What You Need to Know about Unemployment Benefits
If you lose your job, there are resources out there to help you stay afloat financially as you plan your next steps forward.
Eligibility and Applications
Unemployment benefits and eligibility requirements vary state-to-state, so choose your state to start the process of checking your eligibility and applying for benefits. Generally, unemployment benefits are available to workers who become unemployed “through no fault of their own” – which means that you may not be eligible if you were fired for cause or if you quit your job.
Other Related Benefits
Unemployment insurance is just one of the benefits that you may be eligible for. To continue your group health insurance after leaving a job, you can enroll in COBRA continuation coverage. And if illness or injury prevents you from working, you can apply for short-term or long-term disability insurance.
Should I Apply?
If you believe you are eligible for unemployment benefits, but feel reluctant to apply, I encourage you to think about why you feel this way. Are you holding shame about being unemployed? It may be helpful to talk to someone you trust who can support you in applying for the benefits you’re eligible to receive.
Take Action Now
Losing a job is a big event, and you may feel frightened or uncertain about the future. Acknowledge and deal with the emotions you’re experiencing. If you need support, talk to a trusted friend.
As you figure out your next steps forward, address your budget now and make any necessary changes. Pay for necessities and contact your creditors if you need to. Don’t agree to pay more than you can afford and seek out any public benefits that you’re eligible for.
If you believe you are eligible for a benefit, be prepared to challenge if your claim is rejected.
Plan Your Transition
We all have transitions, so take this time to consider your vision for the next three months, six months, and beyond. What milestones do you hope to accomplish at these intervals?
Here are a few more questions I want you to think through:
- What job-seeking requirements must you fulfill to be eligible for unemployment benefits?
- What information or resources do you need?
- How will you stay motivated through this transition period?
- What will you do if or when you are no longer eligible for benefits?
Remember that bumps along your professional journey are seldom your final destination. Set realistic expectations for yourself given the economic and unemployment conditions in your geographic area and field. Then get the support you need and keep yourself on track. I’m rooting for you!
Saundra Davis is a nationally recognized financial coach and educator. Her experience in the U.S. Navy, where she made every money mistake possible, and her 20 years serving community-based organizations led her to the reality that the best way to help people find a path out of poverty is to help them become their own financial expert.