Unemployment Help From U.S. Federal Agencies (2020)

Just a month ago, the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the United States. Just two weeks ago, the country’s economy was robust. Today, in one of America’s most historic and frightening fortnite, the country has  lost 10 million jobs. Already, congress and the President have enacted a $2 trillion unprecedented incentive — but economists say it’s not enough. If you are in need of employment help, here are some links to federal government agencies, offices, programs and other resources for those who are facing the challenges of lost jobs, including small business owners who have had to shut their doors. (Source:

(Note: This information was developed by U.S. federal sources.)

What you’ll find on this page

  • Unemployment Benefits and the Coronavirus
  • Apply for Unemployment Benefits
  • Continuation of Health Coverage: COBRA
  • Short-Term and Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Wrongful Discharge/Termination of Employment
  • Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Unemployment Benefits and the Coronavirus

The federal government is allowing states to change their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).Each state’s rules may be different. Contact your state’s unemployment insurance program to learn about and apply for unemployment insurance.

Apply for Unemployment Benefits is a good place to start. It can help with unemployment insurance benefits, job training, and finding a job.

  • Unemployment Insurance: Am I eligible? Unemployment insurance programs pay you money if you lose your job through no fault of your own. You must meet your state’s eligibility requirements.
  • How do I apply? Each state runs its own program. Select your state from this map to find out how to apply. You may be able to file online, by phone, or in person. 
  • Is there anything else I need to know? Some states provide extended benefits when there’s high unemployment. Extended unemployment insurance benefits last for 13 weeks. You can apply for extended benefits only once you’ve run out of regular benefits. Check with your state; not everyone qualifies.
  • Other Types of Benefits and Programs for the Unemployed Educational Help Federal agencies offer many unemployment education and training programs. They are generally free or low cost to the unemployed.Self-Employment

    Self-employment assistance programs help unemployed workers start their own small businesses. Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon offer this program.

Continuation of Health Coverage: COBRA

Learn how you can continue your health care coverage through COBRA.

  • What is COBRA? The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families the right to choose to continue group health coverage provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time.
  • Eligibility There are three basic requirements that must be met for you to be entitled to elect COBRA continuation coverage:
    • Your group health plan must be covered by COBRA
    • A qualifying event must occur (for example, voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, or divorce)
    • You must be a qualified beneficiary for that eventIf you are entitled to elect COBRA continuation coverage, you must be given an election period of at least 60 days to choose whether or not to elect continuation coverage.
  • How to Get COBRA Under COBRA, group health plans must provide covered employees and their families with a notice explaining their COBRA rights. Plans must also have rules for how COBRA continuation coverage is offered, how qualified beneficiaries may elect continuation coverage, and when it can be terminated.For more COBRA information, see An Employee’s Guide to Health Benefits under COBRA.
  • Get More Information or File a Complaint | If you have questions or complaints about your COBRA coverage, contact your plan administrator or the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Note: In some cases, you can change from COBRA coverage to Marketplace health insurance coverage.

Short-Term and Long-Term Disability Insurance

If you can’t work because you get sick or injured, disability insurance will pay part of your income. You may be able to get insurance through your employer. You can also buy your own policy.Close All –

  • Types of Disability Policies There are two types of disability policies.
    • Short-term policies may pay for up to two years. Most last for a few months to a year.
    • Long-term policies may pay benefits for a few years or until the disability ends.Employers who offer coverage may provide short-term coverage, long-term coverage, or both.If you plan to buy your own policy, shop around and ask:
    • How is disability defined?
    • When do benefits begin?
    • How long do benefits last?
    • How much money will the policy pay?
  • Federal Disability Programs

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation laws protect employees who get hurt on the job or sick from it. The laws establish workers’ comp, a form of insurance that employers pay for. These laws vary from state to state and for federal employees.

  • Benefits Provided by Workers’ Compensation In general, workers’ comp provides:
    • Coverage for workers’ medical expenses
    • Compensation for lost wages while a worker is out recovering 
    • Benefits for dependents of workers who died from job-related hazards
  • Private Sector and State or Local Government Employees | If you get hurt working for a private company or state or local government, seek help through your state. Your state workers’ compensation program can help you file a claim. If your claim is denied, you can appeal.
  • Longshoremen, Harbor Workers, Coal Miners, and Federal Employees | Federal laws protect longshoremen, harbor workers, coal miners, and federal employees. Contact the workers’ compensation program that applies to you for help filing a claim.

Wrongful Discharge/Termination of Employment

If you feel that you have been wrongfully fired from a job or let go from an employment situation, you may wish to learn more about your state’s wrongful discharge laws.

  • Wrongful termination or wrongful discharge laws vary from state to state.
  • Some states are “employment-at-will” states, which means that if there is no employment contract (or collective bargaining agreement), an employer can let an employee go for any reason, or no reason, with or without notice, as long as the discharge does not violate a law.

If you feel you have been wrongfully discharged or terminated from employment, you may: 


If you are an employer seeking information about legal termination of employees, you may wish to contact both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and your State Labor Office to ensure you do not violate any federal or state labor laws. You may wish to consult with a licensed attorney.

Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federally funded, state-run benefits program. Also known as welfare, TANF helps families achieve independence after experiencing temporary difficulties.Close All –

  • What help is available through TANF?Recipients may qualify for help with:
    • Food
    • Housing
    • Home energy
    • Child care
    • Job trainingEach state runs its TANF program differently and has a different name.Some tribal groups operate their own TANF programs.
  • Am I eligible for TANF?  
    • Each state or tribal territory decides who is eligible for financial help, services, or other benefits.
    • You must be a resident of the state where you are applying.
  • How do I apply for TANF?To sign-up for temporary benefits, you can:
  • How do I report TANF benefit fraud?If you suspect possible welfare fraud, contact:
  • What else do I need to know about TANF?I f you receive TANF, you may be eligible to receive other government benefits.


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