Unemployment insurance was never intended to support someone for the long haul. The cash benefits are designed to tide someone over until he or she can find another job. Once your claim has been approved, your state agency will impose conditions you must meet to keep the checks coming. You'll probably be asked to file again every week or every 2 weeks (you might be able to do this online). You may be required to register with the state's employment service.
You'll be expected to be "actively" looking for a job. You may have to document that you've applied for or interviewed for a certain number of jobs. If you're going to school, you may be asked to document your class attendance; if you're interviewing, you may need to report any job offers. You will probably need to report money earned through part-time or temporary work, too.
In most states, basic unemployment benefits run out after 26 weeks. In times of high unemployment such as economic recessions, extended benefits may be available, usually depending upon a state's unemployment rate. In tough times, the federal government may provide money for extended benefits.
To apply for unemployment insurance extended benefits, you deal with the same folks and procedures you've been using to get basic benefits. State agencies should notify people who are eligible for extended benefits. Not everyone who was found eligible for the basic 26 weeks of benefits will be eligible for extended benefits. States determine eligibility for extended benefits looking at such factors as your initial eligibility and how actively you have been seeking work. In some states, those who qualify can receive unemployment checks for as long as 99 weeks: the 26 standard weeks plus four tiers of extended benefits that can total an additional 53 weeks.
Keep reading for more information on jobs and unemployment.