Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that the economy hasn’t been at its greatest lately. Due to many significant factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as political disputes around the world, the federal government has been struggling to keep the economy stable for Americans. As a result of the economy slowing down, money has been tight for everyone. Basic life necessities, such as housing have been getting more and more expensive every day.
On the business side of things, life has been getting significantly more difficult. Due to the factors mentioned above, businesses, big and small, have been struggling to keep their doors open. When it comes to small businesses, owners struggled to keep business running due to the lack of revenue. As a result, many small businesses had to either shut down or lay off workers. Neither result is positive. But, tough times call for tough measures.
When it comes to large corporations, they have been laying off workers left, right and center. As you can probably imagine, that has resulted in a huge rise in unemployment nationwide. While the economy is slowly recovering, many people are still out of jobs. The government isn’t exactly blind to the issue. That is why the federal government created a series of assistance programs to help those in need. Among those federal assistance programs is one called Unemployment Insurance.
What Exactly Is Unemployment Insurance?
In the common scenario, every adult should be able to work a steady job, earn their income and cover their own necessities. These basic necessities can include things such as housing, nutrition and healthcare. When we mention housing, we mean things beyond just rent or mortgage. To live in safe sanitary housing, you’ll need to pay your utility bills, as well as internet subscriptions. All of these bills add up to a significant sum every month. Without income, most people would struggle to make ends meet.
Things get a little more challenging when there’s family to look after. For an individual, making certain budget cuts is somewhat manageable. However, when someone has a partner and kids, compromises are more difficult to make. Besides that, families directly lead to an individual’s bills multiplying. So, whatever they paid while single for housing or food will at least double at the end of the month.
So what happens if that individual loses their job due to no fault of their own? Obviously, that would be considered a financial crisis, especially if they struggle to get another job. Thankfully, the government has unemployment insurance to have your back.
How Unemployment Insurance Works
In simple words, the government, through unemployment insurance, can provide you with checks that will help you finance your basic needs. According to the government, these checks want to “provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements.” That means the government will give you these checks if you lost your job without it being your fault. So, if you lost your job due to misbehavior or if you’ve done anything wrong at work, you won’t qualify for unemployment insurance.
You may know this program as “unemployment insurance”, “unemployment checks” or “unemployment benefits.” The program, much like other federal assistance programs, comes with its own set of qualifying criteria. You must satisfy those qualifications to be eligible to receive its benefits.
- To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have lost your previous job without it being your fault. That means you can claim unemployment benefits only if there’s no work available for you.
- There are certain work and wage requirements that you must satisfy. You have to meet the minimum wage earned and/or time worked standards. In most states, you’ll need to have worked for the past 12 out of 15 past months at the time you’re applying for the benefits.
- Different states may require other qualifications. Make sure to check out this website for more information on applying.
How To Apply For Unemployment Insurance
The application process for Unemployment Insurance is pretty straightforward. However, there is one important point to remember. You should always provide truthful and accurate information whenever you apply for any government assistance, especially unemployment insurance. Any information that is false may result in your application getting delayed or scrapped altogether.
- You’ll need to contact your state’s unemployment insurance program.
- Make sure to apply for unemployment in the state where you worked. If you now live in a different state from the one where you worked or worked in different states, your current state’s unemployment agency can guide you to apply for the benefits in different states.
- When you apply for unemployment benefits, you’ll have to answer questions regarding your previous employment. That information will include addresses and dates for your previous occupation. Make sure to answer all questions accurately to avoid any delays.
- If your application goes smoothly, you can expect to receive your first unemployment insurance check two to three weeks after applying.
The Government Still Expects You To Pay Taxes
Typically, we do our jobs, get our income, and pay our taxes. In the case of unemployment insurance, we’re not working, and we’re getting financial assistance from the government. Well, the government still counts that as a form of income. That is why the government expects you to pay a part of these unemployment benefits back to them in the form of taxes.
Basically, when you’re filing your taxes, you’ll need to report your unemployment checks. If you want, you can put aside 10% of the benefits to pay for your taxes automatically. But, you really don’t need to do that. Experts will actually tell you not to do that, unless you’re absolutely sure you can live off the rest of the money. If you do, you can fill in the IRS Form W-4V.
You Need To Keep Reapplying For Your Unemployment Benefits To Continue Receiving Them
If you’ve already applied for unemployment insurance, got your application approved, and received your first check, congratulations! Now, it’s important to remember to keep reapplying for these benefits. Otherwise, you may risk not receiving your checks in the future. You should also keep a work log. To receive your benefits, you must prove you’re looking for jobs. That doesn’t just help with your claim, but can also help you find a new job. Your work log must contain at least three different attempts at finding jobs. If you fail to prove you’re looking for jobs, you might not be able to get your unemployment benefits.
You May Be Able To Receive Your Unemployment Checks For Longer
These unemployment checks are not meant to finance you forever. The government through unemployment insurance just tries to support you till you get a stable job. But, if you’re truly struggling to get a job, and can prove it, you can apply to get these checks for a little while longer. The extended period will vary from one state to the other. Some states will offer a 13-week extension, while others will offer a 26-week extension. But, as always, there are some qualifications you must satisfy:
- You already finished your regular unemployment benefits
- You’re still out of a job, but also still looking for one
- Your state has a high unemployment rate
Other Federal Assistance Programs That May Help You If You Lose Your Job
There is a long list of federal assistance programs that Americans can apply for. Oftentimes, Americans will not apply for these programs because they don’t know about them, or they don’t know how to apply for them. Fortunately, the government created a website to help out with just that.
Benefits.gov is a website that shows all kinds of government assistance programs. The website includes programs that cover issues such as housing, education, healthcare, and more. Another issue that faces Americans when considering applying for government assistance is not knowing whether they qualify for these programs. Benefits.gov addresses that issue in a very efficient way. There is a function called Benefit Finder. This function will require you to answer a list of simple questions. After that, the website will tell you about all the federal assistance programs that you qualify for.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The government created the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to make monthly payments for Americans. The federal government, through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), focuses on helping low-income Americans. However, the program focuses on a specific group of low-income Americans. That group includes only Americans who have physical limitations that get in the way of making a higher income. Let’s take a look at the list of people the government aims to serve through the Supplemental Security Income program:
- At least 65 years old or above, and/or;
- Have a physical disability that prevents you from having the ability to work that will last at least a year or result in death and/or blind
- Have limited income and resources
- Be a US citizen or an eligible immigrant
- Live in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
- The government will make exceptions for children of military parent(s) assigned to permanent duty anywhere outside the United States or certain students temporarily abroad.
How To Qualify For SSI
The government wants to help people with low incomes and valid reasons for not being able to make higher ones. Obviously, when applying for SSI, the government will require documents to prove these ‘reasons’. The three main criteria of challenges that hinder a person’s ability to make higher income that SSI will consider are old age, a physical disability that renders a person unable to work for at least a year, and blindness.
Moreover, SSA will look at 2 things when they look over your application: your income and the things you own (a.k.a your resources). Your income includes things such as your wages, pension and social security benefits. Things such as food and shelter may also find their way into the equation.
When it comes to the things you own, SSA will look at your bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds. You may receive SSI money from SSA if your resources are worth less than $2,000. Also, if you’re applying for SSI as a couple, that resource limit may increase to $3,000.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Also known as “Disability Benefits” this program aims to pay benefits to an American and their family members if they’re “insured.” This means that they worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings. This can come in handy for families that struggle to make ends meet due to the inability of caretakers to make a good enough income. There is a list of diseases eligible for SSDI that applicants must have one of to qualify for SSDI.
The application process for SSDI is not too complex. All you’ll have to do is provide all the information required. Much like with any other program, you really want to make sure you provide accurate and truthful information. You really don’t want there to be any reason for your application to be delayed, or, god forbid, rejected.
Here’s How To Apply For Social Security Disability Insurance
- You should start by gathering the information and documents you need to apply. The government suggests you print and review the Adult Disability Checklist. It will help you gather the information you need to complete the application.
- Fill in all the information required and submit your application
- The government will then review your application to make sure you meet some basic requirements for disability benefits.
- They’ll need to make sure you worked enough years to qualify.
- They’ll also check if you have any current work activities.
- After that, your application will be processed. The government will forward your case to the Disability Determination Services office in your state.
- This State agency makes the disability determination decision.
Here’s the link to start your application process.