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What to do When You Lose Your Job


I’ve been attending a Job Transition group since I got the news of my impending lay off.  It’s been great to connect with like minded people (faith based group) who are going or who have gone through similar situations.  This morning the talk to turned to me with questions of healthcare now, unemployment benefits and general “what to do when you lose your job” tasks.

It’s been a LONG time since I was here…2006 to be exact.  Then it was pretty cut and dried.  I applied for unemployment benefits that lasted 4-6 months, paid for COBRA medical coverage for up to 18 months to continue our medical benefits and started a job hunt with weekly reporting to the Employment Commission to continue to receive my unemployment payments.

Now I’m not leaving corporate, I’m leaving contract work so no unemployment as far as I know, no COBRA and I had three weeks notice rather than the single day I had last time.  Very different and not so cut and dried.

So I’m hear asking for your collective wisdom…what do you do now when you lose a job?  Here’s what the Job Transition group advised me this morning….

  1. Apply for unemployment…let them tell me if I’m eligible or not.  At least it might result in some temporary income.
  2. With the new Obamacare, I cannot let my medical insurance lapse or I will face penalty, so I have to do something about that.  And without steady income, well that could be problematic.
  3. There  are lots of alternative resources out there, research them now, apply for help now, just in case, so that I don’t get to the point where I’m panicking and reach the point of no return with certain financial matters…suggestions are United Way (strict guidelines for help that I probably wouldn’t meet at this point,) local churches are not governed by strict regulations, grants for single moms, etc.

So here I am asking for your best advice, what would you do in my shoes?  What steps do I take now?


  • Reply Adam |

    Some of these things are great for getting temporary assistance, I hope that some of these avenues will provide some help for you. Also, if it were me, I’d make sure I was the most dogged job seeker around – set a target to apply for 10 jobs a day and try to make personal contact with at least somebody who might be able to point you toward an opportunity every single day.

    There should also be a central place in your city or county where resources to help people out of work are coordinated – maybe it’s the unemployment agency or some similar agency, but they will be able to point you several different directions on temporary help.

    Good luck!

  • Reply Adam |

    Your kids should qualify for state children’s health insurance I would imagine. So that leaves just your own coverage. Letting health insurance lapse is risky, but you should weigh the cost of paying the penalty vs. paying for coverage every month. It might be more cost effective to pay the penalty. I’m certainly not informed on Obamacare policies, but I think there are pretty good subsidies that adjust the price of coverage based on your income level.

    • Reply Angie |

      Please do not skip healthcare coverage. One incident would bankrupt you!

      ACA subsidies are based on income. So with lower projected income you would get a higher subsidy. Paperwork might be difficult for contract work but worth it I think. You are at a good time, since its recalculated every year and your 2016 income will be projected low without a major contract.

      • Reply Ashley |

        I was going to mention this! I’ve had a couple friends that have had free (or very, very inexpensive – like $10/month) subsidized health insurance when they were very low income. Not sure how the whole application process works, but something to consider that you may be eligible for super cheap (or free!) health insurance if you are out of work.

      • Reply Jen From Boston |

        Ditto! My fiance got free health insurance from MassHealth last year when his income was very, very low. However, it was pretty bureaucratic, so put your patience cap on! If you can find someone who has gotten subsidized health care in VA before that’d be helpful. My fiance had a friend who’d also gotten insurance through MassHealth, and it helped to have a guide to navigate the bureaucracy.

        • Reply Hope |

          Thanks, Jen, I actually meet with the intake person tomorrow to start the application process. I keep hoping I will get a job offer and I won’t need it, but with my kids especially better to be safe then sorry.

  • Reply Angie |

    United Way has a free hotline 211 to help you navigate available resources and help you determine if you qualify. Its staffed, no commitments, and just help you find whats in your area. If you feel like you need it give them a call without guilt. From what I understand its a very underutilized system. But they have all the information available to them whereas individually there is no way you could find/research everything!

  • Reply Jay |

    Not sure on unemployment benefits. As a contractor, do you pay unemployement insurance? If so then you may quality for benefits. If not, is there any opportunity to do any special projects for your current client? I might recommend specific initiatives that they need and you’d be able to tackle as one-offs. you might get them or maybe not, but I guess keeping the conversation going is helpful. Also do you think you’ll need to pick another career or will this turn around over time? Hope it works out.

  • Reply kate |

    I agree about looking for subsidized health coverage. Not sure your exact numbers but if you are projected to have a very low income you might even qualify for Medicaid. Don’t be afraid to take it if thats the case.

  • Reply Jean |

    To help with your income stream temporarily, could you take a seasonal job at a local retailer? It’s that time of the year. I think there are “Help Wanted” signs in almost every store I’ve been in over the past several weeks – restaurants included (although I use that term loosely…)

  • Reply April |

    +1 on pretty much all of these comments. You also may want to look into all the shared economy-type opportunities to see if any of them will work for you (Care.com, Task Rabbit, Uber, Relay Rides, etc). None of them will ease all your pain, but they may help supplement, particularly since you’re probably not eligible for unemployment (though I would go ahead and apply just to be sure).
    I think it’s awesome you’re part of this group, and I’m sure it will help get you through this challenging time.

So, what do you think ?