If you lose your job, unemployment benefits can help you financially until you’re able to find a new role. Since most states only pay up to 26 weeks of unemployment, you may wonder what to do when those benefits run out. Even if you’re eligible for extended unemployment benefits, evaluating your options can help you feel financially prepared if your benefits expire.
In this article, we describe unemployment benefits and explore nine tips for what to do when unemployment runs out to help you stay prepared.
Unemployment benefits are financial assistance payments you can receive from your state to support you as you look for a new role.
If your unemployment benefits run out, there are some federal, local, and state organizations and programs that can help you financially.
You can also adjust your budget or broaden your job search to help you temporarily as you complete the job search process.
What are unemployment benefits?
Unemployment benefits are payments you may receive from your state if you lose your job. While the payment amounts and requirements can vary by state, the purpose of these benefits is to help you financially as you search for a new position. If you lose your job, research your state’s unemployment requirements to learn how to apply for financial assistance.
What to do when unemployment runs out
Here are nine suggestions for what you can do if your unemployment runs out:
1. Check on eligibility for extended benefits
The first thing you can try if your benefits run out soon is to check with your state’s unemployment office to see if there are additional benefits for which you may be eligible. In some cases, states can extend their unemployment assistance by 13 weeks for employees whose benefits ran out. You may be eligible for up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits.
In the majority of cases, it may not be a requirement to reapply, as the benefits payout automatically. It’s generally a good idea to contact your state’s unemployment office to find out how the process works and confirm your eligibility. This can also help you plan for your financial future by determining how long you may receive your benefits.
2. Create a new budget
Before your unemployment benefits run out, evaluate your budget and eliminate all non-essential spending. Look for ways to save money on grocery bills, cut back on entertainment spending, and cancel services you don’t need, like your gym membership or subscription services. You can also avoid touching your savings or emergency fund for as long as possible in case you need that money when your unemployment benefits run out. Since you may not be able to predict how long it can take to find a new role, consider budgeting as conservatively as possible.
3. Contact creditors
If you make any monthly payments that you think you may not be able to pay, contact the creditors to see if you can put payments on hold. If you make student loan payments, you can put them on deferral as soon as you lose your job. If you own a home, you may want to contact your lender to see if you can defer mortgage payments for one or two months. You can also look into any special extension or discount programs to help with bills.
If you make credit card payments, contact your credit card company to ask if they can work with you temporarily to defer or reduce your monthly payments. While it’s generally helpful to pay your credit card off each month or make the largest possible payments, this isn’t necessarily the best approach when you’re unemployed. Making smaller payments during times of crisis can leave more money in your bank account to cover the cost of groceries and other bills.
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4. Search for a job
It’s beneficial to begin your job search right after losing your job. If you’ve been searching in your area for some time, you may want to consider expanding your search to other geographic areas or even into other fields where you may have transferrable skills. If you’re a recent college graduate, contact your school’s career services office. You may also be able to access career counseling services as an alumnus.
If you’re reaching the interview stage in the hiring process but aren’t getting any job offers, you may want to consider working on your interviewing technique. You can often find interviewing assistance through local unemployment offices. You can also work with a friend or family member to practice for interviews.
5. Consider nontraditional jobs
If you haven’t yet found a traditional job, you may want to consider non-traditional work to earn income until you find the right position. Look for part-time or temporary positions or consider ways you could earn money as a freelancer in your field. Also, think of odd jobs that you could do to supplement your income. You could potentially earn income working for a ride-sharing company, picking out or delivering groceries, or delivering food from local restaurants.
6. Network regularly
The larger your personal network, the easier it may be for you to pursue available jobs, even if the company hasn’t posted them online. Expand your network on professional social media sites and look for opportunities to attend networking events, even if they’re only being held virtually. Make sure to update your social media profiles with all of your current skills and accomplishments and be open about the fact that you’re looking for opportunities.
7. Check with nonprofit organizations
There are many resources available at the local, state, or federal level to help people who lose their jobs. For example, there are local agencies you can contact to help you with training, employment, and affordable housing. Every state also has temporary assistance available for families with children. Those programs can help families by providing financial assistance and job training and searching.
If you’re a member of a local church or other community organization, ask if there are any programs available to offer help. Many community organizations can provide resources like babysitting assistance, donations, or food baskets. They may also be able to check with other members to see if anyone knows of jobs that are available on a part or full-time basis.
8. Seek a loan
You may be eligible for a loan, even as an unemployed worker. Research to learn more about the different types of loans that are eligible for people who are unemployed and to find out if you qualify. Even a small loan could help for a short period of time after your unemployment runs out and before you find a job. Before selecting a loan, though, make sure to examine the terms of each loan option, including interest. This can help you find the loan program that works best for you.
9. Talk to friends and family
If your unemployment runs out and there are friends and family who you can go to for support, consider asking for their assistance. You could suggest a temporary loan that you can pay back as soon as you find a job. This can help minimize financial worries while you search for your new role.
I hope you find this article helpful.