Employment Law

If I Get Fired Can I Get Unemployment Benefit?

25 October, 2023


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You are wondering, “if I get fired can I get unemployment benefit”. But that is not the only doubt in your mind, is it? You might also wonder, “can I get unemployment if I was fired for performance?”

Well, you are not the only one asking these questions. Quite a few of us feel confused when dealing with employment laws

First of all, let us start this conversation by making it clear that unemployment, although tough, does not have to be scary. You or a loved one may be in between jobs in search of a better opportunity. 

Moreover, you must know that the social system and the government have got your back. To an extent, the US government will support you to the best of its abilities till you are back on your feet.

Through this article, we will answer your doubts. The article will be divided into multiple sections based on questions like:

a. How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

b. How long does it take to receive unemployment benefits after applying?

c. What is the maximum duration of unemployment benefits?

d. If I get fired can I get unemployment benefits under US law?

e. Can I get unemployment if I quit my job voluntarily?

f.  Is unemployment income taxable?

There are answers to more questions in detail. Read on to find out.

What Are Unemployment Benefits?

Unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance, or simply “unemployment” under US law are forms of financial support. Equal employment opportunity laws have your back. 

Eligible people who have unfortunately lost their jobs and are looking for new ones can get support through this facility. 

Usually, only when a company terminates you without your fault can you get unemployment benefits. They are temporary financial assistance that stops once you find a new job. It is an aid from the government that lets you get your basic living while you look for a job replacement.

If I get fired, can I get unemployment benefits? What Are The Criteria?

If the authorities fire you from your job, unemployment benefits will protect you. It allows you to protect yourself and support yourself and your dependents while you search for another job.  However, whether or not you will get benefits, how much you’ll get, it all could vary. Depending on what the facts of your case are, the authorities will check why your services were terminated.

The best way to answer this question, “if I get fired can I get unemployment benefit?” would be to understand the eligibility criteria for unemployment benefits under the law of the United States. 

For example, you should be eligible to work in the US. For that, you will need to be at least 18 years of age, a citizen, or hold a work visa. Illegal immigrants are automatically excluded from this list.

Now, let us go through the criteria one at a time.

Remember, if your boss fires you, it doesn’t stop you from filing for unemployment automatically. Multiple other factors come into play. These are the general eligibility criteria for unemployment benefits that most states follow.

You Should Have Worked Before For The Base Period

Legally, this criterion is what we call, “work history”. It is to prove that you have had a job before and worked for a respectable amount of time (called the base period). You will need to produce pay stubs to show that it was a paid job that paid at least the minimum wage.

A “base period” should contain at least 12-18 months of employment to be eligible for unemployment benefits.

The No Fault Reason

To qualify for unemployment benefits, the government needs to know that you lost your job through fault of your own. So, if you end up losing your job due to misconduct, lack of performance, or quitting, you will be ineligible. 

Allegations of misconduct or low performance are subject to evaluation at the hands of competent authorities.

Acceptable Conditions For Quitting Jobs Under Unemployment Benefits

These are the cases when some states may allow you to draw unemployment benefits even if you quit your job and were not fired.

a.      Poor working conditions that were unbearable or hostile.

b.      Compelling cases where you had no other choice, such as a spouse’s relocation from their job.

c.      Medical reasons along with documentation to back it up.  

d.      If you had to care for an immediate family member who is seriously sick or injured.

You Must Be Actively Looking For A Job Replacement

Unemployment benefits help people manage their basic expenditures while they are looking for other jobs. So, if you want to claim benefits, you will have to prove that you are physically and mentally capable of working. 

You should be available and willing to work. Also, you will have to keep giving proof to the authorities that you are searching for jobs.

You Should Be In Need Of Financial Aid

States evaluate your financial condition to determine whether you are in need of the unemployment benefit. For example, if an heiress with a billion dollars to their name and bank accounts applies for unemployment. 

Their claims will obviously not stand well. The state will instead provide help to someone who is truly in need and unable to sustain themselves. There are various standards that the authorities will test you on. For example, earnings criteria, monetary eligibility tests, etc.

Ideally, you should qualify for unemployment benefits. Now, let us answer your question one final time.

What Happens If You Were Fired for Cause?

If I get fired, can I get unemployment benefits? If the authorities claim misconduct on your behalf, you cannot claim benefits for unemployment. Please remember that the state’s guidelines are the determinants in any case. 

Misconduct like stealing, lying, or drug and alcohol abuse could immediately disqualify you. Tampering with records, going against company policy, sexual harassment, racist behavior, all of it could disqualify you from applying for benefits. 

Finally, if you feel like you need help filing for unemployment benefits or even taking action against the company that fired you, visit an employment lawyer!

Final Word

To conclude, let us touch upon all we talked about in this article. So, to answer one of your most asked questions, “If I get fired, can I get unemployment benefits?”  Yes, You Can.

Remember, you will be eligible for unemployment benefits as long as they fired you on acceptable grounds. We talked about the acceptable grounds in detail in te article above. Thus, carefully go through the details and try to see if your reasons match the ones we mentioned above. 

Also, do remember that employment at will means that the employment can end at any time, at the will of either party. Unemployment benefit laws do suggest that you only get the benefit if they fire you through no fault of your own.

So, if they fire you because you do not fit the role, due to cutbacks, or even for a dearth of skills, you are eligible for benefits. Technically, this should answer your questions on performance. If you meet their criterion, but they feel you don’t fit the role, go ahead and apply. 

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Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.

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