Amount and Duration of Benefits

Unemployment benefits don't last forever -- and they won't replace your whole paycheck. These benefits are intended to provide a temporary safety net while recipients look for new jobs. And, to make sure benefit recipients have a strong incentive to find and take other work, the amounts don't tend to be very generous.

State law determines how much you'll get, and for how long:

  • Amount of benefits. Each state has its own formula for calculating benefit amounts. A common method is to pay about half of what the claimant used to earn, subject to a maximum benefit amount.  
  • Duration of benefits. Most states pay benefits for up to 26 weeks. In times of high unemployment, the federal government provides extended benefit programs that can increase this total significantly.

The articles and resources in this section will help you figure out how much you'll receive if you are eligible for unemployment, and for how long.