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Personal Finance & Unemployment


These are difficult financial times. You are not alone if you have been furloughed or laid off: so many of us have been hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Here are some resources you can use if you are struggling to figure out your next steps after having your hours reduced, being furloughed or laid off, and you need help.


What is a furlough? A furlough is a temporary work hiatus, due to economic conditions specific to your employer or the economy as a whole. Many employers are furloughing workers due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its economic fall-out, hoping that things will turn around. During the time that you are not working you also will not be paid your salary, but the hope is that your employer will be able to bring you back to your job in the future, once the furlough ends. Usually, your employer will continue to pay benefits, like health insurance, during the furlough period, so furloughing you is a sign of goodwill from your employer because they are paying for coverage to try to make sure you do not lose health care during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

How you react to your furlough is your decision. Most people will use the furlough period to try to pick up hours elsewhere or find a different job. If your employer is able to give you a concrete end date for the furlough, you can feel more confident that you will be brought back to work at that time, though of course, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, plans can change quickly and without notice. If the furlough lasts more than a week, or if your employer indicates the furlough will turn into a layoff, you should explore whether you can collect unemployment benefits.

What if you have been laid off? If you have been laid off or your position has been terminated, there are resources available to you while you look for your next job. You should explore applying for unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are a type of state-provided insurance, available to pay you a certain amount of money when you lose your job, provided you meet the program’s eligibility requirements. You will not receive unemployment benefits if you quit your job, are self-employed, or if you are fired for cause. If you have been laid off due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you will be eligible for unemployment, and you should apply. So far, since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic broke, well more than 26 million people have applied for unemployment, from every walk of life and every sort of job. You are not alone, and you should take advantage of the money that is available for you and your family while you are unemployed and looking for work.  

Apply for COBRA or its state equivalent. If you received health care through your employer and you were laid off or furloughed without health care, you might be eligible to receive continued health care through COBRA or its state equivalent programs. You pay for the continued coverage yourself, but it will cover you and your family members who rely on you for health care. It is more affordable to buy health care through COBRA than on the open market as an individual or family. It is especially important right now, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, when everyone’s health is at risk, to make certain you have health care. It will protect your peace of mind and your health. 

Protect your personal finances. Remember that it is more than fair to ask for help if COVID-19 or the coronavirus pandemic has harmed you or a family member, by injuring your health or finances due to reduced hours, a furlough, unemployment. If your finances have been affected by COVID-19 or the coronavirus pandemic, and you have credit card debt or loans, including personal loans, student loans or auto loans, your lender may offer payment or debt relief, such as waived fees or deferred payments. If you are having trouble covering rent or your mortgage, approach your landlord about accepting a partial or deferred payment. It is important to state that you are facing employment and financial trouble due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic when you ask for help, because many relief programs are designed to help people in that situation. Please feel free to review our other Resources pages that are part of this Resources Directory to learn more about personal finances and debt relief.

The main thing for you to know is that you have rights and you have options. 

You have rights as an employee who has been furloughed or laid off. Employers cannot make any employment decision, including decisions about who to furlough or lay off, for any unfair or discriminatory reason. You also have options: there are lots of programs available to you to help you through periods of temporary financial hardship. Unemployment and health care benefits are often available. Additionally, you can usually defer student loan and other types of loan payments during periods of temporary unemployment due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sometimes you need more help than these programs afford; sometimes you need to consult with an attorney about your rights. If you find yourself in that situation, Court Buddy can help. We have experienced lawyers nationwide who can help you with your employment or unemployment situation; they can talk with you to better understand what happened, help you understand your rights, provide you with advice and counsel, make a plan and negotiate for you and your family. There are many ways for you to deal with the temporary setback of a furlough or unemployment, secure a brighter financial future and peace of mind for you and your family.


What do I do If I have been furloughed or laid off?
First, know you are not alone; we are facing record levels of unemployment in our country right now. People understand. File your unemployment claim. Reach out to any lenders, your landlord, etc., and ask for a deferment if you need to, reassuring them that you will resume payments when you can.
How do I file for unemployment?
You can file for unemployment by logging into your state’s unemployment office online.  And you should apply: most people get the benefit of unemployment payments automatically, as a condition of your prior employment. It usually takes 2-3 weeks to get your first check after you file a claim.
How do I get health insurance?
If you are furloughed, your employer will cover your benefits and there should be no disruption to your coverage. If you have been laid off, you will get a letter in the mail explaining whether you are eligible for COBRA or its state equivalent. Follow the instructions in the letter to apply to keep your health insurance. You will have to pay for the premiums, but you can keep coverage for yourself and your family.
Here are resources where you can apply for unemployment benefits, COBRA or state programs similar to COBRA:
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
U.S. Virgin Islands
Washington D.C.
West Virginia
If you were an employee, you have rights. Here are consumer protection agencies and resources that you should know about:

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