Financial matters are often a severe source of stress for those who lose their jobs. But, like all stress-causing factors, financial problems can be managed. First, find out where you stand. What bills must you pay (food, rent or mortgage, utility bills, etc.)? What personal expenses can you eliminate or postpone (dining out, new clothes, new cars, new investments)?
Dealing with creditors. If you have a mortgage, talk with the mortgage holder about renegotiating your payments. If you are a tenant, talk to your landlord about the rent. Don’t wait until a crisis arises. People are more likely to be understanding if you communicate with them. At the same time, you may also want to contact a tenants’ rights organization to further explore your options.
If you have credit card debt and/or car payments, you may get help in planning your debt payments from a credit and debt counseling agency for a fee. Some cities have free consumer counseling agencies or ones that charge only a nominal fee.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This program assists lower-income individuals and families with heating costs in the winter. HEAP currently provides grants for heating bills of up to $900 depending on a household’s income; family size; living arrangement; heating expenses; type of heat; and presence of children under 6, adults 60 or over, and disabled individuals. Both renters and homeowners are eligible for assistance.
About 800,000 families in New York receive assistance from the HEAP program each year. Applications for HEAP assistance can be downloaded from www.otda.state.ny.us. Applications and eligibility information can also be obtained by calling the HEAP hotline at 1-800-342-3009, county departments of social services or county offices for the aging.
Leave your credit cards at home. In addition, immediately call your creditors and explain your situation. If you anticipate difficulties in paying them, arrange a payment plan or seek advice on a consolidation loan. Always try to pay something, even if it’s below the minimum. By saving your line of credit, you will have it in case of emergency. Pay cash for everything. That includes groceries, gasoline and personal items. By using cash, you will avoid accumulating incoming bills.
If you are a veteran, you receive priority service in all New York State employment and training programs. The Department of Labor has veterans’ employment representatives, who are veterans themselves, specifically trained to assist you in transitioning from the military, finding a new job, or starting a new career. Some of the services provided include:
Referral to jobs
Contacting employers on your behalf
Resume preparation assistance
Information on federal, state and local civil service opportunities
Job search planning
Labor market information
Information on direct appointment to civil service positions
Referral to other agencies that provide services to veterans
Every state in America is feeling the impact of the current economic crisis. New York has been hit especially hard. Workers from Wall Street to Main Street are losing their jobs at an unprecedented rate.
In the last two years, new unemployment claims averaged around 12,000-13,000 per week. In January and February 2009, new claims are averaging 25,000 per week. Last year at this time, 175,000 individuals were receiving unemployment benefits. New York State currently has over 420,000 individuals receiving assistance.
The Federal Stimulus Plan will help unemployed workers by:
increasing benefits by $25 per week
continuing the extended unemployment benefits program through Dec. 31, 2009—qualifying eligible applicants for a total of 59 weeks of benefits
paying 65 percent of COBRA premiums for 9 months for eligible workers
Albany, NY 12248