There is a variety of benefit and assistance programs to help you if you lose your job. CareerOneStop.org is a good place to start to get help with unemployment insurance benefits, job training, and finding a job.
Am I eligible?
Unemployment insurance programs pay money to workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. You must meet certain eligibility requirements as determined by your state.
How do I apply?
Each state operates its own unemployment insurance program. Select your state from this map to find out how to apply. Many states require you to file for unemployment benefits online, and some provide toll-free numbers or other ways to get help filing.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Extended Unemployment Insurance - Some states provide 13 weeks of extended unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment. Not everyone who qualified for regular benefits qualifies for extended benefits. When a state begins an extended benefit period, it notifies those who have received all of their regular benefits that they may be eligible for extended benefits.
Unemployment insurance benefits are taxable - You must report any unemployment benefits you receive as part of your gross income on your taxes. Find more information about taxes on unemployment compensation and forms that you may need.
Other Types of Benefits and Programs for the Unemployed
Self-employment assistance offers unemployed workers the opportunity to create their own jobs by starting their own small businesses. This is a voluntary program offered by Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families the right to choose to continue group health coverage provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time.
There are three basic requirements that must be met for you to be entitled to elect COBRA continuation coverage:
Your group health plan must be covered by COBRA
A qualifying event must occur (for example, voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, or divorce)
You must be a qualified beneficiary for that event
If you are entitled to elect COBRA continuation coverage, you must be given an election period of at least 60 days to choose whether or not to elect continuation coverage.
How to Get COBRA
Under COBRA, group health plans must provide covered employees and their families with a notice explaining their COBRA rights. Plans must also have rules for how COBRA continuation coverage is offered, how qualified beneficiaries may elect continuation coverage, and when it can be terminated.
Disability insurance protects individuals and their families from financial hardship when illness or injury prevents them from earning a living. Many employers offer some form of disability coverage to employees, or you can buy an individual disability insurance policy.
Types of Disability Policies
There are two types of disability policies:
Short-term disability policies have a maximum benefit of two years.
Long-term disability policies have benefits that can last the rest of your life.
Employers may offer short-term disability coverage, long-term disability coverage, or integrate both of these as part of a competitive employee benefits package. When purchasing individual disability insurance coverage, you should ask:
ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job receive fixed payments.
provide benefits for dependents of workers who died due to work-related accidents or illnesses.
protect employers and fellow workers by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover from an employer and by removing the co-workers' liability in most accidents.
Private Sector and State/Local Government Employees
Individuals injured on the job while employed by private companies or state and local government agencies should contact their state workers' compensation program for eligibility, assistance, and filing procedures for workers' compensation benefits.
Federal Employees, Longshoremen, Harbor Workers, and Coal Miners
The appeals process for workers' compensation varies from state to state. If you received a denial of benefits and you wish to file an appeal, contact your state workers' compensation office for information on how to file.
Wrongful termination or wrongful discharge laws vary from state to state. Some states are "employment-at-will" states, which means that if there is no employment contract (or collective bargaining agreement) which provides otherwise, an employer can let an employee go for any reason, or no reason, with or without notice, as long as the discharge does not violate a law.
If you feel you have been wrongfully discharged or terminated from employment, you may:
Contact your State Labor Office for more information on wrongful termination laws in your state.
Seek legal counsel if your employer terminated you for any reason not covered under state or federal law.
You may also be eligible for unemployment compensation.