Lost Your Boosted Unemployment Benefits? Here Are Your Next Steps
by Maurie Backman | Published on Sept. 7, 2021
Here's what to do if you're losing the $300 a week that's been helping you stay afloat.
When the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was signed into law back in March, the public was quick to celebrate the fact that they'd be getting another round of stimulus payments in their bank accounts. But the massive relief bill didn't just allow for stimulus funds to go out. It also sent jobless Americans a lifeline by boosting unemployment benefits by $300 a week.
For many unemployed workers, that extra $300 has helped them cover their bills in the absence of much savings to fall back on. But unfortunately, the American Rescue Plan only put that boost in place through Labor Day, and at this point, it's no longer in play. That doesn't mean people will lose all of their unemployment benefits, but those weekly payments will shrink substantially.
If you've lost your boosted benefits and haven't yet managed to find a job, you may be feeling distressed -- and understandably so. Here are some moves you can try to help make up for that loss.
1. Try getting a series of gigs
Though there are millions of jobs available today, that doesn't mean you'll have an easy time finding one. You may work in an industry where hiring hasn't yet ramped up, or you may be grappling with childcare constraints that make a full-time job difficult to take on right now.
If that's the case, look at doing different gigs on a part-time basis. You may, for example, be able to find a data entry job you can do from home for a few hours here and there. Or you may be able to drive for a ride-hailing company a few evenings a week. Those gigs could provide extra income to take the place of the $300 a week you're now missing.
2. Rework your budget
If you've been relying on unemployment benefits over the past few months, you may already be on quite a tight budget. But it wouldn't hurt to take another close look at your expenses and see if there's any way to trim back. Even very minor changes like switching to a cell phone plan that's $10 a month cheaper could make a big difference when your main source of income has suddenly been reduced.
3. Slash your housing costs
Housing is the typical American's largest monthly expense. If you can reduce that expense on a temporary basis until you're employed full time, then you might manage to get by in the absence of that extra $300 a week.
If you're not locked into a lease and you can move without spending a lot of money (say, you have friends who can help you out for free), then it may be worth looking into a smaller living space. Otherwise, see if you can make your current space less costly by getting a roommate.
The fact that boosted unemployment ran out may not have come as a shock. After all, that boost was only set up to last through early September from the start. But that doesn't mean you're having an easy time without it.
If you're struggling, see if the above moves will help. You may also want to see if you're eligible for other types of assistance, like SNAP benefits to help with your food costs. Even if your financial crunch is temporary in nature, it pays to access all the aid you can get.
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