If you think you may find yourself unemployed because of COVID 19 or found yourself unemployed, this article has a list of unemployment resources you may find helpful. It provides tips to reduce your monthly costs to get you by, then moves into ways to prepare to gain employment again.
1. Ask your employer this
Once you know unemployment is coming, you’ll want to find out your last day of health insurance benefits (if you have them through your company). These benefits may run out at the end of the month you are released. If you have a spouse who has benefits, you can add yourself to their plan within 30 days of being unemployed as losing employment counts as a life event. Healthcare.gov has a page educating people on Qualifying Life Events. Though you can also look for a health plan on the Marketplace via Healthcare.gov, you may not qualify for lower-cost plans if you are eligible for coverage under a family member’s job-based plan. According to Healthcare.gov, it all depends on whether the job-based insurance that’s offered to you is considered affordable and meets certain minimum value standards. You may run into the acronym UI in these resources, this stands for Unemployment Insurance.
You also have the option to keep your insurance but will have to pay that premium in full through COBRA. COBRA allows you the option to continue your health plan but you often must pay the entire premium to keep it. The premium is the amount you’ve been paying for your health insurance plus the amount your employer was sharing in the cost for you to have the plan.
2. Find your State’s Resources
CareerOneStop.org is a website owned by the U.S. Department of Labor. You can go to the site and pick your state and find out what unemployment benefits are available to you. This resource will help you find how to apply online as well. Applying online will be speedier then calling as phone lines to each state’s unemployment office are likely to have long wait times, if you can even get through.
3. Collect the Information You’ll Need to Submit
To file your initial unemployment application, you’ll need to have (or know) your:
- Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number (if applicable)
- Driver’s License or State Issued ID (though these items may not be necessary)
- Mailing address, city, state and ZIP code and county where you reside
- Contact information of your employers for the last 18 months (and DD 214 if you were released from the military within that 18 months)
- Last day you worked immediately prior to filing your unemployment claim
- Amount of any severance, vacation, holiday or payment for unused sick pay and date it will be paid to you
- Amount of any pension other than Social Security, the start date, and monthly benefit amount
4. Skip Debt Payments
Many banks and financial institutions are offering immediate relief by allowing their clients to skip a few payments if impacted by COVID-19. In fact, many households in the U.S. pay about $800 a month in car payments. Skipping those payments can reduce your stress immediately if you can skip those.
5. Reduce or Postpone your Student Loan Payment
All Department of Education owned loans have a 0% interest rate as of March 13, 2020. This includes all Direct and Federal Family Education Loans (FFELP) in any status (in repayment, in school, grace, deferment, forbearance, etc.). If you’ve been impacted by the coronavirus and are having difficulty making payments, you can reduce or postpone your payments and log in online to check out your options. Unfortunately, if you have a private student loan or refinancing your Department of Education loan with another company, you will need to contact that company directly as this only applies to the Department of Education owned loans.
6. Reduce Car Insurance
The auto insurance institute lists out nine ways to lower your auto insurance costs. Though the first tip is to shop around, you may want to call your car insurance first to check how low they can get your insurance cost for you before shopping around. Your current insurance provider may just be the best after all.
7. Review what Employers are looking for
Though a job that fits your needs may be hard to find or unavailable during the COVID-19 outbreak, you can still find job listings to see if there are gaps in your skillset. Use this time to analyze your education, skills, and experience against what employers are looking for. Then, write down the list of skills that make you marketable and the list of skills that would make you more marketable if you acquired them.
8. Update your Skillset
There are paid resources to help you update your skill set, such as LinkedIn Learning. However, there is also a free resource through EdX.org. EdX.org offers free courses from top universities around the world! You can leverage this free resource to gain in-depth knowledge on a needed topic to help you land your next career.
9. Update your Resume
This is also a good time to update your resume and update your LinkedIn profile if you have one. This is especially important if you been with your current employer a while. Use this time to add your most current employer and the job duties to your resume. Make sure your resume includes any new credentials, coursework, certifications, or skills that are not reflected on your most current resume. Visit our Resume and Cover Letters page to learn more download free Resume and Cover Letter templates.
10. Reflect on your Career Path
This can also be an ideal time to consider whether you would like to pursue a different career altogether. Taking the Free Career Tests on this site can help you explore career options that are matched to your interests. You may decide that your current career is right for you or surprise yourself and research a new one!