With the country's unemployment rate at a 25-year high, 12.5 million people are currently out of work—and millions more may be laid off in the coming months. Even if you still have a job, financial expert Suze Orman says it's never too early to start formulating an unemployment action plan. "I know a lot of you never thought in your wildest dreams ... that you'd have to go and get unemployment, as if there's some disgrace about it. There isn't," she says. "It is an entitlement that you actually deserve. But you have got to take an action."
4 Things You Need to Know About Unemployment:
You have to be laid off to collect. You cannot apply if you quit.
There is no time limit to apply.
If you apply and are denied unemployment, you have a limited time to appeal. Each state is different, so check the time frame with your local office.
You can apply online. "So you don't have to go down; you don't have to do all these things that could be embarrassing for you," Suze says.
If you are suddenly out of a job, Suze says your next step must be to put in an unemployment application. "Do not wait," she says.
How Unemployment Benefits Work: 1. The dollar amount you receive will never be more than 50 percent of your current salary.
2. In most cases, you can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits.
3. If you qualify for an extension, you can receive up to 46 weeks of benefits.
4. Under the new economic stimulus package, you will get an extra $25 a week in your unemployment check. That $100 a month can go a long way.
But remember: What you receive in unemployment is taxable. "Unemployment is not just this free lunch," Suze says. "However, the other good news that has recently happened with the stimulus program and the other things is the first $2,400 a month is tax-free."