These days, a lot of people are getting laid off. And one thing you should take care of is filing for unemployment benefits. Eligibility requirements and compensation amounts vary from state to state, so you should go to the site for your state to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply. You can find information for any state here (found via this Department of Labor page).
One thing that originally confused me was that in many states, they call it Unemployment Insurance. I guess they call it that because companies pay into it and then when someone loses a job, they are able to collect money. Still, this isn’t quite “free” money; you have to pay income taxes on it, just like any other income. Luckily, another tax perk of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is that “the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits an individual receives in 2009 are tax free“. That’s a pretty nice deal!
From experience, I know that filing a claim can be a bit of a hassle, especially since, in most cases, you either have to go to an Unemployment office or call…and these days with so many people filing, you’re in for a wait. Luckily, once I filed, I was able to submit my weekly claims online. For the weekly claims, I had to assert that I had indeed been looking for work. I was supposed to keep track of my job search (which is a good idea anyway) in case they wanted proof, and I had to let them know that I was willing and able to work, and if I earned any wages that week (due to part time jobs). I think you’re still allowed to earn wages, it just lowers the amount of unemployment benefits you receive for that week. And once I got a job offer, I stopped filing claims.
So, go ahead and file! When I first got laid off, I felt weird about collecting unemployment, but realized that, really, that’s what the money’s there for! Your (former) employer has to pay into this fund, you might as well take advantage of it!
As usual, let me know if you have any other questions related to surviving unemployment, or if you have any insight on this topic. I’m here to help!