How to apply for unemployment benefits
People everywhere are being furloughed, laid off, or even being let go from their professional positions. In this time of uncertainty, there is no way to predict which industries or business will have to take those types of steps to stay afloat.
If you do find yourself without a job, you may be able to apply for unemployment benefits, which can keep you financially afloat until your employment situation is rectified. Read on for some tips on the process of applying for unemployment and what you can expect.
Talk to your employer
If you have been furloughed due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important that you speak with your employer about your options. Many businesses have received loans or grants that may allow them to offer at least partial paychecks to their employees.
For those businesses who cannot do this, they can still take steps to ensure that your unemployment application process goes more smoothly. Speak to HR before you get started.
It’s important to note that if your employer is filling out the unemployment forms for you because you were let go/have reduced hours due to COVID-19, you do not need to fill out the application form. Your employer will tell you if this is the case.
Get your information together
Applying for unemployment is not a particularly grueling process, but you will need to know specific information. Your employer can provide you with some of this info, and much of the rest should be easy enough to obtain – for instance, details like your company’s mailing address and phone number will be beneficial for you to have beforehand, along with things like your Social Security Number.
Do your research
Applying for unemployment may be something you have never had to do before, so it’s a good idea to do a little research. If you have colleagues or local friends who have applied, send them a quick email to ask for any tips they have for the process. Again, the actual application will not be too difficult, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared. You can also look at places like the Georgia Department of Labor website to learn more details.
Fill out the forms*
Now it’s time to sit down and start the paperwork. The entire application process will take place on the GDOL website, and you will start with entering in your Social Security Number for identification. You will also set up a PIN, which will allow you to access your application later if you are not able to complete it in one sitting.
*Again, please note that if your employer is filling out the forms for you because you were let go or have reduced hours due to COVID-19, you can skip this step. You do not need to fill out the application form.
When a Georgian applies for unemployment insurance, they usually have to enter in weekly work searches to prove that you are actively seeking employment. However, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, that requirement has been waived, as long as the separation of employment is related to the pandemic. But it’s still a good idea to keep up with where your application is in the process. You should receive regular updates; if you don’t, contact the GDOL to find out if they need more information.
Know what to expect
Once your application is received and approved, you will be contacted by the Georgia Department of Labor. They will begin sending you weekly payments, either by a Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®, which will be mailed to your home, or through direct deposit – you can choose which option you prefer.
The typical amount you can expect to receive weekly (Weekly Benefit Amount, or WBA) is your total wages for the two highest quarters combined, divided by 42. For those applying due to COVID-19, you can also expect a weekly addition of up to $600, depending on whether you elect to have taxes taken from the extra weekly amount.
Other things to know
- As stated above, you can choose to have your unemployment wages taxed before you receive them, or wait to pay those taxes until filing for 2020 next spring. If you do choose to have taxes taken out, there will be 10% taken for federal taxes and 6% for state taxes.
- Even if you are still working, but have reduced hours because of the pandemic, you may still be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
- The GDOL has compiled a list of FAQs for these specific circumstances that can be accessed online at any time.
These times are uncertain, but you can still take steps to make sure you and your family have their financial needs met. Be sure to speak to your employer about any questions you may have, and remember that there are many resources on the GDOL website available to you.