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This report includes a summary of key changes, including the salary level test and salary basis test.

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March 29, 2010
Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

In a 2010 BLR webinar entitled "Unemployment Taxes and Claims: How to Reduce Your Costs and Effectively Contest Claims," Ronald Adler, president and CEO of Laurdan Associates, Inc., outlined the circumstances under which employees are eligible for unemployment benefits.

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To be eligible for unemployment benefits, Adler said, an employee must have accrued a minimum amount of work experience within that past one and one-half years (18 months) before he or she can file successfully for benefits.

Each state uses a different formula for determining those minimums. Many states require that the employee must have worked at least some part of two different calendar quarters within the past one and one-half years. Also, many states require that the employee must have earned a minimum amount of wages during that time. "You should check with local unemployment offices in the states in which you operate to determine these minimum standards," Adler said.

Also, unemployed workers must meet other minimum standards in most cases to qualify for benefits:

  • They must be honestly unemployed. Employees won’t usually qualify for benefits if they have a well-paying part-time job or if they are self-employed.
  • They must file for claims by appearing at the local state unemployment office, and they must respond to all future communications and requests to appear at the office to maintain their benefits.
  • If the unemployment office helps jobless workers find new positions, they must cooperate with the office by turning in job applications, going out for interviews, etc.
  • They must be ready, willing, and able to work (e.g., they aren’t seriously ill or they haven’t gone back to school full time without approval from the unemployment office).

Ronald Adler is president and CEO of Laurdan Associates, Inc., a human resources management consulting firm specializing in unemployment insurance audits, consulting, research and expert witness testimony. Contact him at

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