Federal Unemployment Assistance – Frequently Asked Questions
September 19, 2008
Being “laid off” is one of the most dreaded phrases in the English language. No one wants to hear it, but as we all know, life happens.
Losing Your Job
Thankfully, we live in a country with a relatively low unemployment rate, about 5 percent, but the low rate is little consolation to the people who are part of that 5%. There are plenty of people who get laid off from their job every day, and their lives are devastated, because they lost their job unexpectedly. These people may have had good careers and been good workers but because of unforeseen circumstances regarding any number of factors, their employer may have decided to cut a portion of its workforce.
So, if you suddenly find yourself without a job, or you’re worried that you might be laid off in the future due to the current economic conditions, here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about federal unemployment assistance.
Who pays for it and who runs it?
The FUA program is run by your state government, but funded by the federal government.
How do I find my state unemployment office?
There’s a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor called Career One Stop that offers “career resources and workforce information to job seekers, students, businesses, and workforce professionals.” They have a section on the site called America’s Service Locator which can help you find One-Stop Career Centers and provides contact information for “a range of local work-related services, including unemployment benefits, career development, and educational opportunities.”
Who is eligible for FUA?
Anyone who lost their job that had nothing to do with their job performance or actions as an employee. You must be “laid off”, not fired. Being fired means you weren’t doing your job or you did something against company policy that warranted your termination. Basically, YOUR actions caused the termination. If you were fired, you aren’t eligible for FUA. If you were terminated based on circumstances that had nothing to do with you, then you’re eligible.
How much will I receive?
This varies state by state. Your past gross monthly income will be taken into consideration, and you’ll receive a portion of that amount. You’ll also be awarded a certain amount of credits that determine how many weeks you’ll receive the unemployment benefit.
How Am I Paid?
You will be paid on a weekly basis, unless otherwise specified by your state’s laws.
How long does it take to receive my first check?
It generally takes two to three weeks.
Do I need to look for work during the time that I receive benefits?
Yes! The whole point of the program is to give you financial aid while you’re looking for other work. Most states will require you to register with the state’s job bank for potential employers to contact you for work.
The Bottom Line
Filing for unemployment benefits is a logistical nightmare. You’ll fill out tons of paperwork, and it’s the government, so they aren’t prompt, and they don’t care about customer service. However, if you’re the sole provider for your family and end up without a job this program can offer a much needed supply of cash.
Don’t quit your job thinking you can expect to receive unemployment assistance, it doesn’t work that way. The amount you’ll be paid definitely won’t replace your salary so you’ll still want an emergency fund to make up the difference, plus the emergency fund will come in handy while you’re waiting for the first check to arrive. If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, start one today. You can open an account for only a dollar with online banks like FNBO Direct. If you start putting away a little each month you’ll be glad you did when crisis strikes, click here to start your emergency fund today.
It’s a good idea to keep your resume up to date and form a work portfolio so you’re ready in the event you lose your job. Not only will you want to start the job search right away, federal unemployment guidelines require that you do so.
Keep in mind, sometimes people lose their job due to injury or disability. You can help prepare for an unfortunate event like that by buying disability insurance. Another big issue for people that get fired is finding health insurance coverage, make sure you consider what you’ll do about health insurance between jobs.
These answers to frequently asked questions about federal unemployment assistance are part of the Career Finances Guide.
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