Virginia’s unemployment rate remains high at 5.7% but is still lower than the national average at 8.2% as of June 2012. If you have found yourself among the 246,209 Virginia residents who are currently out of work, take time to educate yourself about the state’s unemployment benefits eligibility and application process. Most people tend to associate unemployment benefits with those who have been laid off, but did you know that, depending on the circumstances, you may also be eligible for benefits if you were fired or quit?
If you are unemployed involuntarily and through no fault of your own such as a layoff or shutdown, you will likely be eligible for unemployment benefits. If you resigned or were terminated, you can still file a claim for unemployment benefits, however benefits eligibility will be dependent on the results of a thorough investigation to determine the specific reason for your separation from the company. During this process, a hearing officer will conduct a fact finding interview which allows both the claimant and the employer a chance to tell their side of the story and provide any supporting documentation regarding the circumstances of the termination. If it is found that the claimant was discharged due to misconduct or willful violation of a company policy then he will generally be disqualified from receiving benefits. If, however, the claimant was let go for a lesser reason, such as not being a “good fit’ for the company without any record of actual performance or disciplinary problems, there is a good chance that the claimant will be qualified for benefits. In addition, a claimant who has voluntarily resigned may be awarded benefits if she can prove that she resigned due to a hostile or discriminatory environment or due to disability that prevented her from performing the essential tasks required of the job.
The actual amount of the unemployment benefits you are entitled to varies based on your salary and length of employment but will be between $54 and $378 per week. Claimants must have earned at least $2,700 during the highest 2 quarters of the base period in order to be awarded benefits and naturally higher salaries will be associated with higher benefit award amounts. Unemployment benefits may be payable for a period of 12 to 26 weeks, although some exceptions may warrant an extension of up to 52 weeks.
File a claim
If you are ready to initiate the unemployment claim process, visit your local Virginia Unemployment Commission office or submit your claim online. You will also be required to register for work no later than 2 weeks after filing your claim. Upon approval of unemployment benefits, you must continue to file a claim each week to verify that you are still unemployed, actively seeking work and eligible to continue to receive benefits. Once you have found another job, you will simply report your new employment information to the VEC and discontinue your weekly benefit claims. Please keep in mind that it is illegal to provide false information and if you are found guilty of doing so could face fines of up to $100 along with imprisonment for up to 30 days.