What to Do If You're Laid Off

After finding out that you've lost your job, the question "What now?" may be the most daunting — but it's also the most important. "If you are suddenly hit by unemployment, the worst thing to do is to jump into panic mode," explains "The Fairy Jobmother" host Hayley Taylor. There are crucial steps you have to take to prepare yourself and your family financially during your pending unemployment.

Collect on What You Are Owed
Before you leave your office, make sure you have your final paycheck, or know how and when you will be receiving it. Remember, even if you have just been let go, you are still owed payment for the time you have worked through your last day, including unused vacation and anything else you are due according to your company's policy. If this isn't something you are informed of during your exit interview, contact your company's human resources department immediately so that you can calculate your final income.

Unemployment Benefits
After being let go, it is your right to collect unemployment insurance premiums from your former employer. This is something you will have to apply for, so do it immediately, since waiting periods and unemployment laws vary by state. Visit the official Department of Labor website for a direct link to your state and specific information on what to do.

Before filing your unemployment claim, here is a sample list of the documents and information you will need:

• Your Social Security number
• Your driver's license or Motor Vehicle ID card number (if you have either one)
• Your complete mailing address and zip code
• Telephone number where you can be contacted during the day
• Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. citizen and have a card)
• The names and addresses of all employers for whom you've worked within the last 18 months, including those employers in another state
• Employer Registration number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your most recent employer, if you have either (FEIN may be found on your W-2 forms)
• Your copies of forms SF8 and SF50, if you had federal employment within the last 18 months
• Your copy of your most recent separation form DD 214, if you are an ex-service member claiming benefits based on your military service
• If you choose to receive your weekly benefits via direct deposit, you must have a check handy in order to enter your bank routing and checking account numbers.

Tax Day Precautions
Keep your final paycheck handy for when tax time comes around. If by mid-February you haven't received a W-2 for the job that let you go, contact the IRS to request a substitute W-2. Visit the IRS website here for more information.

Tune in every Thursday on Lifetime at 9 pm et/pt for more tips from "The Fairy Jobmother" host Hayley Taylor.