In the 6 weeks following April 30, 2020, 30 million Americans filed an unemployment claim. In other words, 18% of the American workforce is in need of cash assistance. Resulting from this, many who would not be eligible for unemployment benefits now qualify – such as recent hires who weren’t able to begin, nontraditional workers, workers who quit due to COVID-19, and more. Still, many Americans are in the dark on how to apply.
Unemployment benefits vary by state, but the application processes are generally the same. To apply, go online, and find your state’s unemployment application system. If you live and work in different states, then you’ll need to apply in the state where you work. In fact, several states have waived their 1-2 week waiting period on COVID-19 related applications. Be prepared for excessively long wait times as unemployment numbers continue to skyrocket.
If approved, unemployment generally pays about half of your previous income on a weekly basis. Again, varied by state, benefits typically last 12-30 weeks. However, the Cares Act recently added an additional $600 per week until July 31st, and 13 additional weeks of payments after state benefits run out. However, those additional federal benefits are set to expire if Congress doesn’t act soon.
Furthermore, it’s crucial you assess your living and financial situations while receiving unemployment. This way, when the benefits stop because benefits are not guaranteed to last a full 30 weeks, you have a survival plan. This wouldn’t be a bad time to turn to technology. Apps like Truebill or TRIM can identify and eliminate any unwanted subscriptions you have. Try to figure out how to save some of your unemployment payments now so that when your benefits run out you will have a cushion.
You may also find it helpful to list your current income sources, savings, and liquid assets. This way, you can create a new budget that prioritizes your most critical expenses and reduce non-essential spending – like subscriptions. Take any and all assistance available to you now, because it may not be there later.
In the event of a second stimulus check, or if you haven’t used your first allotment in its entirety – spend funds wisely to make your savings stretch. Cover any basic necessities and bills first, such as rent, utilities, and food, and bolster your emergency fund. If there’s still money left, pay down any high interest debt attached to your name. This can help you in the long-run should you run into another financial hardship.
In times like these, it’s most important you know your options. Many companies, including telecoms, credit card issuers, automotive lenders, and utility providers have offered local relief measures. For example, halting mortgage payments and debt collections, suspending foreclosures and evictions, and preventing utilities and telecoms from stopping service.
Surviving a furlough or layoff amidst a global health pandemic may be the last thing you ever thought you’d have to deal with, but by coming up with a financial plan, you can push through. Find more financial tips below and try to make it to the finish line.
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