What to do if you lose your job

November 12, 2008 7:17:15 PM PST
It can take up to a month to get your first unemployment check, the moment you get pink slipped, see if you're eligible for unemployment benefits. You can apply on line, over the phone or in person with your state's labor department. If you qualify, expect about a fourth of your quarterly wages, maxing out $405 dollars a week.

The second step: health insurance. Find out how long of a grace period, if any, is connected to your family's policy. The Federal Cobra Health Provision guarantees continuation of health coverage that otherwise may be terminated, but it's very expensive.

For a temporary solution, check out community health programs. They're often low cost or free.

The third thing you should do is get help. Free financial advice is available from non-profits and hiring a lawyer to negotiate with lenders and even utilities like gas and electric companies can lift an emotional burden worth the price.

Brooklyn bankruptcy lawyer Robert Musso has seen of surge of clients curious about options when bills exceed cashflow. He recommends assessing home equity if you own and job prospects look good down the road to pay the loan back.

Bankruptcy is an option which makes sense for some. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows a temporary suspension of debt collection.

Tax consequences and the stigma rule out bankruptcy for many who lose their jobs.

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