The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about 14.8 million people were unemployed in September 2010. Of these, 6.1 million had not worked in at least 27 weeks. People that do not have jobs often have trouble making ends meet and benefit from financial help from a variety of programs.
All states offer unemployment insurance benefits, according to the United States Department of Labor. Eligibility guidelines, amounts of benefits and the length of time you can receive benefits vary somewhat from state to state, although all states must meet federal guidelines. States usually base the amount you can receive on a percentage of your earnings over the past year. You may be required to look for work or to register with an employment agency while receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is a program available in all states, though in some states it goes by different names. Unemployed men and women with dependent children may qualify if they receive little or no unemployment insurance payments and have little or no savings. While guidelines vary from state to state, in most states you can only receive TANF for a limited period of time. Some states require recipients to look for work or engage in work-related activities like taking GED classes or attending work readiness programs while receiving benefits.
Other Forms of Assistance
Other forms of assistance for which unemployed people might qualify include food stamps, Medicaid, assistance with utility bills, assistance with rent and assistance paying for job training. If you became unemployed due to a disability, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Applying for Assistance
Apply for unemployment benefits at the unemployment insurance agency in your state. Apply for TANF at the welfare agency in the county in which you live. The name of the agency varies from state to state; in Kentucky they call it the Cabinet of Health and Family Services while in Illinois they call it the Department of Human Services. You can apply for food stamps and Medicaid at the same place. Visit your local Social Security Administration office to apply for SSDI or SSI.
Amount of Assistance
The amount of assistance you can get if you lose your job depends on which programs you qualify for. The amount of unemployment insurance you can get depends on how much you earned from work over the past year. The amount of TANF you can get depends on your family size and any other sources of income you might have. The amount of food stamps you can get depends on your family size and income. The best way to find out how much assistance you can get is to simply apply.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm. Employment Situation Summary.
United States Department of Labor. http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/uifactsheet.asp. State Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
Administration for Children and Families. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/tanf/about.html. About TANF.
Social Security Administration. http://www.ssa.gov/d&s1.htm. Disability and SSI.