(FinancialHealth.net) – In April of 2020, states began rolling out new systems for those who were applying for unemployment benefits. But they didn’t make it quite clear exactly who could apply. Many, like Indiana, seemed to focus on giving notice to the self-employed and gig economy, but didn’t make it obvious to others who qualified, like those who were supposed to start jobs but couldn’t because of state shutdowns.
If you are self employed, an independent contractor, or a gig economy worker, you may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) through the Department of Workforce Development.https://t.co/9fviU9z61h pic.twitter.com/kzAVSekHEO
— WorkOne NWI (@WorkOne_NWI) April 9, 2020
It’s not unusual for government entities to leave out important information that inevitably leads to people getting lost in the system and missing out on helpful benefits. Now is as good a time as any to share a few secret maneuvers to help out.
- Always check the emergency assistance box. When you apply for state aid, some of the forms have a box to check if your situation is an emergency. Once you check it, you also give them information on why it’s an emergency. Always check that box in case you meet the criteria and don’t know it. If you qualify, that expedites the process from potentially taking 30 days to potentially taking 10 days or less.
- Eat separate from others in the household. Let’s say you have a roommate who takes care of their own individual needs. You do have to let them know about everyone in the house, but if you provide a letter from your roommate indicating that they eat separate from you, the income won’t affect your eligibility for food assistance.
- Think long term. Is this the first time you’ve needed help? Is there any sort of chance you might need help again? Plan ahead by using food assistance to buy plants, trees and bushes that are or produce food. Even setting aside a bit of your assistance to do this each month can pay off in the long run. And if you don’t own a home of your own, consider planting things like trees on someone’s property who is close to you and gives their permission.
- Assume qualification. Apply for whatever is available. You’re going to qualify for some things and not others, but again, the standards aren’t always clear. As long as you tell the truth, the worst thing that can happen is you get denied.
- Use your time wisely. The people who work at places offering assistance are often overworked, underpaid, and understaffed. They probably aren’t going to take the time to explain every single option you have. Are you unemployed? Underemployed? Underpaid? Do you want to be here again?
Things might feel horrible right now, but this is the perfect chance to start exploring your future career and options to help you get there. Dig deep into the websites of sources offering assistance. Many places offer free classes or training to help you develop a career you enjoy. Review or create your resume, and even look into college or technical classes and grants to pay for them.
Remember, processing your application and information is the job of those working with assistance programs, but giving you step by step information on how to best use them is not. Use any down time you have now to find more resources, as well as creative ways to use them.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!
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