Why You Should Apply For Unemployment, Even If You Quit or Were Fired

Unemployment insurance, employment insurance, social security, job seekers allowance – no matter what you call it, having to rely on it is never ideal. It means that you have lost your job. And that usually means you’ve also lost a big source of your income, if not your only source.

Even if you know your job is about to come to an end due to seasonal work or the end of a contract, being unemployed is a stressful situation to be in. With no income, how can you pay your bills? Or your rent? How can you afford to eat?

This is where Unemployment Insurance comes into play.

Unemployment Insurance is designed to provide short term financial support to help people that have lost their job while they are searching for a new one.

(Please note: For simplicity sake, I will be using the term Unemployment Insurance in this post to mean any payment made by the government to an unemployed person.)

“Through Not Fault of Your Own”

It’s common knowledge that if you are laid off from a job or out of work because your contract came to end, that you qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Most people, however, don’t realize that you could still qualify for Unemployment Insurance even if you quit your job or were fired, depending on the circumstances.

Far too often people that are eligible to receive benefits assume that they aren’t, and therefore they don’t even bother to apply for unemployment insurance.

But according to Canada’s Employment Insurance website, you can “apply for benefits if you have lost your job through no fault of your own.”

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Labor’s website states “Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own, and meet certain other eligibility requirements.”

The key words in both cases being “through no fault of your own”.

Neither explicitly say that you have to have been laid off in order to qualify, but this is what most people assume.  

You Always Have the Right to Apply for Unemployment Insurance

No matter what you’ve been told, everyone has the right to apply for unemployment. It gives you a chance to explain the situation and provide any relevant documentation. It’s up to the agency to determine if you lost your job through no fault of your own or not, and if you meet the eligibility requirements.

The terms and conditions for qualifying for unemployment Insurance will vary, depending on where you live. But if you feel that you lost your job through no fault of your own, isn’t applying worth a shot?

What If You Were Fired?

If, for example, you were fired due to unsatisfactory job performance or for lacking the skills required for the job, you will likely qualify. So you should apply for unemployment insurance.

Generally speaking, in order to deny you benefits, it’s up to your previous employer to prove that you were fired due to negligence (such as regularly not showing up for work without calling) or misconduct (such as stealing from the company).

I know for a fact that you can receive Unemployment Insurance after being fired, because it happened to me last year. My former, horrible boss fired me while I was still on probation, after I failed to meet her completely arbitrary and impossible to meet deadlines. My record of employment even stated that I was “dismissed”. But, because I was fired through no fault of my own – and had the documentation to prove it – I was approved.

Related Article: 15 Ways to Survive Financially While Unemployed

What If You Quit?

If you quit your job for a good or just cause, you might qualify for Unemployment Insurance. Especially if you can prove it.

What is considered to be a good cause will vary, depending on which state or province you live in. But generally speaking, a good or just cause applies when you had no other reasonable choice but to leave the job.

There are a lot of things that could be considered a just cause. This could include being the victim of harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, or bullying in the workplace. It could be due to a significant change to the job duties or a significant reduction in hours or pay rate. Or you’re expected to work in unsafe conditions. Or your boss simply isn’t paying you.

Whatever the reason, as long as you have you tried to fix or adapt to the changes before quitting and can prove it, you should apply for unemployment insurance as you will likely be approved.

But please don’t confuse a “just cause” for quitting with a “valid reason” for quitting. Unfortunately, these are not the same thing. For example, having no room to advance or get a promotion might be a valid reason to quit a job, but in the eyes of Unemployment Insurance, it would not be considered a just cause to quit.  

Collect Your Documentation

If you were fired or quit your job and believe that it was, in fact, through no fault of your own, you will need to provide a detailed account of the facts.

Ideally, if things at your job have been going badly for a while, you have been documenting these details all along. But if not, start going through your emails, texts, notes, and whatever else you have available that can support your claim.

Wherever possible, include dates, times, names of who was involved, names of any witnesses, any supporting documentation, and of course, the details of what happened. The more factual information you have, the better.

Supporting documentation might include your contract, your union agreement, your employee handbook, copies of labour laws, time sheets, paystubs, email correspondence, written warnings, performance reviews, witness statements, medical records, doctor’s notes, and photographs.

When you apply for unemployment insurance, you will have the opportunity to tell your side of the story, and bring forward these details.

The agency will take this information and conduct an investigation into your claim. This will include contacting the employer to find out if you are entitled to receive benefits or not. Remember, if you were fired, it’s up to your former employer to provide evidence that your termination was justified.

You Always Have the Right to Appeal

If your claim is denied, you also have the right to file an appeal.

This could give you the chance to provide any additional documentation that you may have missed or clarify things that you have submitted.

Your claim will be reviewed by another agency employee. They will look at any new information provided, review the original decision, and do any additional fact-finding as needed.

I don’t think anyone wants to be in a position where they have to rely on Unemployment Insurance. It’s a tough position to be in. But if you are unemployed through no fault of your own (even if you quit or were fired), there are supports available to you. You just have to apply for them.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a lawyer or unemployment expert. If you need to, please contact a professional regarding your claim.

YOUR TURN: Did you know that you can apply for unemployment insurance even if you quit or were fired? Have you ever been in that situation? How did it turn out for you?

Photo by Marc Mueller from Pexels

Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.

4 thoughts on “Why You Should Apply For Unemployment, Even If You Quit or Were Fired”

  1. a friend of mine was laid off and the job tried to buy her off with 2 months of severance so she wouldn’t apply for unemployment. She still applied for unemployment, but she did wait until after the severance ended so she was in compliance with the law.

    I’ve had a friend initially denied unemployment but after fighting, they won the appeal. Unless your work has documented how terrible an employee you were (like not showing up for work or doing your reasonable job duties or breaking the law), you are likely to win on appeal, although each US state is different so it’s not a guarantee.

  2. This is so cool! I totally assumed you couldn’t apply if you’ve been fired or quit. Thanks so much for sharing! I also suspect I need to broaden my view of possibilities in general. I never would have though you could deny a claim! I need to raise my ‘rule following’ blinders a little bit. Thank you again.

  3. Very informative. I have been trying to get my husband to apply for unemployment since he quit his job several months ago, but he doesn’t want to -despite our dwindling bank account. Maybe he thinks he can’t because he quit. Either way, I am going to try to get him to apply for this until he can get another job.

    • Hi Sarah, I hope you can get him to apply. It never hurts, and if approved, having that buffer sure makes a tough situation a little bit better. Good luck!


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