States began rolling out new systems for those who were applying for unemployment benefits as early as April last year. 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 it wasn’t as obvious that others could qualify, like those who were going 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
Not All States Are the Same!
Before going any deeper into this subject, one should know that each state has a different way of determining its unemployment benefits. Different states have various methods of setting the employment tax rate to finance unemployment insurance. This also has effects on wages, the duration of benefits and eligibility requirements for unemployment relief. Therefore, you’ll find the benefits vary from state to state due to the fact that there are differences in costs of living and other factors.
Some states do have features that can help you determine the amount of unemployment benefits you may be eligible to receive. This includes Massachusetts which has a calculator to make things easier. Kansas also has a great tool to make sure the math makes sense to you!
In case you’re wondering which states pay benefits for the longest amount of time, those states are Texas, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Kansas. These states offer more than six months worth of unemployment benefits. Though Massachusetts is a little more generous, it has a higher cost of living. So it’s important to keep that discrepancy in mind!
There are states that also determine the extent of the benefit periods based on their rates of unemployment, such as Utah. When unemployment is low, job state residents can get 10 weeks of benefits. Whereas, when unemployment is high, they can get up to 26 weeks.
Some Secret Maneuvers
It’s not unusual for government entities to leave out important information. This 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 forms have a box to check if your situation is an emergency. When you see that box, check it! You’ll have to give information about your situation and it’s possible your situation won’t qualify as an emergency, but better to try and not qualify than miss out on added benefits because you didn’t check a box. If you do qualify, that expedites your request taking the time frame from, potentially, more than 30 days to around 10 days, or less.
Eating separately 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. However, if you provide a letter from your roommate indicating that they eat separately 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?
The Final Word
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 their responsibility.
It’s also important to note that unemployment benefits only help compensate for a small portion of your earnings. So, it’s not a good idea to depend solely on unemployment benefits to make ends meet. Remember that the situation that you are currently in is only temporary. Planning ahead is the key to your success!