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Resources for Unemployment Issues

June 19, 2004

 

  • State Unemployment Compensation Office Links - This page shows the direct links to the state Website that administers your unemployment compensation benefits. MedSave.com also provides these links directly to each state-specific listing of low cost benefit plans). You are generally eligible for unemployment compensation benefits if you were dismissed due to a lack of work, but not if you quit or were fired for other reasons.

  • COBRA and COBRA alternatives - COBRAplan.com offers consumer information comparing COBRA coverage to less expensive COBRA alternatives in a detailed Q&A format.

  • MedSave.com provides online enrollment for low cost health insurance as well as links to your local Blue Cross Association if you are not eligible for commercial health insurance. Some plans are offered through the state insurance departments or Blue Cross/Blue Shield associations at a reduced cost for low income residents of each state.

  • article: "Surviving a layoff"
  • article: "COBRA vs. Short term medical insurance"

A critical time for financial planning

If you recently became unemployed, they you probably face a number of decisions about your benefits. This is a critical time for good financial decision-making and professional help may be useful. Now more than ever, you need to make every dollar stretch farther and take advantage of every opportunity to save money. Decisions you made now will affect your taxes and financial options later, so don't take these financial planning issues lightly.

OnlineAdviserTM provides affordable telephone service on critical issues related to job changes, employer-provided benefit plans and related tax issues.    Details on this free service are available at http://www.medsave.com/onlineadviser.htm.  

Overview of unemployment benefits

There are generally three types of unemployment benefit issues that most people face when leaving a job. Please take a few minutes to review this before contacting us for more information:

1) Unemployment Compensation - this is a payment from your state as a temporary replacement of your prior wages. You are eligible if you were dismissed for lack of work available, but you are not eligible if you left voluntarily or were fired for another reason. See the Unemployment Compensation Web page for answers to most questions. This page also contains links to each state and county office where you must file a claim for benefits. (Please note that questions on unemployment compensation are generally not handled by OnlineAdviserTM. This program is governed entirely by the state that assigns a case representative to handle all questions).

2) COBRA - this is a continuation of your health insurance benefits. Everyone who worked for a company with more than 20 employees is eligible for this benefit, regardless of the reason for termination of employment. Detail must come from your prior employer and are not available from any other source. You may elect to pay the full cost of the group health coverage yourself for up to 18 months.  Most people leaving a job do not elect COBRA coverage because more attractive health insurance alternatives are usually available at a lower price.  Lower cost COBRA alternatives may be available on your state-specific listing of low cost insurance plans.

3) Qualified Plan Rollover - It is possible to avoid or at least delay taxes on your 401(k) or other retirement plan money coming from a former employer by arranging for a "trustee-to-trustee transfer". OnlineAdviser provides free e-mail support with questions about this type of transaction but the account is handled entirely by a bank or investment company of your choice. There is usually no direct cost to do a trustee-to-trustee transfer, but you must be careful to arrange the transaction to avoid receiving the funds from your retirement plan prematurely or there will be unfavorable tax consequences. Once the transfer of the account takes place, you may then begin taking cash distributions without penalty, especially to cover some qualified expenses while you are unemployed.


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