By Tim Klepaczyk
There are two things that I recommend everyone do immediately after being laid off.
First, apply for unemployment insurance. I understand that the Unemployment Office was created by the same wicked minds that came up with the DMV, but at this point you must make a personal appearance there. Some people mistakenly think if they received a severance package they are not eligible for unemployment insurance. Actually, this is generally not true, although it varies among different states. Note, also, if you lack a good reason, an appeal for unclaimed insurance will be turned down. Therefore, apply for unemployment insurance immediately – better to return unearned insurance than to be unable to collect what you otherwise could have.
Fortunately, certifying for unemployment benefits is easy to do on-line. Back in the day one was required to certify by phone. Rarely could you count on getting through whenever you wanted on your prescribed call-in day. Phone certification remains an option, but ready access to an on-line questionnaire will quickly disavow most of the habit of certifying by phone.
The other thing I recommend you do immediately is make a decision about your health insurance, assuming your former employer provided such insurance. COBRA allows continuation of an employer-based plan, but it is not inexpensive. While federal legislation has at times reduced the cost of COBRA, this is not always true, and there are worthwhile alternatives.
Emergency health care insurance is easy to find on the Internet. Many are available at a fraction of the normal cost of COBRA. I recommend emergency health care for most young people. Older folks should consider enrolling in COBRA to extend their existing coverage if it is full service. In general though if you are single, in good health, and have no pre-existing conditions, consider an emergency health care plan instead of COBRA.
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