The country has gone through one of the toughest periods in its history. Not only has the current public health crisis cost lives, but it has also taken a terrible economic toll. It’s a deadly combination of losing lives and livelihoods. But whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. That’s the attitude that many people should have when coming out of any crisis. What happened isn’t just a health crisis that ravaged the entire country. It is a painful wake-up call that our habits as responsible citizens have to change for the better. Though we’re about to talk about unemployment benefits, you’ve got to prepare for a day when there will be none!
In adapting to the new reality we live in, we also have to have objective awareness. There’s no use in indulging ourselves with sugar-coated fantasies. Though America’s economy is recovering, we’re still not out of the woods yet! People still in dire need of unemployment benefits! There’s a lot of confusion as to whether or not they even qualify for assistance. Luckily, there are some tips available that can help you. With them, you’ll be able to easily navigate unemployment assistance a little better. You’ll see how it relates to your situation.
List Your Situation as an Emergency
Regardless of whether or not your situation “qualifies” as an emergency, you will still want to check that box. You will then be able to explain how your situation is an emergency. If it meets the criteria of your state, you can make the process go much faster!
If you are living with a roommate but you each are completely responsible for your own expenses, then that can be a benefit for your unemployment application. You can provide a letter from your roommate stating that you two keep expenses completely separate. This will allow you to not have their income affect your application.
You may not know all of your qualifications for all of the types of assistance options available. However, you will want to act as though you are already qualified. These are free applications so the worst that can happen is that you get denied benefits. However, you may be in for a pleasant surprise if you receive the assistance that you may not have thought was within your eligibility.
While this may be one of the most stressful time periods that you have had to endure, there are assistance options available to those in need. Make sure to apply for all types of assistance, even the ones that you may not think you are eligible for. You can also look into getting free certifications/training classes that can boost your resume! Take your time, and you can eventually get to a point where you feel more comfortable and secure in your situation.
Don’t Procrastinate & Plan Ahead
Being unemployed isn’t something that everyone plans for. It goes without saying that it’s a situation that everyone would like to avoid. Nonetheless, it is important that if you qualify, you file your claim for unemployment benefits as soon as possible. The US Department of Labor asserts that it can sometimes take up to 3 weeks for the first unemployment payment to arrive. The earlier you apply, the less likely that you’ll have to touch your credit cards. It’s also essential generally to have 6 months’ worth of funds as a financial cushion. Remember that it’s always important to put a little money aside to help you through tough times.
Keep Yourself Updated
You think that just because you filled out a request or an application, the fun is over. The fun is just beginning. Many states require that you send your claim for unemployment benefits on a weekly basis. You have continually filed in order to receive the benefits. Pay attention to the laws having to do with unemployment benefits in your state. Having an eye for detail about this is extremely important. Keep track of the activities in your bank account and be careful going through the mail.
Pay Attention to Details
We’re all human and we all make mistakes. But mistakes or inaccuracies on your unemployment claim are serious. They could seriously jeopardize your chances of continuing to receive them. Make sure that you put the extra effort into looking through your file before submitting it. You never know what long-term consequences this might cause.
Document Your Job Hunt
You may not know this, but lots require that you prove that you are actively searching for another job. New York’s state government requires that beneficiaries have to submit proof of three different job hunt tasks they did per week. Since the pandemic did terrible things to the economy, these conditions might have changed. Nonetheless, when in doubt, just ask.
See If You Can Get An Extension
Unemployment benefits always have a time limit. Though most states offer 26 weeks, some offer as little as 13 weeks. If you’ve spent almost all your benefits and still have an unstable career situation, your state may approve an additional 13 weeks. It always depends on the performance of the local economy. If there are high levels of unemployment, it is very likely that they would approve an extension. The best thing to do is ask the state authorities. They are responsible for overseeing the unemployment benefits program in your locality. Apply with confidence! If you find that it is possible for them to give you an extension on your benefits, that’s great. This will definitely give you a financial boost.
Develop Your Skills
If you’re not too tight on money, perhaps it might be in your best interests to work on developing your skills. This is the best that you can do to ensure that your career life runs smoothly moving forward. Try to take classes or participate in an activity for professional development. It is, of course, essential that you don’t overspend on course fees. Remember that self-development is an essential part of your long-term plan. It will ensure that you’ll have better career stability and a promising future.
Use Your Emergency Funds Only When Necessary
If you haven’t saved up an emergency fund, you’ve made a big mistake. The funds that you can get from the unemployment benefits can always run out. There’s no certainty about what can happen tomorrow. One day the company you’re working in is doing well, the next it’s out of business. Economics is always uncertain. The experts in the field can only use theoretical models to project economic performance. There is only so much that it is in your hands. Those who think that they can control their destiny have an idealistic view of reality. Many things in life are out of your hands.
Filing Traditional Unemployment Claims
We know this must be a stressful time for you and your family. But the good news is you’re not alone. There are many different benefits programs that are here to lend you a helping hand. Unemployment benefits can definitely give you the boost that you need. In addition, it will get you through this transitional period in your life. There are a couple of principles that you should keep in mind. They are important when trying to file your unemployment claims. Please keep them in mind to ensure that the application process is successful.
Know the Eligibility Requirements
The federal government has some general principles for the distribution of unemployment benefits. But state governments are the ones that get into details. So when applying for the benefits, you’ll be primarily dealing with your state government authorities. In your unemployment claim, you must make the following evident:
- First, you have to prove that it isn’t your fault you’re unemployed. This means that it is only acceptable for you to receive benefits if you get laid off. This is also applicable if the company you were working in closed. Resignations and terminations would technically render the applicant ineligible.
- Second, you have to satisfy the work requirements that you live in. As the policies in different states may vary, some require that you had to have worked full-time for at least a year. Some of them also have wage requirements as well. Refer to the state government website to learn the details or ask those responsible.
You should also take note that if you are self-employed or work as a private contractor, you are not eligible. You could be able to get pandemic-related benefits as we’ll discuss later.
Steps to Filing Your Claim
Step 1: Learn more about the details of your state’s unemployment benefits program. You need to know much you’re getting and how long it will be able to sustain you. Take note that if you worked in a different state than in the one you live in, you will have to apply in the state where your job is.
Step 2: Once you’ve made sure all the required paperwork is ready, you’re all set to file your claim. The state government’s website is the best place to go through the filing process. In some cases, you’ll have to go through the filing process on the phone or in person.
Step 3: Once your filing is complete, your first check should arrive after two or three weeks. Make sure that they have adequate bank information if you choose to enroll in direct deposit.
Step 4: Make plans to file for unemployment claims regularly. Only one application doesn’t cut it. You could possibly lose your unemployment benefits if you don’t keep filing on a regular basis. Take note that it’s possible that you may be eligible to receive benefits under the CARES Act. You may apply for additional benefits should your regular funding runs dry.
The federal government invested a lot of effort in helping Americans during their time of need, specifically during the first and second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of their efforts in assisting Americans during that time was the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provided Americans with up to 79 weeks of unemployment benefits. This initiative was designed for individuals who were eligible for regular unemployment benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance included assistance for private contractors, self-employed individuals, and individuals with limited employment history. Throughout the process, it had to be clear that the applicant was suffering from unemployment at the time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, there were other qualifying factors that could have landed you these benefits. These include:
- Being COVID-19 positive or trying to find a diagnosis.
- A member of your household has COVID-19
- You are taking care of a loved one or a member of your household who COVID-19 positive.
- You are the parent who cannot go to school because of COVID-19.
- The site of employment for you is unreachable due to COVID-19 (offices closing, etc.)
- You had to resign from your job because of COVID-19.
- As a sole proprietor, the measures to counter COVID-19 spreading have caused financial hardship. And you’re not able to continue working.
However, you should keep in mind that the additional unemployment benefits or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance expired on September 4th, 2021. There are still standard unemployment benefits that are available across all the states. But, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is no longer available. On the other hand, some states are starting to create programs to provide incentives for people to look for a job. This is better known as the back-to-work bonus. Some states are using the funds from the American Rescue Plan to incentivize people to take jobs. (Ruiz-Goiriena)
Ruiz-Goiriena, Romina. Will unemployment benefits be extended again? Everything you need to know about federal benefits ending. 08 09 2021. 13 09 2021 <https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/09/08/covid-19-unemployment-benefits-ending-states-extend-them/5761182001/>.