Plain Explanations of Common Doublespeak
If you’re tired of glossaries inside glossaries that only use hard to understand words to define hard to understand words then here is a simple and pared down explanation of the more confusing and misleading terms you’ll hear thrown around the unemployment office, agency, department or whatever it’s called in your state.
Speaking of confusion: we tell you over and over that much of the process of applying for unemployment benefits has to do with your particular home state’s procedure, which includes the various names they use for their offices and the various support services and agencies. Best way to sort through the confusion: get to know the terms your state uses for the unemployment process.
Base period – the period of your employment that the state uses to calculate your unemployment benefits or payments. You might also see it referred to as the “qualifying period.” A percentage of the wages you earned during the first 4 of the most recent 5 quarters you worked.
Claim – your account so to speak with the state that exists for a particular period of time and in reference to a particular period of unemployment. When you ‘claim’ something, you make motions to declare it yours, in this case, unemployment money.
Continued eligibility – Beyond your initial approval to receive unemployment pay (benefits) you are expected to file a continued eligibility form for every pay period, usually every week or every 2 weeks depending on the state process.
Extended benefits – additional weeks of unemployment pay declared by the state government and/or the federal government. Unemployment extensions are common when the jobless rate spikes or during periods of disaster when massive numbers of people may be unable to work (aka, emergency benefits).
Labor Department, Unemployment Office, Department of Workforce Services – all of these terms may be used by state governments to indicate the agency that handles your unemployment insurance benefits.
Pink slip – not a real document, but a cultural term commonly used to mean “lay-off.”
Unemployment benefits – the actual pay for which you are approved to receive during a period of your unemployment.
Unemployment insurance – the benefits programs offered to you by your state when you are suddenly laid-off from a job. These programs require you to apply or “file” to receive money while you’re out of work.
Unemployment line – once upon a time if you were laid-off you’d go to the unemployment office and stand in line with other unemployed workers—called “the unemployment line.” Most states now offer online and telephone claims filing services.
Unemployment tax – a percentage of wages your employer pays to the state in a tax. These monies, paid in by employers across your state, help fund the unemployment state funds that are then used as unemployment payola to you and other unemployed workers.
Wait period – the first week after you’ve applied for unemployment pay in which you receive no money.
Workforce Development, Employment Services, Job Assistance Centers – the state offices through which you will apply for work while you’re receiving unemployment pay.