Can I get unemployment benefits if i've been fired?

Unemployment benefits, mandated by federal law but issued by state governments, are period payments made to individuals who have lost a job after being laid off. In order to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, an individual must meet a number of requirements, the foremost of which is the circumstances under which they left their previous job. Only individuals who left involuntarily, but were not dismissed for cause, are eligible to receive unemployment benefits.


Unemployment benefits are only available to people who have been laid off due to structural changes in the company that have eliminated their position. For example, if a company lays off a number of workers because it is choosing to downsize, this is considered a layoff. In all cases, an individual will not be eligible for benefits if the company that fired him replaced him with a new person who will perform the exact same tasks.

Firing for Cause

If an individual is fired for cause, meaning he violated the terms of his contract or failed to live up the standards of his employer, he is not eligible for unemployment benefits. However, in the event of layoffs, if a company chooses to fire one person instead of another because the laid-off employee was not performing as well, the laid-off employee will still likely be eligible for benefits, as his position was eliminated.

Other Requirements

In addition to being fired for reasons unrelated to his performance, an employee, while receiving benefits, must also be actively be searching for work. If the employee is not searching for work or if he makes himself unavailable to take a position offered him, benefits can be revoked. In addition, the employee must be deemed eligible by the state to receive employment. Disabled persons who are unable to work cannot receive unemployment benefits.


In order for an individual to receive unemployment benefits, the company that fired him must be willing to attest to the fact that he was fired due to reasons unrelated to his performance or his actions while on the job. The precise method by which the state attempts to verify this will differ. However, in most cases, the employer will be contacted to confirm that the employee was not fired due to his own actions.

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About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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