Laid Off During the COVID-19 Crisis? 4 Cash Sources You May Be Entitled To

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Lost your job? Money could be coming your way in these forms.

With health advocates insisting that social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19, many businesses are closing their doors. That's good news from a health perspective, but bad news from an employment standpoint. 

If you've lost your job during the ongoing crisis, there are several cash sources you may be entitled to. Here are a few worth exploring.

1. Unemployment benefits

Eligibility for unemployment varies by state, but if you meet your state's requirements and lose your job through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to benefits that put some money in your pocket on a weekly basis. (The number of weeks of benefits you can collect varies by state, but as per the recently approved stimulus package, all states will be extending benefits by 13 weeks on top of their normal thresholds.) Generally, you can sign up for unemployment benefits online, and it pays to file a claim as soon as possible to avoid a lag in income. 

2. Severance

If you've been laid off, you may be entitled to a severance payout from your employer. That said, companies aren't required to provide severance, and the amount you're entitled to could depend on how long you worked for your employer. If it wasn't a very long time, you may not get much of a payout. Another thing you should know is that getting severance pay could delay your unemployment benefits. For example, if you receive the equivalent of four weeks of severance, you may need to wait those four weeks before being entitled to benefits. 

3. Cashed-out sick or vacation days

If you're entitled to paid time off through your job, you may be eligible to receive the cash equivalent of the days you weren't able to take. For example, if you lost your job at the end of March, at which point you'd have accrued six days of time off, you may be entitled to get paid for those days. But as is the case with severance pay, that income could mean having to wait longer to receive unemployment benefits. 

4. A stimulus payment

On March 27, President Trump signed a major stimulus package into law that could put some serious money in your pocket, provided you don't earn too much to qualify. Each U.S. adult gets $1,200 under this plan, plus another $500 per qualifying dependent child. While there's no exact date for when these payments will go out, the government is hoping to issue them within three weeks. And if the IRS has your bank account details on record because you signed up for direct deposit for a recent refund, your stimulus payment will go directly into that account. 

Losing your job can be a major financial blow, but the good news is that relief could be coming your way in one form or another. At the same time, if you're out of work and need more time to pay your bills, don't hesitate to ask your service providers or loan issuers for more leeway. There's a very good chance you'll get it.

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