What kind of financial relief programs are available to the recently unemployed?
Unemployment Insurance, offered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is a benefit designed to help those who have lost their job due to no fault of their own. In most cases, “no fault of their own” means that you have separated from your last job due to a lack of available work. Unemployment Insurance is a joint state-federal program. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same guidelines established by law.
To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be actively seeking work and must meet work and wage requirements. Requirements for wages earned and time worked during an established period of time, typically 12 months, are referred to as a “base period.” States may have varying base periods, so make sure to check the details of your state’s program before filing. To file an unemployment claim, enter your state in CareerOneStop’s Unemployment Benefits Finder to find application information for your state’s unemployment program.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is another option for unemployed or underemployed households. TANF provides grant funds to states and territories to provide families with financial assistance and support services. Some state-administered programs may include child care assistance, job preparation, and work assistance. Review your state program for any specific state requirements. To learn more about TANF, see the Office of Family Assistance’s TANF program page.
What kind of health coverage plans are available due to termination of employment and loss of group health coverage?
If you were enrolled in your employer’s health plan and lost coverage due to a qualifying event, such as termination or reduced hours, you may be eligible to receive COBRA Continuation Coverage. COBRA requires continuation coverage to be offered to covered employees, their spouses, former spouses, and dependent children when group health coverage would otherwise be lost.
Do I need to apply for COBRA?
There is no application for COBRA Continuation Coverage. If you are a covered employee and have been involuntarily terminated, you do not need to act first to initiate your COBRA coverage. Your employer is subject to COBRA requirements and is required to notify its group health plan administrator within 30 days after an employee’s employment is terminated or employment hours are reduced. Within 14 days of that notification, the plan administrator is required to notify you of your COBRA rights, and you may choose your elections.
Eligibility for COBRA Continuation Coverage does not limit your eligibility for Marketplace coverage or a tax credit. You can apply for Marketplace coverage at HealthCare.gov. For more information on COBRA Continuation Coverage, visit the Department of Labor’s COBRA FAQs page.
To find more information on unemployment benefits, health care coverage, and family assistance, visit our Browse by Category page to explore resources for Employment and Career Development, Financial Assistance, and more. Use the Benefit Finder to explore over 1,000 government benefit and assistance programs and check out our other article: “Out of Work? Consider These Five Resources for Assistance.”