2009-05-14

The Quick Guide to Unemployment

Having helped a couple of neighbors now with the unemployment process, I thought I would put together a quick reference for those getting ready to start filing for unemployment. All three of us have had the unfortunate luck of living in Kansas and working in Missouri. Most of you don't know that Kansas has a straight forward well laid out unemployment system, that also has a higher payout limit than Missouri per week, so when you realize you are dealing with Missouri a big "son-of-a" will enter your mind. It is not the greatest realization. Enough about our story, so without further delay:
  • The state you work in, is the state you file in. No, it is not the state that you live in that pays unemployment, it is where you work. Your old HR department can get this wrong as my two neighbors' were told that they would be filing in Kansas.
  • To receive unemployment, you must qualify. The biggest qualification is either being fired or laid off. Each state may have a minimum amount of days worked and some other qualifications.
  • This brings up a point, if you are worried about your job in this economic environment, don't quit, unless you have another job lined up. Also try not to worry either about your job security to the point of stressing yourself out, if you get laid off you may have over 6 months of unemployment you can gather before finding the next job.
  • Fill out forms when you receive them and return them. Yes, most unemployment departments now have most, if not all, of your forms online, but there are a lot of forms, especially in the beginning, that may come through the mail. Fill these out promptly and return them back to the state. Failure to do so, can default your money for the week. This is probably the most important step!
  • Do everything that the state tells you to do, otherwise you will not receive the payout. Missouri asks that you show up every 4 weeks to an unemployment center. I show up, log in on a computer there and go home, it is a seemingly asinine process, but failure to do so defaults the payout until you do it. I understand the point, because those centers have a lot of useful options that can assist you in looking for a new job. Those centers often have real jobs lined up, mock interviews, resume writing help, and more so it can be a useful place if you need it.
  • File every single week, you have to. If you miss a week, it isn't too big of a deal, most let you file for weeks you miss, but know that you will not get paid unless you file. Most will not payout the week you file, but the week after. So if you miss a week, you will receive that payout a week after you do file for it. Obviously you may receive two weeks of payout that following week to make up.
  • Understand your state's rules on severance packages. Kansas wants you to include your severance information on the weekly claim and the state will not payout for that severance week, so you may want to file for unemployment in a state like this near the end of your severance period. Missouri doesn't care about severance, they consider that like bonus money from your past employer, so you could apply if you needed for unemployment right away. In state's like this, I would say it is up to you. I still think that you should begin filing near the end of your severance to maximize the time that you can be unemployed, you may need it, but if you need more money up front to pay off some bills you have the option.
  • How to mark the forms for taking classes or training step by step. Say you want to take a class or two while you are unemployed, please follow these steps so you are not denied payment. Step one always mark the box for did I train or take classes this week. Typically the state will send you an additional form for the first week you do this to know more. Fill the form out honestly with what classes your taking, where, when, etc. Typically these forms will have a spot asking if it affects your ability to work during a normal time period, which it is fine to say yes, but it is brutally important that you mark the next box correctly. If the form asks that you can readjust your class schedule if a job is found, ALWAYS mark this yes. If there isn't a box for this write on the form's note area or attach a sheet saying this. This is the truth, you can quit the class if you need to. Make sure that this form is immediately returned to the state and you should be okay.
  • Start the list of contacted potential employers from the beginning. My neighbor did this, I did not. It took me most of a day one day to put the list together. Forms for making that list can come from the state but you can easily make one yourself. It just needs to have the job, person and company you contacted, their email and/or phone number, and date.
  • Most states have a website with lots of information and a phone number to call. Help is there you just have to look for it.

That's all I have for now. I may edit this some more as I think of other things that I forgot and add something others may comment on.

2 comments:

Guzzo said...

Hmmm.. very interesting. I didn't know all of that.

MJ @ Dyslexic Research said...

Updated post: I forgot about the contacted employers list.