If COVID-19 Put You Out Of Work, Take These Steps

Gwen Garrison |

More than 1 in 4 workers have lost a job due to the effects of corona virus.  Although unemployment declined last week to 13.3%, rocky times are still ahead, and a lot of people need jobs.  Even if you were a part-time worker, you may be eligible for some benefits, so see below.

It’s important to understand your feelings about the layoff, furlough, or termination.  Embarrassment, guilt, shame, fear, and discouragement are all common.  Try to accept that this just happened, and you are not to blame.  You’re not “damaged goods.”  Then you can start to take charge of your life and do what you can.

Next, tell everyone about your job loss.  You’ll find understand, empathy, and support, even from strangers.  It’s likely that quite a few people you talk to have had similar experiences.  Use these conversations to let them know the kind of work you’d like to have, ask them to stay in touch, and do the same for them.  It’s good to work together to keep up with the quickly changing information about benefits and leads on jobs.

Now you can start to think more clearly.  You need to understand what is due to you, depending on the circumstances of your unemployment.  For example, you may qualify for the Federal COBRA program that gives workers an option to continue their health coverage.  You may have a 401K or retirement account that you need to make decisions about, or sick leave that you need to take action to draw upon.

If you still have paychecks coming, do your best to stop deductions for retirement, state and federal taxes, or flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to give you more cash right now.  Will you be rehired?  Do you know when?  Part time or Full time?  Ask your supervisor or Human Resources director all the questions you may have and write down what they tell you.  Stress messes with our ability to recall details clearly.

Once you understand the situation with your employer, and any benefits and money coming to you, you’re prepared to apply for unemployment benefits.  This can get complicated so follow along closely.

  • Identify the state where you live, the state where you work, and the state where your employer is located.  It’s not unusual for your residence, work location and employer to be different places.  Write this down.  Also have your paystubs, or copies of your paycheck or direct deposit amounts handy.  You’ll likely need your tax return from last year, your driver’s license and Social Security number.
  • Start with the state where you work.  A website call Jobcase has some excellent resources and links to each state’s unemployment sites.  If you are unsure which state to apply to, you can apply to multiple states and see what happens.  But you cannot collect benefits from more than one state:  that is illegal.
  • If possible, print out the application before you hit “SUBMIT”, so you have a record of your application and date.  With so many people unemployed, applications may take weeks to process.
  • The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is due to expire in July, so apply now.  Also, take careful note of any information that tells you the terms of unemployment benefits and PUA assistance.  When you are approved for benefits, those conditions should be made clear.  Keep all information and be sure that you comply

Once again:  being out of work right now is nothing to be ashamed of.  Tap into all the resources you can to help you get back on your feet and find the good things that await you as this crisis resolves.

As always, Gwen and Sibyl are here to help.  Go online to www.lifeplanfinancialadvisors.com to schedule a call or video appointment.  We provide a one-hour free consult and will be happy to talk with you.  We specialize in providing financial advice and care for everyday working people.