Got Laid Off? Here's When You Should File for Unemployment

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • You'll generally be entitled to unemployment benefits if you're not self-employed and lose your job through no fault of your own.
  • It pays to file for unemployment benefits right away, even if you're getting severance pay from your company.

It's important to move quickly once you lose your job.

The start of 2023 hasn't exactly been great for workers in the tech space. That's because a number of large companies have implemented layoffs in an effort to cut costs. In fact, tech job tracker reports that in 2023 alone, more than 400 tech companies have cut over 110,000 jobs.

But the reality is that layoffs haven't been limited to just tech firms. And we don't know what the rest of 2023 has in store as far as downsizing efforts go.

Now, if you're self-employed or work on a contract basis, then you should know that unfortunately, you won't be eligible for unemployment benefits if you find yourself out of work. But if you work for an employer and lose your job through no fault of your own, then you generally can claim unemployment. And if you're wondering when to file for those benefits after losing a job, the answer is, as quickly as possible.

Don't wait to file for unemployment

It can take some time for your state to process your unemployment claim. So the sooner you get that application in, the sooner you might start getting your benefits.

It's especially important to apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible, especially if you don't have money in savings at the time of your layoff. If your paycheck is yanked away and you aren't entitled to severance, it could take at least a few weeks for your weekly unemployment benefits to start rolling in. And you risk racking up costly credit card debt during that time. It wouldn't be unreasonable to say that if you get laid off on a Tuesday morning, go home and file your unemployment claim on Tuesday afternoon.

What if you're getting severance?

Employers aren't always obligated to offer severance pay upon laying workers off. But many do give severance, the amount of which can vary based on factors like company size and employee tenure.

Your severance pay might impact your unemployment benefits -- but you should still file your claim as soon as possible upon getting laid off, even if you're eligible for severance. What will often happen is that your unemployment benefits will be delayed until you're done receiving that payout.

So let's say you get laid off on March 1 and your employer is giving you enough severance so you're getting paid your salary in full through April 30. In that case, you can still file your unemployment claim in March, and what might happen is that you won't receive your first weekly unemployment benefit until May, because that's when your income is going away. But to be clear, as long as you disclose that you're entitled to severance, and you put down the length of your severance as part of your application, you are allowed to claim unemployment in this sort of scenario.

All told, unemployment benefits could be a lifeline when you lose your job. So if you end up in the unfortunate situation of being laid off, your first priority should be to submit an application for unemployment benefits.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow