How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect my legal rights?
See our COVID-19 Section

Legal aid is still open! Click here to find help.


Unemployment Benefits

Authored By
Education for Justice
View or print documents
New rules make it easier to get unemployment benefits if you lost your job or can't work as much because of COVID-19. See our fact sheet COVID-19: Changes in Unemployment Benefits During the Pandemic.

Apply online this week or next week to get paid for this week.

Unemployment benefits are given to people who lose their jobs when it is not their fault. This fact sheet gives some of the rules about who can get unemployment benefits. If you are not sure if you can get unemployment, you should apply. Although there are other rules, there are 3 basic rules.

  1. You must have lost your job and it was not your fault.

Sometimes you can still get unemployment insurance for these reasons below. If you’re not sure, you should apply.

  • Did you get laid off?
  • Were your hours cut?
  • Did you quit because your job was unsafe or hurting you?
  • Did you quit because of an illness or emergency in your family and you couldn’t get time off?
  • Did your boss change your pay, schedule, or hours and it was hard to get to work?
  • Were you sick or injured and it made working hard? Was someone in your family sick or injured?
  • Did you lose child care or your transportation? Did your boss or co-workers harass you or treat you badly?
  1. You must be looking for work after losing your job. Treat your job search like a full-time job. Spend at least 30 hours a week looking for a new job. Keep records of where you look for work.
  1. You must be able to work and available to work after losing your job. If you have health issues or commitments (like school) that keep you from looking for work or working, you may not be eligible.   

Note: If you get social security disability payments, you may still be able to get limited unemployment benefits.  Contact your local legal aid office for more information.