Unemployment Compensation Benefits Disqualifications

To collect unemployment benefits, you must be temporarily out of work through no fault of your own. If you don't meet your state's eligibility requirements, your claim for unemployment compensation benefits will be denied. But disqualifications can happen for a variety of reasons, including being fired for misconduct or violating company policies.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Eligibility for unemployment disqualifications, factors disqualifying individuals from receiving unemployment compensation benefits, can occur for a variety of reasons from having been terminated from employment for a cause to classification as an independent contractor when you thought you were an employee. Individuals may also be disqualified from unemployment benefits while receiving benefit payments for failure to meet ongoing eligibility requirements.

Read on to find out what will disqualify you from collecting unemployment. Just enter your ZIP code below to get legal advice or help.

What Are Disqualification Factors Concerning Employee Classification and Length of Employment Issues?

To be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits in the first place, your employer must classify you as an employee, and not an independent contractor. Because independent contractors are technically self-employed people, they are not eligible claimants for state unemployment benefits. Generally speaking, an individual can determine whether they are an independent contractor or an employee by looking at his or her paycheck and tax information. Employees have taxes taken out of their earnings, including social security and unemployment compensation benefit taxes, while independent contractors do not have deductions from their income.

An employee will also receive a W-2 at the end of the year for federal and state tax filing purposes, while an independent contractor receives a 1099 form. However, an employer does not get to label an individual an independent contractor arbitrarily or because they choose to do so. Certain criteria must be met in order to pay an individual as an independent contractor, and if it is found that an individual has been misclassified, the state may determine that he or she is eligible and meets the criteria for unemployment benefits. If you believe that you have been misclassified, or if your unemployment claim says you are disqualified, and as a result have been denied unemployment benefits, seek assistance from your state’s department of labor or an employment attorney.

Even if an individual is classified as an employee, he or she must work for their employer for a certain period of time in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. In most states, this minimum period of time is one year. This means that if an employee is laid off after working for his new employer for only three months, he will most likely be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. However, this time period will vary by state and economic circumstances. For example, in a recession, some states will decrease these minimums so that employees may be eligible for benefits after a shorter period of time.

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What are the circumstances around losing your job?

While many workers who are fired or laid off are eligible to receive potential unemployment benefits, there are some factors for unemployment benefit disqualifications that can render a person ineligible for receiving these payments. The exact circumstances in which unemployment payments will be approved or denied are set by state unemployment law. There are no national laws for unemployment compensation benefits, so there may be some differences depending on the location of the job loss.

In most states, however, an employee will be disqualified from unemployment benefit eligibility if he or she is fired for misconduct, willful behavior, unsatisfactory job performance, or other justifiable cause. Generally speaking, this means that if eligible workers engage in prohibited or illegal activity, violates company policy, or otherwise does something intentional that leads to termination of employment, he or she may be disqualified from receiving unemployment payments. Many unemployment benefits are weekly payments.

An employee will also be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits when he or she quits without good cause to quit. The precise definition of good cause varies by state. However, if an employee is forced to quit for a work-related reason, or is “constructively discharged” because of illegal discrimination or other illegal action taken by the employer, this will generally be defined as good cause and compelling reasons for quitting. However, most personal reasons for quitting will not qualify as good cause. Examples of such personal issues include entering school, getting married, a family emergency, a personality dispute with coworkers, being involved in a labor dispute (i.e., strike), or simple dissatisfaction with workplace conditions.

In most states, being unable to work due to illness or disability disqualifies an individual from receiving unemployment benefits. This is because unemployment benefits are paid to individuals on the condition that they look for a new work position. If an individual is completely unemployable, then he or she will be unable to meet this condition of work availability, and will therefore be disqualified from unemployment benefit eligibility.

What is a Disqualification for Action Taken While Receiving Unemployment Benefits?

As stated in the last section, unemployment benefits are paid out to individuals on the condition that they seek new employment. Simply put, if you are out of work due to layoffs, don’t expect to just be able to sit back and let the unemployment checks roll in! A state’s department of unemployment will expect an unemployed individual to be on a continuous hunt for new work during the entire time he or she is receiving benefits. Further, the individual will be expected to document the job search through claim forms provided by the unemployment office.

If an individual seeks out work and then refuses a suitable job offer, this too may disqualify the individual from receiving further unemployment benefits. Finally, any false information given on any unemployment paperwork filed with the state, including applications for unemployment and claim forms, will also disqualify an individual from receiving unemployment money.

How do you fight denial of unemployment benefits?

If you believe that you have been wrongfully denied state unemployment benefits, you should contact an employment attorney. All persons have the right to appeal the denial of benefits to the state unemployment agency. Unemployment attorneys can explain your rights and help determine your best chances of a successful appeal based on the facts of your case. When filing a claim for unemployment, make sure to provide accurate information such as your address, contact details, employers’ details, social security number, etc. If the authorities figure out you have entered inaccurate information, you may be your application for benefits may be disqualified. The guideline will be included in your disqualification notice. After submitting the application, the authorities will review the appeal and let you submit additional documentation and evidence that proves that you lost the job at no fault of your own.

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