How To Contact Your State Unemployment Office – Tips for Applying for Benefits

Where to Apply for Unemployment

Tips for Finding Your State Unemployment Office and Applying for Benefits

One of the very first pieces of information you need when you’re suddenly laid off is: Where and how do you contact your state unemployment office?

Every state has its own unemployment system, offices, and specific rules and procedures for applying and qualifying for unemployment compensation.

Tip: some states’ unemployment offices go by other names. For example, Alabama’s unemployment office is part of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. Just be aware.


Find Out If You Are Eligible For Unemployment 

Click this link to find out if you are eligible to file for unemployment: 

Am I Eligible To Collect Unemployment Benefits?


State Application Requirements for Your Unemployment Claim

The Unemployment Compensation program is a joint program funded both by the states and by the federal government. However, you apply for unemployment and receive benefits directly from the state and in accordance with its specific eligibility rules.

State unemployment offices procedures can vary based on the following:

  • Locations
  • Qualifications for unemployment compensation
  • Procedures for filing for unemployment claims
  • Ways in which you can file, ie. via telephone, online, or in person
  • Amount of unemployment benefits to which you are eligible
  • Length of time you can collect unemployment benefits
  • Unemployment extensions
  • Job and workforce requirements and expectations

In other words, the procedures and application process for filing for unemployment in Alabama may differ from those in New York. Precisely why you must contact your state unemployment office directly for specific filing details.

Where to Apply for Unemployment

The days of “standing in the unemployment line” are pretty much over. Most states invite you to file for unemployment benefits in one of two ways:

  • File an unemployment claim with an online application available directly through your state unemployment office website. Beware unemployment scams.
  • Call your state unemployment telephone claims center. Most have very specific hours, usually Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You can find phone numbers for these online directly through your state unemployment website or in the government pages of your phone book.

If you are filing during a peak unemployment period—there are a lot of people out of work-- expect system bottlenecks: telephone lines may be backed up and online applications may take a bit longer to process.

Best advice for filing unemployment:

As soon as you have been laid off from work—even the next day--call your state telephone claims office or apply for unemployment online. Don’t delay. Why can’t you just kick back and relax or de-stress for a week before you wrestle with the unemployment office? Your benefits can suffer if you procrastinate in the filing process. AND you’ll really delay your first payment. Remember, in most states you have one full week of zero unemployment compensation—unofficially called the “waiting period.” Waste more time and you’ll be without any income for weeks.

  • Locate information for contacting your state unemployment office
  • Gather together the information you need to file a claim
  • Call or apply online ASAP.

THEN you can relax a bit and plan your next strategy for confidently getting back on your feet.


To find your state's website, use our comprehensive list of all of the state unemployment websites, click here:  State Unemployment Websites
For our state unemployment directory, which includes eligibility information and instructions on how to file for unemployment, click here:  State Unemployment Directory with Instructions


# Doreen 2010-09-02 16:19
Hi, I think I had a dream that I could contact someone who would respond, because when I called the "hot" line to check on my claim the message I got after 20 minutes was sorry we do not have a person available to take your call. Perhaps I should apply for a job here!
Anyway ..... I thank you for your help. I did get conffirmation that I will get 26 weeks of pay (I do not plan on using it ) but I have been off work as of 8/5/2010 and am just wondering when my check will come? This is so frusterating becasue I have worked my entire life and I would think I could get a check faster. Today is 9/2/2010 my bills were do a long time ago.
Thank You again for your concern.
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# oddy 2010-09-02 17:48
we are on the same boat .. i was discharged from my job for the dumbest reason ever .. jzt because i called in sick .. well , things happen for a reason i guess.... but yeah i have tons of bills to pay for and still have no one assigned to my claim .. and was told that it can take upto 6 weeks or more for a responce ... yes i know it sucks ... but theres nthn we can do ... but just wait or have good luck of finding a JOB asap ...
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# mike 2010-09-07 12:22
i feel yall pain cause ive been waiting 4 my money 2 they tell me i hav an pending issue wit mine GOD HELP US ALL
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# Charles R. 2010-09-13 07:58
I was laid off in february 2010 and have exhausted my initial 26 weeks of unemployment benefits and do not know how to go about filing an extension. The numbers provided by the department of industrial relations are a joke as they provide no information other than prompting you to call another number and it's the same old thing! Can someone please there tell me how to proceed with filing an extension as I am eligible for this money and need it to pay for health insurance and mortgage payment.

Thank you for your help
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# Eileen 2010-10-10 17:36
Filed on line 3 weeks ago. Wjould like to know status of my claim. Havent received any paper work. How long does this process take? Haven't found a job yet. Have worked forever. Need help now. Thanks, Eileen
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# Charlie N 2010-10-11 15:46
I applied for Kansas unemployment benefits on 08-09-10 and have not received any unemployment yet. The website says it has been delayed because of a question about my claim. I have spent a lot of time making menu selections on their telephone hell, never gotten a human to talk to, then got hung up on because there were too many people waiting! I need a human to talk to so I can find out what is going on and when I'll get my money. The bills are piling up. Please help!
Thank you,
Charlie N
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# michele 2010-10-27 08:57
I'm dealing with New Jersey unemployment. I'm hopeful things will get resolved soon. Whenever I call their phone numbers, they immediately give a message of "Due to the high volume of calls, we can't take your call at this time." Call repeatedly back to back. The fourth or fifth time, it will let you go through. It works for me every time. Then you're still stuck on hold for 45 minutes, but at least you're not automatically disconnected. Hope this helps!
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# angela 2010-10-27 11:32
Please help I am running out of time. I need to get a "Zero Benefit Form" from the state of NJ showing I earn no wages so I will qualify for home heating assistance. I have been given the run around by unemployment spent hours on the phone waiting to speak to someone and then either been disconnected or told I have the wrong dept and hung up on.
How do I go about getting this form?
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# Wayne 2010-11-16 11:34
If my job relocates to another state and I do not want to move. Am I entitled to unemployment benefits in New Jersey? My company claims this is considered resigning and therefore i will nor be entitled or the state will need to decide.
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# Adam W 2010-11-17 14:14

how CAN THIS PERSON get UNEMPLOYMENT WHILE in jail??? I know you hva eiot be avalable for work NOT having your meth heaqd friends calling in so you can get a big sac after you get out of jail!!! I cannot even get a job in Nevavda Of course I am a white US CITIZEN WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH. I AM SCREWED! Si how do you report someone who received Unemployment benefits all piling up for eight or nine weeks while he sat in CCDC. I call the nevada state unemployment office and get a busy signal for days now! Anyhelp??
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# DONNA 2010-11-30 15:16
I was told 6 weeks ago it will take 8 weeks,after 8 weeks I was told up to 10 weeks, guessed it, it's 10 weeks and still no answer here in NC.I would assume if you are an employee of the state and this would have an answer.
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# thomas s 2010-12-01 08:12
hi i was filing for unemployment i was working for this daily labor program and i was wondering if i was eligable to get unemployment i worked 498
hours b4 they laid me off
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# Mae P. 2011-01-14 10:46
I filled for unemployment compensation in Minnesota and now live in Georgia. I understand that I am required to come into a GA unemployment (GA dept. of Labor) and register. I received a letter from you stating that I have ten days from 01/07/11 to register. It has been impossible to come into an office to register this week due to the horrific weather conditions, and Monday is MLK holdiay and your office is clodes is my understanding. Therefore, I will be unable to make the ten day requirement stated in the letter I received from the GA Dept. of Labor. What is the next step?

I am planning to come to register first thing next week. Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you
Mae P
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# Mae P 2011-01-14 10:53
Unable to come and register (requirement after coming from Minnesota to Georgia) due to terrific weather conditions. I will not make the ten day cutoff because of previous factor. I will come in first part of next week.
Any other suggestions?

Mae P
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# Jordan 2011-02-14 01:41
I have filed for unemployment 4 months ago in Wisconsin, I have enough wages to qualify, but there is an eligibility issue on my claim, I have now waited 13.5 weeks to get a determination from the unemployment office they still havent gotten my issue resolved. I contacted my past employer and they arnt contesting benefits because I was laid off due to a plant closing, having to wait this long is unacceptable Roberta Gassmann the secertary for Wisconsin Unemployment needs to do something about this soon.
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# Sam 2011-02-23 13:31
I was terminated from my job when my std ended.I am still waiting for a decision. I worked in Boston. Am I eledgible?
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# maria 2011-02-24 09:08
Hello, where do you get the direct deposit receipt of your unemployment benefits in NJ? Thank you
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# Maria 2011-05-09 10:17
I have an unemployment benefits right now, but I want to open corporation to start company which will brings money possible in 6 month. How this will influence my unemployment benefits NOW?
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# Marina 2011-10-26 11:22
I graduated with a Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine in Dec. 2010 and became a California licensed acupuncturist in April 2011. I am working on starting my practice, I am also looking for employment as an acupuncturist. In addition, I have over 15 years of experience in commercial insurance, several insurance certifications and I am seeking employment in the insurance field. I have had no success in either endeavor. I am either told I have too much experience for the insurance jobs or I have been out the industry for too long (since mid 2005) or I am told I do not have enough experience to be hired as a staff acupuncturist. Am eligible for unemployment since I can't find a job in either field I am qualified for? Any information would be helpful. Thank you.
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# Jennie 2012-02-29 15:32
If I got laid off on a Tuesday, why does the unemployment start on a Sunday? What happens to the 3 days before that Sunday? Do I not get unemployment for those 3 days?
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# Sherrie R. 2012-03-01 23:22
I quit my retail job due to hours being cut from around 25 hrs down to as little as 5 hrs a week. Can I file unemployment in Texas
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# Amy 2012-10-21 14:54
I'm recently collecting unemployment. I haven't been able to find a job yet. I would like to go back to school to advance my skills. I cant get through to talk to anyone maybe you could help. would I be able to collect unemployment while going to school?
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# brad 2012-10-23 07:35
if you can do a claim online why can't you reopen your claim online says you can then at the end of the questions it says to call and i am on day 3 trying to get through to unemployment office. i can't get through on phone like it says i have to so i can't reopen my claim and can't claim hours i was short. if everything else is online then please please make reopening claims online too so we don't sit for hours on the phone on hold or days trying to get through so we can do our claim online. ok back to the phone to keep trying today to get a person so i can reopen my claim and do my claim.
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# Gary 2012-12-09 14:56
Wow this is a joke I lost my job on oct 21 when I got a letter saying I was disqaulified I contacted my. Former employer they told me that unemployment never even contacted them and my claim should had been approved because noone ever even contacted them WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE IM ABOUT TO LOOSE MY HOME STOP. PLAYING WITH PEOPLES. LIVEs
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# shawn 2013-06-28 13:13
i was laid off on the 10th of june. today is the28th of june. no one has contacted my employer at this time. my status is still pending but when i try to do my weekly cert. it says an answer i put may have me as ineligible? either way i am stuck in pending status.. have been trying to call every number you guys give to no avail.
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