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8 things to consider if you have been laid off
Dept of Labor.jpg
The Georgia Department of Labor office is located at 2756 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

The coronavirus has left millions of workers nationwide scrambling to figure out next steps as they face rent, mortgage and utility bills, and buying food.

Experts, including Nasdaq stock exchange, have weighed in on this serious topic, giving tips on how to deal with what is a very tough situation for workers.

Here’s some guidance:


Apply for unemployment

This likely should be the first step, as it can put cash in your bank account. 

Georgians can visit the GDOL website at www.dol.georgia.gov to access applications, step-by-step instructions, and video tutorials on applying for unemployment.

“With the huge volume of claims the agency is receiving, people need to use the online tools where possible,” according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

The federal stimulus package approved by Congress last week expanded unemployment insurance benefits, among other things.

The length of time someone can collect benefits has been extended from 14 weeks to 26 weeks.


Contact banks and lenders

Contact companies you pay regularly,including mortgage and credit card companies, and see if they can provide relief, reducing or even waiving fees.

“Be proactive and ask for the help, stating specifically that you are financially impacted by the coronavirus,” Nasdaq says. “Many financial institutions are deferring payments on personal loans, auto loans, home loans and credit card payments for those who were laid off or are sick and can’t work.”


Analyze personal finances

While Netflix seems to be sustaining many families stuck at home, this may be a time to suspend gym memberships and cut back on cable and other non-essential expenses, according to Nasdaq,


Check out community resources

“Communities are pulling together to help those hardest hit by the pandemic. Now is the time to take advantage of those resources,” Nasdaq says.

Even though Georgia public K-12 schools are closed, food deliveries to students will continue in Gainesville and Hall County schools with the exception of spring break, which is April 6-10.

Other community groups and industry associations are banding together to help those in the service, entertainment and hospitality sectors, which have been hit particularly hard by mandatory closures.

Local food pantries, and there are plenty of those in the Hall County area.


Keep an eye on the mailbox, bank account

Money is coming to families nationwide because of a federal stimulus package passed by Congress.

Those who make less than $75,000 a year will receive direct payments of $1,200 per individual, or $2,400 for a joint return, plus $500 per child. This will phase out for incomes above $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filings.

Checks will go straight to bank accounts for those with direct deposit information on file with the IRS. Otherwise, paper checks will be mailed.


Apply for short-term help

Some banks and credit unions are offering emergency loans to help cover the gap between the time you’re laid off and when unemployment checks come in or you are able to return to work, according to Nasdaq

Loans are typically for a few thousand dollars, maximum, with no payments for 60 to 90 days.


Consider health insurance options

“If you’re married, the easiest way to get coverage once you’ve lost yours is to jump onto a spouse’s plan or, depending on your provider, your domestic partner’s plan,” according to Acorns, an online investment tool.

A job loss is considered a “qualifying life event” that opens up a special enrollment period that should allow you to make the shift.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, is a government program that lets you extend your health plan for up to 18 months after you lose your job. To see if you’re eligible for coverage, ask your former employer’s human resources department or contact the Georgia Department of Labor.

Medicaid may be able to help, as it is a government program designed to help low-income households access health insurance. 

Finally, you can buy a plan through Georgia’s marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.


Find a part-time job

Many companies are hiring, particularly in retail, to meet everyday needs of consumers, including Target, Walmart, Dollar General and others.

The best part of this is a person can now make up to $300 weekly at a part-time job and receive their full unemployment amount. Previously, the maximum amount was $50 weekly.


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