What You Should Know about Unemployment
Unemployment compensation is a joint federal and state program. If you have been fired or laid off through no fault of your own, you will often qualify for unemployment. While you will not receive as much as you were making before you lost your job, you may be able to alleviate some of the financial stress of being fired or laid off. Filing for unemployment should be your first step if you lose your job.
You will file for unemployment through your state. In many states you can file in person, online, over the phone or by mail. You will need to have some specific information at hand when you file. While some of this, including your social security number, mailing address and driver's license number is quite typical, you will also need your employer's federal ID number from a pay stub or W-2 form, employment information for the previous two years. You will also need the amount you earned, date you started working there and date you were terminated. If you will be receiving a severance package, vacation pay or other funds from your job, these will need to be reported.
Federal taxes may be withheld from your checks if you choose, or you can opt not to have anything withheld. Review your own finances to determine the likelihood of tax debt and which choice is best for you.
Once you have applied for unemployment, it will be a few weeks while your paperwork is processed and it is confirmed that you meet the requirements. Once you are receiving unemployment, you will need to regularly confirm your eligibility. This, too, can typically be done online. Be sure that you save information about the jobs you have applied for, resumes you have sent out and other job seeking activities. Many states require proof that you are actively job hunting while you receive unemployment benefits. Take advantage of job search resources offered via your state's employment offices as well.
Due to the current economic situation, many states offer extended benefits. Contact your state unemployment office for assistance in applying for an extension if needed and be sure to apply before your benefits run out.