From TBJ: What should I do if I lose my job?


For those of you dealing with the tough economy, this article provides a good roadmap of how to land on your feet as you begin your search.

“It’s a question that no one wants to contemplate: How do I get unemployment benefits if I lose my job?

Unfortunately, these days, more folks are having to answer that question. The jobless rate across North Carolina was 7.9 percent in November – a month that saw the state shed 58,000 jobs. So many people are out of work that the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina has reported server troubles with its Web site this week.

Here are some tips to follow if you lose your job.

First, figure out whether you’re eligible for unemployment benefits . According to the ESC, you must have worked in two of the quarters in a “base period” – typically the first four of the past five calendar quarters – to be eligible. You also must have become unemployed through no fault of your own; this means people who are fired for cause or who quit their jobs might not be eligible. And you are not eligible for unemployment benefits until any separation pay (severance pay, vacation pay, etc.) runs out.

If you are eligible, get what you need to file for benefits . You must have the dates of your last employment and the amount you were paid. If you aren’t a citizen, you might need your alien registration number. If you were in the military, you might need your dates of service.

Apply for benefits . There are three ways to file for unemployment benefits in North Carolina. You can apply at your local branch office of the ESC; those locations can be found here . You can apply at the ESC’s Web site . Or you can call a toll-free, 24-hour number: (877) 841-9617. If you have questions, click on one of the e-mail links on this page.