claims line or access the claims website on that day and answer eligibility questions about the previous week. Then you receive your payment on your designated day based on the information you provided. If you don’t file the claim or your answers indicate you’re ineligible, you don’t receive a payment for that week.

Biweekly Benefit Payments

Some stated make biweekly benefit payments instead of weekly ones. In these states, you file your weekly claim on a biweekly basis. When you call in or log in, you file two weekly claims certifications--one for each of the previous two weeks. When you answer the questions, you provide a separate answer for each week in question. Your payment will be for the previous two weeks if you certify for both weeks and your answers indicate you’re eligible for benefits.

Lump Sum Benefit Payments

Sometimes you receive more than two weeks of payments in one payment. This happens when you are due a lump sum payment for some reason. These situations are rare. For example, if you were going through the appeals process, you wouldn’t receive any benefits until an appeal decision was made. If you are granted benefits, you receive all of those back weeks of payments on your next payment. Other reasons you might receive back payments include missing your weekly claims certification or the state correcting a previous underpayment.

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.