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According to the Wall Street Journal, In a recent poll of New York State residents, almost three-quarters admitted that they were worried about finances. An additional 37% indicated that they were worried about being laid off.
Last week 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment, with some reports estimating that almost 20 million jobs will be lost during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Fortunately, the government has stepped in to alleviate some of the financial burden. However, people often gloss over the psychological toll a layoff takes.
To help you navigate this process, we’ve created the ultimate unemployment checklist to go through to make sure you maximize the benefits that are available to you.
File for unemployment ASAP.
In some cases your employer does it for you, otherwise you can do this yourself online. Literally Google “file for unemployment in [insert state].” File immediately – since it takes time for your information to be processed, it may be a few weeks before you receive your first check.
Note that each state has their own method of payment – some load funds onto a debit card, others do direct deposit, and some even let you choose.
Once you are approved, don’t forget to file on a regular basis.
The unemployment office is not the tooth fairy. You are responsible for reporting that you are applying for jobs and attesting to the fact that you remain unemployed to collect your check.
Once again, read the guidelines – in some states you must apply to 3 jobs per week and write out the details (job location, title, HR contact person….) This can be a real pain given that so many jobs just require you to click a button and submit your resume, but it’s a necessary evil that you have to get through to get that almighty dollar.
The good news is that as part of the stimulus plan the government has increased the period that you can claim benefits to 39 weeks from 26 weeks. They’re also gonna provide a $600/week increase over the course of 4 months. Continue to monitor updates on the stimulus, to see how you can benefit from this and ease some of the financial burden on yourself.
Pay attention to all communication that comes from the unemployment office.
At some point you may receive a letter or notification from the unemployment office about attending a career “workshop.” We’re gonna be real for a second:
- 99.999% of the time these are demoralizing and make you feel like shit.
- The person leading it probably hates his or her life.
- You might start questioning your life and your choices at some point during or after this event.
- If you’re young and / or highly educated, you may feel doubly awkward.
- You probably won’t learn much of value in these sessions besides finding new ways to cure boredom.
There’s no nice way around this – these sessions suck, but you MUST ATTEND THEM. If you don’t the state may withhold unemployment benefits from you. So find a song that you can sing to yourself for however long the sessions last, and just grin and bear it.
WTF is COBRA
Health care coverage may not be the first thing that you worry about when you get laid off, but it’s just as important as making sure you file for unemployment.
Chances are, when you were employed, your employer covered your healthcare. You might be lucky if you fall into one of these 2 categories:
- If you are 26 or under, you are still eligible for coverage under your parents.
- If you have a partner who is still employed, depending on the open enrollment period, you may be able to be covered later on.
If these 2 options are not available to you, you may consider purchasing health coverage through COBRA. I know, couldn’t they have picked a more senseless name?
COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, and allows you to temporarily maintain the same employer-based health plan from your previous firm. However- it’s significantly more expensive, and is viable for a limited period of time. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely something that you should consider.
Considering that one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy in the United States is due to medical expenses, do you really want to take the risk of being uninsured?
Start relying on that emergency fund.
If you have this in place, pat yourself on the back. It’s precisely moments like these that emergency funds were created for.There’s more to being unemployed than claiming checks and dealing with administrative items.
Fortunately, we’ve created a guide on How to Manage your Time When Unemployed to get you into tip top job recruiting shape, and making sure you don’t forget to prioritize your mental health.
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