Unexpected loss of income can be one of the most stressful events in a lifetime. Here are some things to consider.
A job loss could potentially last for many months, so it is wise to track spending and tighten the family budget. Cooperative Extension offices in many states have information about living on a reduced income.
Apply for Unemployment Insurance
Each state has different eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance and benefits. Basically, if you’ve become unemployed through no fault of your own (such as being laid off) and you meet your state requirements for wages earned or time worked during a certain period, you likely will qualify for unemployment benefits. Talk to your state’s department of labor office.
Extend Health Insurance Coverage
Ask your former employer for information about extending health insurance under COBRA law provisions. Note that you will be responsible for paying the cost of the coverage, and there is a maximum continuation period of 18 months.
Seek Job Retraining
If you are a dislocated worker (perhaps your job was lost to foreign competition or a farm or small business failure), then some state and federal programs may be open to you, such as job placement or retraining. See your state’s Department of Labor.
Transfer Retirement Funds
Ask your former employer about transferring money saved in company retirement plans to another tax-deferred plan such as a rollover IRA. You may be tempted to withdraw money from a retirement plan, such as a 401(k), and spend it. Beware that early withdrawals may incur substantial tax penalties. Be sure to understand the limitations on your retirement funds.
Be Informed on Sources of Emergency Aid
If the unemployment is extended, be aware of community resources such as food banks and how to qualify for food stamps or other government aid.
The book, “Blindsided,” by Edie Milligan has many additional suggestions for dealing with unemployment. As a stressful phase of life, unemployment can cause worry and depression. Keep your mind busy, and make yourself feel useful by working on your house, car, yard, hobbies, etc. If you notice signs of depression, seek help.
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