Unemployment serves as a lifeline of sorts for workers who aren't terminated for cause. In other words, someone who gets fired for consistently showing up late to the office won't be eligible, but if you lost your job because your company downsized, you can generally file a claim for benefits.
The amount of money you get from unemployment will depend on what you earned and where you worked. Either way, your unemployment payments aren't designed to replace your entire paycheck but rather a portion thereof. Still, collecting those benefits while you search for new work is crucial, especially if you don't have much in the way of savings to tide yourself over and your company doesn't offer a particularly generous severance package.
Of course, not everyone is eligible for unemployment, and you'll need to meet certain requirements (which vary by state) to get your hands on that money. You might therefore be wondering what happens if you're a woman who loses her job during a pregnancy. Are you allowed to file for benefits, or must you wait until after your child is born to submit a claim?
Pregnancy and unemployment
There are certain criteria you must meet to be eligible for unemployment benefits. As stated previously, you cannot have been fired for cause, and you'll need to have worked for a company that paid unemployment taxes. Another requirement for collecting benefits is that you must be able and available to work at another job should you find one. Therefore, if your pregnancy isn't preventing you from doing your job at a new company, there's no issue with filing a claim.
Furthermore, you're not required to disclose your pregnancy during the filing process if it doesn't impact your ability to work. For example, say you're a bookkeeper who sits at a desk all day, and you have no complications associated with your pregnancy. If you're laid off four months in, there's no reason why you couldn't conceivably continue working another five months up until delivering your child. Therefore, you should feel free to submit an unemployment claim.
That said, if you're eligible for benefits through your delivery date, you should probably suspend them during any period that you're physically unable to work. Generally, when you claim unemployment, you submit an initial claim and then follow that up with a weekly check-in of sorts during which you certify that you were able and available to work. If you deliver a child on a Monday, however, and spend that week in the hospital, you'll want to acknowledge that you were not, in fact, available for work during that period. In that case, what will usually happen is that you won't get benefits for that particular week, but you can claim them during a future week when you are available for work.
Remember, most states offer unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. If you skip a week or two because you're unable to work, you don't necessarily lose out on those benefits. Rather, the period during which you collect benefits is simply pushed out. Or, to put it another way, if you lose your job 24 weeks before delivering and your state gives you 26 weeks of benefits, you can (assuming your claim is processed immediately -- there's often a lag) collect unemployment for 24 weeks, put your benefits on hold for a month-long maternity leave, and then collect two more weeks' worth of benefits if you're still unemployed at that point.
Getting laid off is never fun, but when it happens during a pregnancy, things can get even more complicated. If that happens to you, know that pregnancy does not disqualify you from getting unemployment benefits. And given the expense of a newborn child, you'll probably welcome them.
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