What to Do if You're Recently Unemployed
NEW YORK, November 25, 2020 (Newswire.com) - The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating in countless ways. More than 250,000 Americans have lost their lives because of COVID-19, and the U.S. has recorded 12.5 million cases. Americans have filed for unemployment at historic rates since the virus reached the U.S. in March.
If you’ve recently lost your job, here are some tips to help you through a potentially difficult time financially.
See if you qualify for unemployment insurance
Unemployment insurance, more commonly simply called unemployment, is a program that provides money to workers who have lost their job as a way to help them stay afloat while they search for a new employment opportunity.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act — which Congress passed in March — expanded who could qualify for unemployment benefits. Ways to qualify for unemployment include:
- Inability to work because of coronavirus
- Substantially reduced hours because of coronavirus
- Childcare reasons, i.e., you’re unable to work because you’re a primary caregiver and your child’s school or daycare facility is closed
- Forced to quit your job because of coronavirus
- Job you had lined up fell through because of coronavirus
Apply for unemployment benefits
Each state has different requirements for filing for unemployment, and you need to file your claim with the state where you last worked. The fastest way to do this is to file a claim online, depending on your state’s requirements, but you can also file in person or by phone.
Unemployment offices have been inundated with requests, and it can take several weeks to process your application, so you’ll want to file your claim as soon as possible.
Evaluate your debt
While you’re unemployed, it’s important to try to keep your financial health intact to the best of your ability. One way to do that is to reassess your debt and determine the best way to pay off your debt given your current situation.
If you’re still paying off student loans, you might want to consider requesting a forbearance from your lender or deferring payments if you have private loans. Forbearance is a period of time when your monthly loan payments are reduced or suspended temporarily, while deferment is a temporary postponement of payment when interest generally doesn’t accrue. Borrowers who have federal student loans were automatically placed into an administrative forbearance through the end of 2020 to provide relief during the pandemic.
If you’re saddled with credit card debt, it’s important to continue making at least the minimum payment on all your balances to keep your credit score intact. Many credit card issuers are offering COVID relief programs, so it may be worthwhile to contact your creditor to see if you can get a lower interest rate, defer your monthly payment, or negotiate lower fees or penalties.
Categories: Personal and Family Finances