Unemployment insurance is meant to help people while they are between jobs.
Yet an expanding share of out-of-work people are missing out on that safety net, often unnecessarily.
Details of state unemployment insurance programs vary; generally, the government provides benefits to eligible workers who have lost a job "through no fault of their own," for a maximum of 26 weeks.
The first rule: You have to apply for it.
In the last five years, the percentage of unemployed people to file for payments has dropped by nearly 20 percent. In 2016, more than 70 percent of unemployed people went without those benefits, according to a recent National Employment Law Project report.
One major reason for the decline, experts say, is that people assume — often, wrongly — that they're not eligible for unemployment benefits. So they don't bother applying.