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Unemployment Benefits to End for 650,000: What to Do?

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By Neetal Parekh on July 23, 2009 12:52 PM

The recession that has claimed 6.5 million jobs from the country's economy since the end of 2007 is now poised to take away the unemployment benefits from its standing army of employable job-seekers.  An estimated 650,000 people will lose their benefits by September 2009. 

The good news is that economic indicators are looking up and financial experts are cautiously optimistic that the country is on the long road back.  And while that may ultimately help you, right now you may be in need of an immediate exit strategy.  Here are three simple action items you can do, now.

1. Apply for an Extension.

State-supplied unemployment benefits are typically available to filers for twenty-six weeks after their job loss.  After unemployment benefits run, filers may be eligible to enroll in programs for an extension of benefits--potentially adding months of extra benefits coverage.  Find out about applying for an extension through your state. 

States are increasingly passing legislation to extend benefits.  Take Massachusetts for example--where state law was recently revised to allow qualified unemployment benefit applicants to receive 59 weeks of unemployment benefits and an additional 20 weeks if the applicant is still unemployed.  Similarly, in Pennsylvania, state officials are working on law that would extend unemployment benefits for an additional seven weeks. 

Take a look at your state's official government website for information and possibly an online application.

2. Turn the Search for the Perfect Job Into "The Perfect Job, For Now" Search

With the economy cautiously on the mend, you should definitely keep up the search for the ideal job.  But while the financial sector in recovery mode, consider taking a job for now that will help pay the bills and  keep you fresh in the job market.  Temp jobs, part-time work, freelancing, odd jobs or side-businesses may tide you over until the the next big thing.  Executives dog-walking, lawyers serving up lattes, engineers guest-blogging, teachers taking on catering gigs---it may not be where you see yourself in six months, but if it alleviates immediate financial strain now, don't dog it.  Besides, you never know what opportunities, expected and unexpected, can come from them.

3. Phone a Friend. 

During times of financial strain it is natural to want to recoil and seal yourself off from the world.  But buck the trend and stay social.  Seek out support systems and be part of others' support networks.  Volunteer, attend city hall meetings, organize a neighborhood barbeque, play pick-up sports.  Stay active and engaged to keep perspective and maintain positivity.  Sidestep any resistance from your ego and get help when you need it.  There is help available in all forms---and the digital age leaves you a few clicks from finding relevant resources to tackle any tough problem. 

This too shall pass, react accordingly.

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