If you have lost your job during the pandemic, unemployment insurance (UI) is a critical benefit that can help support you while you look for employment. UI is intended to be a temporary measure meant to help recipients with bills and living expenses during a difficult period.
Those who have previously applied for unemployment understand that navigating the system can be challenging. Not only that but with no end in sight to the pandemic, many people have exhausted their benefits before finding a job.
If you are in this situation, Credit.com explains what you should do.
Apply for Extended Unemployment Benefits
Depending on your state, how long you were employed, and other factors, you may qualify for extended unemployment benefits. If you are eligible, you will receive the steps to apply, along with a notification about the end of your benefits.
When you apply for extended unemployment, you will need to provide all of the necessary information, even if it’s already on file. When you apply, you will need your:
- Social Security number
- Personal identification number (PIN)
- Driver’s license number
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- Previous employers’ names and contact information
- Most recent employer’s Employer Registration Number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
- SF8 and SF50 if you were a federal employee
- Latest DD214 separation form if you were in the military
- Alien Registration card number if you are not a US citizen
Apply For Emergency Unemployment Compensation
During recessions and other events that trigger periods of high unemployment like the ongoing pandemic, states — and sometimes the federal government — offer extended unemployment insurance.
When Congress passed the CARES Act in March to support the economy as it nosedived in the spring, lawmakers created the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. This measure allows states to provide up to 13 additional weeks of UI benefits after recipients have depleted their regular state benefits.
Apply For Assistance Programs
The federal government offers several assistance programs to support individuals and families facing financial hardships. Both those who receive unemployment and those who don’t should check to see if they qualify for additional aid. These programs include:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Welfare or Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Subsidized housing and rent vouchers
These programs can help recipients afford the cost of necessary expenses. Make sure you check to see if you are eligible for any of these benefits. They can assist you with medical expenses, food, and provide extra income assistance during difficult times.
Apply For Self-Employment Assistance Benefits
When Congress created the PEUC, they also loosened restrictions for who could apply for unemployment benefits. The provisions allowed the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers to qualify for state benefits if the pandemic disrupted their income. If you already haven’t, consider applying for this program.
The Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP) is another option for self-employed workers. This program offers financial resources and tools, including loans and grants for small businesses. If you are eligible for this benefit, it could help you stay afloat financially until the end of the pandemic.
Look For Nontraditional Jobs
Right now, many employers in traditional fields are cutting their workforce more than they are rehiring. If you’re struggling to find employment, consider using your skills to earn a living. You can temporarily freelance to support yourself in the meantime. There are several sites where you can make a profile and find gig work, like Upwork and Fiverr.
There are many apps and platforms that offer a chance to make a buck. You can walk dogs or petsit on Rover, sell your photos on a stock website like Adobe, or teach English as a second language. Or, you could become a Lyft or Uber driver.
If you aren’t sure your current skillet can make you a living, Coursera offers online lessons to teach you new skills. Also, you can check out ZipRecruiter to look for job openings in your area.
Look For Other Resources
Besides federal and state agencies, there are many local nonprofit organizations where you can find help. One of the biggest is United Way 2-1-1. Your city’s branch can help you find resources for housing, healthcare, food, and other types of assistance in your town.
- “How to Reopen Unemployment Claims.” FileUnemployment, 22 Oct. 2020, fileunemployment.org/file-unemployment/reopening-ui-claim-after-short-period-of-employment/.
- Mahoney, Kaitlyn. “What to Do When Unemployment Benefits Run Out.” Credit.com, 28 Oct. 2020, www.credit.com/blog/what-to-do-when-unemployment-benefits-run-out/.