How to get unemployment benefits
Step 1: File for unemployment as soon as possible.
Step 2: Start a new job search now!
Step 3: Go back to school or earn an online degree.
Ugh. You've just been laid off. You've packed up your work stuff, called your mom to tell her the bad news and now all you want to do is hide in bed and cry for the next month. Your head is spinning - you don't know where to go or what to do.
That's why we're here to help. Applying for unemployment benefits (and then finding a new job) should be your top priority. We've put together a list of how to get started.
What should I do if I think I'm going to lose my job?
Can you smell layoffs on the wind? You'll feel better if you get ready now. Update your resume and your Snagajob profile. Identify your transferable skills - that means the skills you have that could come in handy in your next job, even if it's in a different industry.
How do I know if I am eligible for unemployment benefits?
You'll need to check with your local unemployment office to be sure you are eligible, but in most cases those who have been laid off and are unemployed by no fault of their own can receive unemployment benefits.
However, unless there are special circumstances, you can't collect unemployment if you:
- Were fired because of something you did
- Quit (without good cause - talk to your unemployment office for details)
- Went on a long vacation/got married/went back to school
How much do I get?
It all depends. Some states will give you as much as $400 a week in unemployment benefits. In other states, you may only receive a maximum of $200. You will typically receive half of what you were making at the job you had when you were laid off.
You may also be eligible for COBRA (health insurance) benefits - but you will have to pay for them. Check with your former employer or state unemployment office for details.
What will I need to file for unemployment benefits?
Again, this may depend on which state you file in, but you will likely need the following:
- Social Security number
- Mailing address and phone number
- Your two most recent employers (with names, addresses, etc.)
- An Alien Registration Card if you're not a U.S. citizen.
Where do I file for benefits?
Some states will allow you to file your unemployment claims online; others may require that you go to the state unemployment office to apply. Click on your state to go to your state's unemployment insurance website.