How to Maximize Unemployment Benefits

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Losing your job is always difficult. If you lost your job through a layoff or of no fault of your own, you may qualify for unemployment benefits, depending on how long you have worked the job. Unemployment compensation programs are administered on the state government level. Unemployment benefits provide a percentage of your earnings, per state guidelines. Some states have additional benefits, other than compensation, to help you train or find employment.

Sign up for unemployment compensation as soon as you lose your job. In most states, if you are receiving severance, you can receive unemployment compensation concurrently. In addition, filing early may be to your advantage if the state or federal government is offering extended benefits for those that file before a certain date.

Choose to receive your unemployment benefits without the taxes withheld. Though you will have to pay taxes on these benefits later, in the short-term, you may need to maximize the amount of compensation to keep current on your bills. You can also choose to pay estimated taxes quarterly so you don’t owe a large amount next April.

Participate in any programs your state offers to those who file for unemployment benefits. States may offer free services such as training programs, job centers, career counselors and opportunities and assistance for those who want to start their own business.

Exhaust your state and federal unemployment benefits as long as you are still out of work. The Federal government may have laws that provide funding for emergency unemployment compensation. Check with your state when you are about to exhaust your normal state benefits to see if you qualify for additional benefits.

Take advantage of any shared work programs that your state offers. Your state works with certain employers to provide partial compensation when your work hours are reduced. Maximize your unemployment benefits by applying for this program if available. Ask your employer if they participate and ask them to submit an application to the state unemployment administration if they do not. You can also contact your state to find out if you qualify for shared work compensation.

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About the Author

Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.