It’s been said that change is the only constant in life, and the unfortunate reality is that sometimes this change includes a job loss. The impact of losing your job is widespread, with 15.4 million layoffs in 2022 and 40% of Americans having experienced it at one point in their lives.
Having a contingency plan in place can help you navigate through times of uncertainty. In this article, we’ll guide you through five steps to help you get through a job loss and offer insights to help you navigate this challenging period with confidence and resilience.
Step 1: File for Unemployment Benefits
When facing a job loss, your first point of action will be collecting unemployment to help you through this transition. While most people qualify for these benefits, there is a specific process to determine if you are eligible. Factors such as the reason for job separation, length of employment, and previous earnings are all taken into account. Be aware of the distinction between being laid off and being fired, as this can impact eligibility.
Additionally, when receiving unemployment benefits, it’s important to take the time to understand the tax implications. Unlike regular employment income, taxes are typically not withheld from unemployment benefits. This means they are subject to federal income tax, as well as potentially being subject to state income tax.
Step 2: Do You Receive a Severance?
When many people are laid off, they are offered the benefit of a severance package by their employer. If this is the case for you, take the time to carefully review what is included in the package, such as the duration of benefits and any additional employee benefits provided, such as COBRA or group life insurance convertibility/portability. This is especially important for people with health issues who may otherwise be uninsurable.
Step 3: Revisit Your Budget
Though budgeting may be the last thing on your mind in this challenging period, now is the perfect time to revisit and assess your income, expenses, and financial obligations. Decide between what is a true need versus a want, and prioritize your bills accordingly. If you’re facing difficulty making payments, consider reaching out to your creditors to explore options like reduced or paused payment schedules. It may also be worth considering consolidating your debts to simplify your financial obligations.
Step 4: Look Into Health Insurance
To bridge the coverage gap between jobs, you’ll want to consider options such as COBRA, which allows you to continue your previous employer’s health insurance for a limited period of time.
Alternatively, if your spouse has a health insurance plan, explore the possibility of joining their coverage if your new employer cannot provide immediate coverage for you. Keep in mind that every company has different policies regarding spousal coverage. It’s also worth noting that deductibles from your previous health insurance plan do not transfer to the new plan. This means you will likely need to start fresh with meeting deductible requirements under the new insurance coverage.
Step 5: Consolidate Retirement Benefits
When you move out of one employer and into another, consolidating your retirement accounts can be a smart move to simplify and maintain control of your investment strategy. Uniting your 401(k) plans into one place prevents them from getting lost in the mix, allowing you to streamline your investment approach.
Some options include rolling over your funds into a new 401(k) plan, transferring them to an individual retirement account (IRA) at an investment firm or bank, or leaving them with your current employer. Opting for an IRA outside of an employer plan can open up a world of investment possibilities, providing a broader range of options compared to typical 401(k) programs.
Consolidating your accounts in one place allows for the benefit of keeping your financial landscape focused, providing a clearer path toward financial independence, compared to managing multiple accounts scattered across different locations. Before deciding whether to retain assets in an employer sponsored plan or roll over to an IRA an investor should consider various factors including, but not limited to: investment options, fees and expenses, services, withdrawal penalties, protection from creditors and legal judgments, required minimum distributions and possession of employer stock.
As the curtains close on one chapter of your professional journey and open to the uncertainty of change, the most important step of all is to not be afraid to ask for help.
At Cedar Brook Group, our goal is to lead you to comfort, confidence, and clarity around your future. We want to come alongside you through your entire financial journey and all the ups and downs that come with it, bringing you closer to your dream retirement. Our commitment is to be with you every step of the way. Reach out to us at 440-683-9213 or or firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a complimentary introductory call online!
Dayna Smith is partner and financial advisor at Cedar Brook Group, one of the largest independent wealth management firms in Northeast Ohio. Dayna is passionate about making a difference in her clients’ lives, providing organization, clarity, and customized solutions so her clients can pursue both their short-term and long-term goals. She is known for going the extra mile, giving her best to steward her clients’ wealth and support them on their financial journey. Dayna serves families and pre-retirees, using The Humanity Factor™ to identify her clients’ values, dreams, concerns, and needs, and create a strong foundation for them to build on.
Dayna has a bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in English from Bowling Green State University. She is a Registered Representative with Caderet Grant, and Investment Advisor Representative with Caderet Grant and Cedar Brook Group, SEC Registered Investment Advisors. She also holds a Life, Health, and Variable Annuities license in the state of Ohio. To learn more about Dayna, connect with her on LinkedIn.
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