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
If you are unemployed and receive unemployment benefits, learn about education and training opportunities that may be free or at a low cost to you.
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.
Learn About COBRA
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.
For more COBRA information, see An Employee’s Guide to Health Benefits under COBRA.
Get More Information or File a Complaint
If you have questions or complaints about your COBRA coverage, contact your plan administrator or the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).
Note: In some cases, you can change from COBRA coverage to Marketplace health insurance coverage.
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:
- How is disability defined?
- When do benefits begin?
- How long do benefits last?
- What dollar amount is promised?
Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income Programs
Both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration and are the largest of several federal programs that offer assistance to people with disabilities.
Workers’ compensation laws protect employees who get hurt on the job or sick from it. The laws establish workers’ comp, a form of insurance that employers pay for. These laws vary from state to state and for federal employees. In general, workers’ comp provides:
- Coverage for workers’ medical expenses
- Compensation for lost wages while a worker is out recovering
- Benefits for dependents of workers who died from job-related hazards
Private Sector and State or Local Government Employees
If you get hurt working for a private company or state or local government, seek help through your state. Your state workers’ compensation program can help you file a claim. If your claim is denied, you can appeal.
Longshoremen, Harbor Workers, Coal Miners, and Federal Employees
Federal laws protect longshoremen, harbor workers, coal miners, and federal employees. Contact the workers’ compensation program that applies to you for help filing a claim.
If you feel that you have been wrongfully fired from a job or let go from an employment situation, you may wish to learn more about your state’s wrongful discharge laws.
- 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), 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 and extension of your healthcare benefits.
If you are an employer seeking information about legal termination of employees, you may wish to contact both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and your State Labor Office to ensure you do not violate any federal or state labor laws. You may wish to consult with a licensed attorney.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), also known as welfare, is designed to help families recover from temporary difficulties and move forward.
What help is available?
Recipients may qualify for help with food, housing, home energy, child care, job training, and more.
Each state TANF program is operated differently and has a different name.
Some tribal groups operate their own TANF programs.
Am I eligible?
- Each state or tribal territory decides the specific eligibility criteria for financial assistance or other benefits and services.
- You must be a resident of the state where you are applying.
How do I apply?
- To sign-up for temporary benefits, you can apply at your local or county social services agency. Call your state TANF office for your local contact information.
How do I report TANF benefit fraud?
If you suspect possible welfare fraud, contact your local TANF office or contact the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General’s Fraud Hotline.
What else do I need to know?
If you receive TANF, you may be eligible to receive other government benefits.