Finding a Job

COVID-19: Unemployment and Job Loss Support

February 9, 2021

Going through an unexpected transition in your career can feel alienating, confusing and stressful—especially during the global response to COVID-19. During this time, it is of the utmost importance that you’re able to care for the mental and physical health of yourself and your loved ones. While there are certain things you can’t control, there are some steps you can take to find support after a job loss.

Federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law provides states flexibility to pay benefits where:

  • An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work
  • An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over
  • An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member

Related: COVID-19 Job Resources by State

Here’s what to do if you’ve lost your job:

Finding job loss support

If you find yourself unemployed through no fault of your own and meet certain eligibility requirements (these vary by state and have recently been expanded in response to COVID-19), you may be able to obtain financial support from the government. Visit your state’s unemployment insurance program website to learn more about eligibility requirements and understand what support you may receive.

1. Apply for unemployment insurance (UI) as soon as possible

After becoming unemployed, contact your state's unemployment insurance program as soon as possible to start the application process. If you’re unable to apply online, ask a trusted friend or caretaker to assist you. Depending on your state, you will likely be required to provide some variation of the following information:

  • Previous employer's business name and address
  • First and last dates (month, day and year) you worked for your previous employer
  • Number of hours worked and pay rate if you worked this week (including Sunday)
  • Information related to your normal wage
  • Valid ID or Registration Number (if not a U.S. citizen or national)

2. Calculate your benefits

Each state has its own criteria for determining the potential amount of unemployment benefits, and many offer calculators online that can help you prepare your application for benefits.

3. Read your state’s COVID-19-related UI news

Most states update this information daily to include the latest news related to unemployment insurance and COVID-19. Read these updates to make sure you have the latest information on what benefits are available to you. Many states, for example, are waiving job search requirements and offering benefits much more quickly given the circumstances. Explore our COVID-19 job resources by state.

4. Check with your employer and industry groups

They may also have resources to offer or direct you to in light of COVID-19. For example, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation has created an information page for those in the food and service industry: Resources for Restaurants and Workers Coping with the COVID-19 Emergency.

This page includes information on closures, impact, unemployment and financial assistance. You should also revisit your employment contract to ensure you are getting any available financial support directly from your employer, such as a severance package.

5. Ask your employer about healthcare continuation

Now is a particularly important time to have healthcare coverage. Check with your employer to see if they offer healthcare continuation as part of your severance package. Many offer one to three months through COBRA.

6. Check with local banks and other financial institutions about their offerings

Many banks are offering relief options for their customers such as support with auto loans, credit card balances and loans secured by real estate and more. Many also have online resources specifically for those dealing with the impact of COVID-19, including:

7. Look for remote work

While you’re looking for a new job, you might find it helpful to supplement your income with remote part- or full-time work. You can start by searching for remote work on Indeed.

As you’re taking the above steps to support yourself and your loved ones through a job loss, remember that you’re not alone. It is also important to remember to take time for yourself. Take small and restful breaks between tasks, such as reading a chapter in your favorite book, doing a short exercise video or medication, or taking a walk around your block (if your local directives allow). New resources and measures are being announced daily, so stay connected to your community to keep up with the latest developments.

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