Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, a person must have at least some minimum amount of work experience within the last one and one-half years before filing for benefits.

Each state has a different formula for determining the minimum needed to obtain benefits in that state. Most of the states require that the employee worked at least some part of two different calendar quarters within the past one and one-half years, and a large percentage of states also have a specific dollar amount of wages that must have been earned.

Your local unemployment office should be able to tell you what the minimum is in your state. You should know what your state's minimum is, and think about setting up a probationary period for new hires that is less than the minimum time that would qualify a worker for benefits.


In most states, time spent and money earned in self-employment does not count toward these minimums. If you decide to pack up your business, you probably won't be able to get unemployment benefits.

There are a few other eligibility requirements. If you suspect your ex-employee doesn't meet them, consider contesting the payment of benefits.